HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!! Yay :)
Chris and I prepared and saved for this trip for at least a year and in the few months before we left, the planning went into high gear ... so much so that I didn't have my normal birthday countdown. Add to this equation the 9 hr. time difference between the States & Finland. With all things considered, I woke up on the 6th – my birthday – thinking it was the 5th. As did Chris!! LOL We had been going non-stop since we arrived on the 2nd – we had already seen Hameenlinna, Tampere, Helsinki, and spent two nights at the summer cottage – we did not have any concept of what day it was. We had a good laugh once we figured out that it was indeed my birthday and Chris made up for not remembering (not knowing) with a really good back rub – my #1 favorite thing!!
We did not have any plans for the 6th so we woke up, ate breakfast and lounged around for the morning. Mette called from work and asked us to have lunch with her since we weren't off sight-seeing that day. We picked her up from work (since we had her car) and we all headed to the local gas station / Hesburger (Finland's equivalent to McD's)/ Mini Market that was right across the street from her office. After lunch we visited some shops in Karkkila before heading back home. Once back at Mette's place Chris passed out (asleep) because he wasn't feeling well, he got a cold on the way over, and I packed up our bags and got ready to head to Paimio for the second half of our stay in Finland.
When we arrived in Paimio the house was empty – everyone was still at work. Mette gave us a tour of the house and most things were the same. Appliances were upgraded since I had been there 12 yrs ago and some rooms switched around after the kids moved out but overall it still felt like my Finnish home :)
Mette, Chris and I were out in the backyard when the parents (Kassu & Sari) arrived so we hid on the side of the house until they were inside and then we rang the doorbell for a proper greeting. We were welcomed with open arms and big hugs! Later that evening Noora and her boyfriend, Lassi, came over to say hello. We had to re-introduce ourselves since Noora was so young the last time I was here. It was really neat (and very different than last time) because we are both adults now and the conversation was no longer about Barbies and Pochahontas LOL. She is coming into her own and is a responsible and talented 19 yr old. She is an art student and hopes to design clothes professionally once she graduates. She has already made a number of dresses that were proudly on display in her old room and the sewing room at Kassu & Sari's house.
Before dinner was ready the entire family was called into the kitchen and Chris and I were told to stay put! A minute later they all came into the living room singing “Hyvaa Syntymapaivaa”, which is “Happy Birthday”. They gave me two beautiful pieces of Kalevala jewelry – a silver necklace chain with a heart pendant and a bronze/gold round link bracelet. I didn't even think they knew it was my birthday so it was a pleasant surprise for me!Once we had dinner everyone turned in for the night and Chris and I decided that the next day we'd walk into Paimio's city center (which could be compared to Dixon's city center – LOL). I was excited to show him the high school I went to and the little shops on the main street.
September 7th, 2007
This morning we were woken up by my cell phone ringing ... Lassi (Noora's boyfriend) was going to go to work at the shipyard in Turku and wanted us to come along – he is a foreman at a steel mill. This was quite a privilege because visitors are not usually permitted into the shipyard – especially now since they are in the process of building the world's largest cruise liner for Royal Caribbean, The Independence of the Seas. Chris and I jumped out of bed, got dressed and were just stuffing breakfast down when Lassi rang the bell and ... off we went!
The shipyard was HUGE and there were workers everywhere. We were required to wear hard hats and safety goggles so I was thanking God that cameras/pictures were not allowed! Hehehehe The Independence was gigantic and it was really neat to walk around while the ship was still in the building stages. The Hull of the ship was assembled but the back end had yet to be completed. Lassi took us up and down stairs, showed us where the theater would be, where the swimming areas would be and where the biggest of the ship's restaurants would be. It was massive, and it wasn't even a completed ship yet! While we were there – the sole reason that Lassi had to go to work that day – Lassi's crew tested the life boat hoists with weights that were 9900 kilos each (I believe that is equivalent to 10 tons). The test was to “lose the brakes” and try to stop the weights from falling. It was incredible to witness this being done and to be on the world's largest cruise liner as it was being built :) We felt very fortunate. (The only bummer was that we weren't allowed to take pictures of the site - understandably so.)
After Lassi was done at work he drove us all around Paimio – we walked through the school I used to go to and the new library, it was really neat to see that again and it was just like I remembered it. Once we walked through the school Lassi took us to the ski jump for Paimio. Ski jumping is a huge sport in Finland – whether there is snow or not! We got to see the “summer” version of the jump which is hard, slippery plastic that allows the skis to slide, just like snow would. All three of us climbed the stairs up to the top of the tower for the highest jump there ... phew! What a tiring climb but the amazing views were well worth it. Once we were done being chauffeured around town Chris and I hung out at the house until everyone got home from work. Kassu & Sari packed up a picnic dinner and we headed out for a hike at a nature path in Paimio that led us through a forest which demonstrated many types of trees and landscapes in the Finnish wilderness – swamps, leafy trees, needle trees, and others. When we reached the highest point of the path we unpacked the sausages, breads, cheese, etc. for dinner and built a fire to grill the sausages. The community of Paimio maintains the nature path and provides wood for bonfires – so it is not hard to build the fire or gather wood. While eating dinner we could see the town of Paimio below and all of the surrounding nature areas. Once we packed up dinner we completed the nature walk and headed home. As soon as we got home Chris was in bed – still nursing his cold and the walk took every ounce of energy he had! The rest of us enjoyed sauna before hitting the hay and planned on visiting Turku the next day.