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September 2nd 2009
Published: September 2nd 2009
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Mario's unit is part of this complex.
A summary: We had a good flight arriving on time in Helsinki. Unfortunately, our bags didn’t. One found almost immediately whilst the other took 2 days to get to Tampere, Max, his wife Paivi and daughter Taika have looked after us like royalty.

Saturday 29th August. Perth to Hong Kong - 10 hours and delayed! Only 1 hr 20 mins for changeover shortened to about 40 minutes! Bounding across HK Airport to catch the flight from Hong Kong to Helsinki, somehow our luggage went astray. We arrived at Helsinki airport looking for our luggage and sorry, maybe you’ll get it tomorrow. Max, Paivi and Taika were waiting for us and wondering what happened as all the passengers had already gone through. After explanations and salutations we headed off in their car only to be rung by the Luggage people to say that they had one item of luggage! It was Roman’s! Mine was nowhere to be seen.
Helsinki to Tampere is 140 kms or so and so several hours later we arrived at Max’s dad’s (Mario) place which he had commandeered for us, having relegated Mario to the summer cottage. What a gorgeous spot! Against a hill overlooking Tampere with the forest behind, and a lovely apartment at our disposal, we started off right with sparkling wine and beer and lots of lovely finnish food - smoked salmon and fresh salmon with cream and dill and all the trimmings - thoroughly spoiled.

Sunday 30th August. Cool sunny day (watery by Oz standards, but pretty good by finnish). MTP (Max, Taika and Paivi) dragged us for a walk up the hill to the local tower which overlooks the town. Up the tower to view the town and then down for coffee and the local speciality, munkki ( pronounced moonke ( short oo as in look and short e as in net) which is a large sugary doughnut! Exploring all over the forest hill with Taika running as only a 3 ½ yr old can run and play - in short bursts with remarkable energy only to run out as quickly, like a little puppy.
Drove down to Lena’s ( Max’s mum) beautiful summer cottage by Nasijarvi lake to sip wines and get stuck into a typical finnish barbecue - which is pretty similar to an aussie one, except we had little pies called korale which have a pastry of rye flour and a filling of rice porridge. Delicious! We explored and found berries - lingan berries, redcurrant, whitecurrant, blackcurrant, blueberries and gooseberries - yummy. Having eaten all this food, Max (the speed fiend) took us for a quick spin in his speed boat. He set a blistering pace across the lake and we were all cold and bounced out by the time it was over.

Luggage!! So now you’re wondering what I did for fresh clothes!! Washed undies, top and socks each night and prayed that my bag would turn up! Because the houses are centrally heated even in summer, the temp in the house was set to 21C, so if I squeezed out the clothes well, by morning they were pretty dry. Paivi lent me tshirts for just in case - which I did need!

Monday 31st August. My bag arrived! Bliss not to worry about all the medicines, personals and toiletries that I would have to replace, not to mention clothes, shoes etc!!

Tampere is situated between two lakes - the upper lake(Nasijarvi) is 18 metres higher than the lower lake, and the river between has a series of rapids. These are used to generate power for the town. Tampere is an old industrial town with lots of factory buildings now converted to apartments and shops. The buildings are block shaped built for the northern winter. A fair amount of industry still exists and there is a large paper mill still operating in the middle of town as well as three power stations on the rapids water way.
MPT live in the middle of town in an apartment which is also one level up from M’s accounting firm. Most families have city apartments and a summer cottage out by a lake. There are 5 million people in Finland and 200 000 in Tampere. With 1 million summer cottages, you can see summer cottages are standard. The more expensive houses are semi-detached, but most people live in small apartment blocks, I guess for heating. All housing is at least double glazed and insulated.

