Revisiting Family and Friends in Finland

We stopped by to see friends and family in Finland in May-June. This was our third and also the longest visit (1,5 months) since our journey began in 2004. We had more time to observe and reflect changes that had taken place in the country.

The most glaring change in the last ten years was that Helsinki had become more international. We saw a bigger range of ethnicities than ever before which felt nice in the otherwise remote and isolated European capital. Prices had naturally risen a lot, as always, although there were some pleasant surprises as well. Lidl, and the increased competition between grocery chains, had brought some food prices down, and if you book train tickets months in advance, you can get decent promotions. The trains are super: brand new with WiFi. There are also some new affordable bus lines which we tried when crisscrossing the country from east to west and from south to (halfway) north.

The absolute highlight of our visit was, naturally, meeting our friends and family, some of whom we hadn’t seen for eight years or more. Thank you all, we will miss you! We also did some promotion for our newest nonfiction book Vapaana elämisen taito (The Art of Living Free, in Finnish only) for radio, TV and magazines. Some of the stories have already come out and the rest will be published by mid-September.

Our visit was far from boring, including the weather. We arrived before the first of May expecting +18 degrees Celcius (64F) but it was -2C (28F)and snowing! When walking from the airport to the railway station in Lappeenranta, we caught a cold. Not a big surprise really, coming from +37C (99F) in Costa Rica. Fortunately there were a few nice days with +27C (81F), but in Finland you never know about the weather. One day you’re fine with a T-shirt, but the next day you might have to wear a winter jacket and gloves. We had also forgotten that we are allergic to Northern vegetation so we had to rush to a pharmacy. The pharmacist was delighted when telling us that the pollen count was the worst for decades and it was very profitable time for them. The demand of antihistamines had skyrocketed.

Hope the rest of the “summer” will be nicer and warmer (or at least less snowy) dear Finnish friends. Thank you so much and see you!

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