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Helsinki, Moominworld and Brahehus

Now to the second installment of our holidays in Finland. I can’t say really why but even though Helsinki plays such big part of this trip I only have one single pictures from it! It might be because I lived there way too long or took last time enough pictures? No idea. So after one week at my parents cottage we drove to Helsinki to meet up with a lot of friends. With a lot of friends I mean really a lot to visit in just two days. Especially on our second day we had a tough schedule in which we met up with someone every hour from 10am till 6pm.

Only picture from Helsinki at Linnanmäki

But now to the beginning of the Helsinki trip. We were already late as we run into tons of traffic jams on the way which meant that we arrived 2 hours late to Linnanmäki the theme park in Helsinki to meet up with several Chinese friends. With Chinese friends I mean exactly the ones I wrote about meeting in Xi’an so you might guess what all went wrong in just two days. We had in Helsinki a lovely place to stay just 10min by car from the city center. However this meant that we were nearly one hour away from any other place we had to visit, talk about excellent planning again by my wife (just as in Xi’an!).

Edward the Booble at the Bath house

The second day we were supposed to meet with our Chinese friends at Ikea at 10am and then eat there later lunch. Yes, it did not work out that way. When we left at 9am and were half way to Ikea we got a call that they were just preparing once again beef noodles for breakfast. Yep, we had to reschedule everything, meet with other friends first and then went to Ikea to eat lunch on our own. Much later our friends arrived so we had coffee and cake with them. The rest of our Helsinki time was spent on meeting with other friends, checking on our old apartment and rushing on the third day to get early enough to our next location.

Nathan is not too sure what to think about this

The third day which was day number 10 in Finland we drove to Moominworld. From Helsinki it is a bit less than a three-hour drive as you will get stuck behind slow cars all the time. What to say about Moominworld? It is just a wonderful place for little children and also for adults. The amount of Japanese tourists was rather interesting but then again Moomins are still a big thing in Japan and they just opened/ are about to open a Moomin Theme Park over there. We had perfect (too hot) weather and explored the whole theme park for several hours. Everywhere you can find buildings from the different inhabitants of the Moomin Valley and character are walking around and interact with the visitors. We really enjoyed our time there even though Nathan was not too fond of meeting some of the character, especially Stinky and The Groke.

Brahehus

After Moominworld we drove to Turku Harbour to take our ferry back to Sweden. Well the drive through Sweden was nothing special once again but we had a longer stop at the Brahehus at Lake Vättern. Brahehus is an old ruin of a castle which sits about 270m above sea level. From there you have a stunning view over the countryside and especially over the Lake Vättern. The lake itself is so big that you can’t even see the other side. The entire length around the shore of that lake is around 300km, so it is a pretty big lake. At the castle we enjoyed the view and Nathan tried his best in boulder climbing but his mom and grandma were not so fond of it as it was rather high up there. After that trip we drove once again to my Uncle for a night and then left early morning to the second long drive through Danmark and back to Germany. With this our Finland holidays ended and normal working life got back immediately as we started work the same evening we arrived home.

Have you heard about Moomins before?

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Nathancuty at Thomas Land

And another article about our trip in Japan. We had only seven days in that wonderful country and way too much to see. As mentioned in the previous blog post Epic Tokyo we had a trip planned to Thomas Land. Ever since Nathan heard about Thomas Land in February he asked us all the time when we would go there. Little did he know how far that theme park is from our home and was getting more and more excited each day. So when the big day arrived he was so happy and jumping around non-stop. Once again my wife’s cousin joined us to help out and of course play with Nathan.

Nathan got some big butt

We left shortly after breakfast from our Airbnb house to Shinjuku station which was just 20min away by foot. From there we took a train to Otsuki Station where something very special would take us further to Fuji-Q Highland. Nathan had no idea that we would board a special Thomas Themed train to get to the park. In that train you could take pictures with different “Trains” and the kids could pretend to be driving the train itself. Our little boy was busy the entire journey to the park “steering” the train. Meanwhile MIL was complaining as usual about the aircondition and was the only person in the entire train wearing even a jacket.

Nathan the train operator

Once we arrived we got us something to eat at one of the restaurants at the Fuji-Q Highland park. The food was okay but not worth mentioning any further unlike all the other restaurants we visited during the Japan holidays. Thomas Land is just one little part of the entire Highland Park and it was so full there. Yes, it is very smart to go anywhere in Japan during the Golden Week and we will never do that again! Each ride had a waiting time of at least one hour and we decided plit up to go to different waiting lines so that Nathan could go at least on a few rides before the closing time of the park. He had tons of fun and also got some little Thomas souvenirs from the Gift Shop. In fact the gift shop was a bit too much for him as there were so many Thomas toys, shirts, cups and so forth.

