This summer we managed it again to travel to Finland. The last time was back in 2016 and before that we hadn’t been in Finland since we moved to Germany back in 2014. This trip was a bit different from all the other holidays we had thus far as we did not go by plane but by car.
Our plan was to drive all the way from Germany through Danmark and then to Sweden. There we would stay for a night at my Uncle’s house and continue the next day to Stockholm to take the ferry to Turku (Finland). I must say it was not the easiest car ride in my life but we still managed rather well as little Nathalie the Thunder Goat only got grumpy on the last 1-2 hours of each day. The trip from our hometown to my Uncle in Sweden is around 500km and the trip from there to Stockholm another 550km. Besides those long car rides the trip from the harbour to my parents cottage is like nothing at just 270km. At first I was planning to drive from Germany to Stockholm all in one day but that would have been impossible with Nathalie. Of course MIL managed to sleep the entire trip and thus missing both the big bridges (Great Belt Bridge and Øresund Bridge).
The entire trip to Finland and back again clocked at over four days so we had only ten days in Finland of our two-week (unpaid) holidays. The first week we stayed at my parents cottage at Nummijärvi where I had once again more than enough work to do from mowing the lawn over chopping firewood to trying to figure out why the boat engine isn’t really working. Besides that we also visited an old friend of my mother in Vähäkyrö and basically just enjoyed the life at the cottage. Nothing special happened there except that I crashed my drone into a tree so I had to chop that one down as well just after finishing all the firewood tasks, just basic luck for me.
At the cottage both kids finally were able to spend their entire energy each day. Never before it took less than 30s to get Nathan to sleep. Even Nathalie was a manageable beast during that week and slept rather well. My dear Chinese mother-in-law was the basic herself and did strange things such as going out each day with a fly swatter and trying to kill mosquitos or suddenly disappearing into the forest to collect blueberries without proper shoes (there are vipers everywhere!!!). All in all I enjoyed the week at the cottage and the next blog post will be about Helsinki, Moominworld and the trip back to Germany.
What is the longest distance you travelled by car?
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First of all I am sorry for not posting any articles for the past three weeks but there were many things happening. During my “absence” we were two weeks in Finland and then the past week we were just too busy with work. At first I wanted to have only one blog post about our holidays in Finland but I quickly realized that I took first of all too many pictures and second that there is just such a clean-cut between our time at the cottage and those days spent in Helsinki. This first blog post about the holidays in Finland will be all about the days spent together with my parents at the cottage and next week will be about the four-day stay in Helsinki.
We had planned our holidays in Finland for some time as we wanted to meet up with some friends and because I also had to help with some things at the cottage. It was no trouble at all to find some good plane tickets but we somehow missed to check at first what time those flights would be. So we ended up arriving in Finland on a nice monday evening at 10pm! Sure it doesn’t sound that bad but the thing is that we had to get still to my parents cottage roughly 4 hours away by car. My dad picked us up with enough coffee in the thermos to keep me awake for the journey to the cottage. It wasn’t the most pleasant car ride I had as by the end of July the days were getting shorter again which meant it was nearly pitch black around midnight, half the trip we had heavy fog hindering us and worst of all we had to check non-stop for moose crossing the road. Yes moose as they are very common in Finland and they do love to come out of the forest at night to pester the roads leading to many dangerous situations which even end up deadly few times a year for both the animal and the person behind the steering wheel. Luckily we did not see any moose this time on the road but it still took a lot of energy to look around the whole car ride.
Nathancuty, mother-in-law and my wife fell asleep pretty much as soon as we left the airport and only my dad stayed awake to keep me company while driving. The amazing thing is that as soon as we arrived at the cottage around 2:30 am Nathan decided to wake up and check out the whole place. It took over one hour to catch him running around and he was rather upset that we took him upstairs to sleep as he wanted to still spend time with his Mummo and Opa (Mummo is Finnish for grandmother and Opa is German for Grandfather). The following days meant work for me, a lot of work as I helped out with mowing the lawn, chopping wood, trying to get the outboard motor working again (I failed), cutting away reed in the lake with a scythe and last but not least making myself extra work by starting to build up a wall made out of large rocks. This might give you an idea that the days at the cottage was less holiday for me and more like a working camp. Besides all the work I also joined my father on the early morning bicycle rides around the lake, yes I had a full-time job there!