We went walking around town, touring the area between the 2 lakes. The weather was fine, windy, cool and overcast - a typical Perth winter day - although here it’s summer. We explored lots on foot, then drove around the hills and valleys where Max had grown up. In the evening we went to a revolving restaurant, on top of a tower which is 169 metres ( like the Sydney tower). We ate typical finnish food ranging from false morel soup (a type of mushroom, which unless treated correctly is highly poisonous. You have to boil for a few hours, rinse in lots of fresh water, repeat the process, then it’s ready to use), sashimi-style salmon , blackberry sorbet, reindeer fillet, cheeses made locally and finally a creamy mousse with a some sort of berry icecream that sounded like cold ocean something … tart and very yummy. Fabulously spoiled! There are so many varieties of berries, that even P&M don’t know them all.

In the typical finnish abode, is the customary sauna, which you do naked. The bathroom usually contains a sauna room, the shower and toilet. After sweating for a while, you hop out for a cold shower or cold swim (if you’re by the lake at the summer cottage, the saunas are always built next to the lake). Then you sit around drinking cold beers as the sun goes down, or watching TV if you’re in town. We had our first sauna, and it was delightful. Unless it’s family, males and females take turns at having the sauna. There are public saunas which generally have separate times for males and females but I think there are mixed saunas too.
In winter, apparently you jump into the snow instead of the water….. Paivi says that in winter they take short swims in holes in the ice… sounds chilly!!

Tuesday 1st September. Getting into the swing of things. Have been walking daily around the forest area (not R). Today we went hiking about 50km from Tampere around a lake (and there are many). Although the weather promised rain, we were lucky. We walked along paths surrounded by a profusion of berries - hard to resist stopping to taste - mostly lingan, blue and one that looked like blueberry but is found on a taller bush. Huge variety of fungi - the traditional red toadstool with the white spots, as well as oyster types (we picked chanterelles to eat at home). We came across a tree chopper which took out certain trees and if they were of the correct size, would cut them into the required lengths and trim the tree of branches before spitting it out. Very quick!!
We found a gorgeous picnic spot on an island where we had a traditional bbq - Vexy ( M’s father-in-law) slicing up softwood to fashion a knife and a brush as well as making small chips for burning. We cooked sausages on sticks (traditional picnic). A different style from Oz. On the way home we stopped to take photos of an old stone bridge, and found some redcurrant bushes - another tasting spot! I’m eating too much!




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In Tampere on the river
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Pukala hike

Vexy showing Max and Roman where we are going


3rd September 2009

Almost i week gone already
Hi So nice to hear of your week. Apart from the luggage mishap, it seems things are going really well. Nothing new on the home front. Weather here is 16/17, overcast and just plain cold. Went on a Probus trip to Serpentine Dam yesterday. About 25 went. Best part was the Macnuts macadamia factory on the way home. Lots of tasting and a very nice icecream. Had Errol for company. Am looking forward to the next blog. Stay safe and well. Fran
3rd September 2009

Fantastic!
Hi travelers, It all looks and sounds fantastic and it's good to hear that you arrived safe and sound. We are ok - even Mum who managed to fall over and leave a good-looking bruise over the bridge of her nose! Keep up the photo and commentary. Until next time, R
3rd September 2009

Wow!
Hi Lucy, Wow it sounds so wonderful and the pictures are beautiful, everything looks so neat and clean (is that because I'm so used to Asia now??) . Enjoy your holiday and thanks for the blog, it's really great to read about your adventures. Lots of love Bev
4th September 2009

Great to see your blog
Hi Lucy, I was hoping you were going to keep up the blog so we could follow you. Sounds like you are having a great time but the missing baggage must have been a worry. People always say you should have half of each person's stuff in each bag in case of this sort of thing but we've never managed to do it either. Food sounds delightful. I love berries. make sure you have some for me. Looking forward to your next entry. cheers Judy
11th September 2009

Having fun
Great to hear about your goings-on. Finland sounds fantastic. Hope Russia is as enjoyable - well maybe interesting is a better description. We're counting down until we leave at the end of this month - which is not too far off now! I have the usual mad scramble at work before then but it's worth it. Looking forward to the next instalment. Love to you both, M
11th September 2009

Having Fun
Well we are having fun in Russia, and we aren't on a tight schedule, so we can chill out as we want. Tonight we went to a barbecue restaurant on our own and we even got a couple playing guitar and singing russian songs - great stuff!! Love to all

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