Friday, 27 November 2015

Back to My Roots: Ally and Jussi Return to Finland (Part 4 - Family, Friends and Estonia)

I'm now back in beautiful Tasmania with sunny 28 degree weather for my arrival. Dad is doing well on his own, with a few more weeks before his return. 

Rewind 2 weeks to my last week in Finland.

After farewelling Geoff we got comfortable in Sulkava, thanks to Heidi, Jukka & Ilja's hospitality. I got some practise driving on the wrong side of the road which I felt went quite well, but every now and again dad would yell out "Ally, Ally, not so fast!!!", similar to Mummi's screams of "Esko, Esko, ei ei ei!!!" during their drives across Finland's dirt roads.

Setting off on our own, dad and I re-visited Kyrsyä and spent a freezing sunny morning in the forest beside "Squirrel Camp", a cosy camping break along a popular canoe route. We had coffee with old friends Anya and Matti who shared stories of dad and his siblings running amuck as the neighbouring children, and visited Heiki at the old pig farm. At Heidi's we poured over old maps inherited from our grandparents and their families, and Ilja and I worked on his English homework - which he was way better at than me!

A highlight of the trip was visiting Tuula and Antti at their beautiful log-cabin home nearby. The house sits right on the edge of a lake surrounded by forest and wildlife. After eating a delicious home-shot/collected and -cooked meal of reindeer (Antti's famous recipe) and berry kiisseli, Antti took us in his boat across the lake to visit a house being built by his son and brother-in-law. The house was stunning, made of roundish logs produced by joining six wooden planks. They kindly taught me a lot about the process to help fuel my desire to build a log-cabin sauna on my own property one day.

Dad and I returned in Helsinki for a few days and visited the zoo. The zoo covers an island nearby Helsinki making for lovely views and nature surrounding the animals. We saw native animals like bears and reindeer, but also international animals including some Australian wallabies... weird. The zoo is involved in many conservation and protection programs and releases many animals into the wild to help with species population programs. 

We also visited with dad's aunt Päivi, and they told me about mum and dad's stay with them 25 years ago. We laughed at pictures of Seppo and Päivi's visits to Australia (also about 25 years ago) and marvelled at the change in both places and people. 

Dayum gurl!
Love the decor
Pasanen house in 1990!

The third country (don't forget our accidental trip to Sweden) we visited was Estonia! Dad, Uncle Timo and I spent the night on cruise ship to Tallinn. The large ship had multiple bars and resturants, including a massive buffet with fish bars, meat bars, salad bars, thai bars, taco bars, oh man.. We and the 100s of other guests drank to live music and dancing into the early hours of the morning.

We spent a day walking through the Old Town of Tallinn. The cobbled streets were beautiful with so many colours and shapes. Unique gift stores sold handmade felt products and wooden kitchen items and were nestled up steep hills beside souvenir  shops packed with baltic amber and babushka dolls. We visited multiple churches, the most impressive being Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (below), and walked some of the fortress walls. The defensive tower is amusingly called Kiek in de Kök, and armed by many cannons including the Knob of the Lion. I suggest you don't try to take Tallinn.

'Knob of the Lion'

bottle shop located right next to the ship port so that you can conveniently catch the nightclub ship during the night, disembark at 10am, visit the SuperAlko and be back on the ship to return to Helsinki at 12pm. The Finns know how to party. 

To wrap the trip up we had ourselves a bit of a party to crack open our Estonian goods - preparing ourselves for the sleep-ins and pizza we knew we had to have the next day ;) Dad escorted me to the airport and we spent a lovely day in Heslinki first, revisiting the market, eating Finnish treats and having a good laugh. After such a special trip with dad it was great to spend the last day together and say a 'seeya later'. And homeward bound I was.

Thanks for a wonderful time together, dad <3