MIL, Nathancuty and my wife had a bit less to do. In fact they had a lot of free time there when they did not have to watch out for Nathan. That little fellow was rather keen in running around the cottage all the time, especially to the lake. Not that we don’ trust this big boy with his judgement when it comes to his non-existent swimming skills but it is better to make sure that he is fine. In their free time MIL, my wife and my dad went over to the neighbour’s property to harvest the area for raspberries. I believe they collected around 10 litres within a few days and my mother was fairly busy in making every day several jars of raspberry jam. We might be probably soon sick of raspberry jam as my parents come back to Germany next month with their car loaded with the sweet death in jars…
One of the exciting days was when my cousin came over with her three children. You might remember her little daughter from this post when Nathan was fairly jealous of all her hairs. Let’s just say he is probably even more jealous now as she is sporting a lot of hairs while as Nathan might be better off with a monk hairstyle. During all the time at the cottage my dear Chinese mother-in-law had also some stuff to discover. For one thing that ducks actually survive out there in the nature without her feeding them, that seagulls are not ducks and that a rabbit is not a deer. Yes you read it right, she actually thought one evening that she saw a deer on our property and even described it “It was this big (waving her arms in huge motions) and it had very very long legs”. The thing is that there are not deers in that part of Finland but she was very sure that it was no rabbit because “I know how rabbits look like, especially because you have those two bunnies!”. When we all went to investigate and she pointed to the place where she saw the deer a small rabbit came running out of the bushes and she was all like “Look there is the deer”. Got to love her own believe sometimes.
During one of the last days we were invited for lunch by our cottage neighbours who own a farm about 30 driving minutes away. The farm is just huge and they had on a wall a document stating that the farm has been in their family since the 1670s! That is certainly a long line of farming business there but sadly it might soon end as it is just not profitable anymore these days. After a delicious lunch we went for a little walk around and also stoped by their Galloway cattle herd. Last time we had visited them back in 2014 when Nathan had is first encounter with them. The whole area was just breathtaking (not because of the smell from the farm!) and I do hope we can go there next year again. All in all I can say that it was something special for me to visit Finland again and spend time at the cottage. The house at the lake has been now in my family for 24 years and I spent every summer there in my youth so for me it is like a little safe haven, a place I will never forget.
Where have you been this summer?
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We have been now at the cottage for about a week. The time was spent with working on my poor old car, helping my parents with small repairs at the house and entertaining our little son.
Especially Nathan seems to be very excited about the cottage. Wherever we go he looks around and stares at new things such as flowers, our boat or even more simple objects such as grass. Nearly everything can make him smile and each time it makes the day a little bit brighter. Yes, he can be easily excited. But he also gets much more cranky about everything which might be due to the fresh air all the time and bright nights due to no real sunset at the moment.
In this aspect he is very similar to my parents-in-law. When they visited us last summer they were amazed by everything such as the blue sky, the lush green and according to them everything felt so much more fresh than in China. Well, sure it feels more fresh when you have suddenly only +28 degrees Celsius instead of +38 and no more smog everywhere…
But my nice parents-in-law also struggled a lot with these very long days here in summer. When they go to sleep it’s nearly as bright as daytime and when they open their eyes in the morning it is again (still) bright. I don’t even realize it anymore as I grew up with these summers but someone who is used to total darkness at around 8pm has hard time adapting to this new situation.
Last summer my in-laws said they would like to return again, but this might be impossible. We move soon to Germany and when my in-laws come to visit it will be there, in our new home, not in Finland anymore. But then again, somehow we will manage to take them for another trip into the nature, we don’t know yet how but we (my wife) will figure something out.
Now we still have over one week left here which I will spend by doing the very same as before, working. In Finland people say they go to their summer cabin to work, not relax. I have to agree with this saying as I have never done anything else but work here with my parents. However all hardship is paying off in the end, especially when you sit down after a long day and see the beautiful nature unfold right in front of you.