Unicorn Gundam

After few hours in the park it was time for us to head back to Tokyo. for our last night there. We had some wonderful food again together with the cousin and her future husband and made plans for the next day. For the last day in Tokyo we headed to Odaiba for some last sightseeing. It was kind of interesting to be on a fully automated train to Odaiba. Here in Germany people distrust already automatic doors and in Japan you have trains running without any staff! Of course there had to be an October Fest in Odaiba making the whole area even more crazy with people.  Our time in Tokyo was really wonderful and worth every Cent (very many cents…). The time just went by too fast and we did not really feel like leaving Tokyo already but we had other big plans for the following day as Osaka was next on our list!

Have you visited special Theme Parks such as Thomas Land?

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Nathan’s Crazy Photoshoot

Indeed, our little Nathan had also a crazy photoshoot same as his parents had several years ago in China. Okay it was not only one photoshoot but actually two different ones but that was due to my crazy Chinese mother-in-law. Why? Oh well, she messed up as usual but more about that later on. You might remember that the photoshoot we had back in 2011 is not one of my fondest memories as it was pretty much a day of torture for me. Now just imagine how to make a 1 1/2 year old kid pose for the camera for several hours…yeah it won’t really work.

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Meet Nathan the monk

Enough of the introduction and lets talk a bit about the first session Nathan had to endure. Appearently the first company they went to with Nathan was not the perfect one. MIL won from some kind of prize competition a photoshoot for children worth 500RMB. This was pretty great at first until they went to that place as everything was kind of run down and broken plus some of the items the children are supposed to pose with were empty German beer kegs. Each and every single thing was broken there and dusty enough that you might think that the place was a movie setting from Tatooine. The next problem were the clothes for Nathan. My wife brought some clothes she had ordered beforehand from Taobao and it was a good decision to do so as barely any clothes they had at the photoshoot were fitting or any good-looking for our little one. Needless to say my wife was not pleased at all about where her mother had taken them but MIL had already excuses as nothing is ever her fault. In the end she blamed her friend whom she had asked about the location and this friend said it was okay. So no way on earth it was MIL’s fault by not checking out this company beforehand!

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Posing with a beer keg

Apparently it was also not Nathan’s best day as he was very grumpy but I guess it was also due to the jet lag as it was just few days after the arrival in China. I don’t know how but through some dark magic the photographer managed in those two hours of demon baby running around to get few decent shots. You know when you pose for some pictures you know where to stand as the photographer will give you basic commands what to do, how to smile etc. This does not work with a little kid. Everything and really everything is just pure luck. Little Nathan the Satan won’t just stand there holding a toy airplane and smile into the camera, no…he will take that airplane, throw it in some corner, turn around and crawl somewhere as crawling on a dusty ground is so much cooler than walking. In the end some pictures ended up pretty well and my in-laws even got a huge picture for their wall (the monk picture above).

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Pumpkin tastes good

The second photoshoot company was a total different matter. My wife spent several days researching all about this topic until she settled on one company. Everything also went well except two things which somehow happens every single time we have to be somewhere at a certain time. First of all MIL never wants to “book” a taxi as according to her it is no problem to get a taxi on the street. Yes, usually it is not a problem but when your appointment is around the time the taxi drivers have their shift change it is a huge problem. This always results that the heavily crowded busses are the main mean of transportation. The next problem is that it is impossible for my in-laws and my wife to find the right location. I don’t know if it is normal in China but it happens all the time with them. They roughly know where to go and it pretty much stops there already. Going around buildings and asking people where to go for at least one hour is nothing special. Now you can see why for this photoshoot Nathan was nearly two hours late resulting that a long waiting time was needed as the photo appointments of other children which were supposed to be after Nathan were suddenly before him (thank you MIL).

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Coolest Monk ever

This second place was the exact opposite of the first company. Everything was clean, only few things were broken and the staff was pretty good in cheering up the kids to make them smile. Furthermore they did not push with one child through the whole session but gave after 5-10 min  the kids (and the family) some rest and took pictures with another child. Though Nathan was still very great in avoiding in front of the camera what he was supposed to do the photographer adapted always quickly to the new situations and was able to take many great pictures in the end. Also the whole family left less exhausted and annoyed than after the first photoshoot as everything (except the arrival) went very smooth.

What are your experiences when it comes to take pictures of children?

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