View Full Version : smorgasbords, saunas, summer houses and strawberries

23-01-04, 23:18
My one and only visit, so far, to Finland was in the 1970`s, when I was single, in my early 20`s (ish) and had not even thought about genealogy, roots and all that. All I really knew about Finland was that Nykarleby was the birthplace of my grandfather on my mother`s side. I was enjoying a working holiday in the United Kingdom (which at that time was what Australian youngsters were "into", and still are, but at a much faster pace these days) when a sudden urge took hold of me to visit Finland. Not being overly financial, in fact living virtually on a "shoe string", I made a frantic phonecall to my mother in Australia. Nykarleby being her father`s birthplace, she readily lent me the money for the trip, even though, on reflection she must have had little to spare at that time.

Much has happened since 1971, many more countries visited, but still happy memories remain of my two weeks in Finland. Helsinki was the starting point, where I was well looked after by some friends of an Aunt (or were they relations? On reflection, I think the latter, the name seems to tie in to my family tree vaguely). My accommodation in Helsinki was fairly basic, and normally used for University students, but being summer the place had been turned into a budget hotel. There, the most wonderful smorgasbord breakfasts set me up for the rest of the day - in fact I do not remember eating anything else all day! My aunt`s friends (relations) looked after me incredibly well during my week in Helsinki, but the most vivid memory is of a visit to their summer house where I was introduced to sailing and forgot to duck when the boom came hurtling towards me - hence this being my first and last attempt at sailing. The taste of the most delicious crayfish that have ever swum Scandinavian seas still lingers on my taste buds - I must have eaten dozens on my visit to that island summer house. Incidentally. this was at an outdoors party in my honour when nobody had remembered to tell the mosquitos they were not invited and consequently they tried to eat us alive!

Although shyness prevented me from enjoying the pleasure of the sauna, I have since become accustomed to and thoroughly enjoy, that experience at my local sports centre.

Now, if you want to know more about those strawberries, and my other Swedish-Finn experiences, in Vaasa and Nykarleby, I am sorry, but you will just have to tune into the next episode or post a thread....

Until next time



24-01-04, 02:35
Hi Gwenda,
I enjoyed reading your experience in Finland. I'm anxious to hear more.

It was mentioned in another thread about McDonalds in Helsinki. Unfortunately, and with some embarrassment, I must admit one of my memories of Finland was while sitting in the Helsinki McDonalds. :o I'm a typical looking Finn and while travelling around the world, always felt I stuck out. Sitting in McDonalds in Helsinki and looking around at the fellow patrons, they all looked like they could be my brothers and sisters! :) For once, my black-headed wife stuck out and not me. It was a very comfortable feeling for me.

Of course I have many other pleasant memories of Finland but this one jumped to mind.

Maybe we should start a thread about "Memories of Finland"? Though I wonder if the natives would be bored reading of our adventures. ?? ;)

Tracy Boeldt
24-01-04, 03:00
I love hearing these stories since I have never been to Finland or Sweden--so keep them coming!

24-01-04, 17:42
Second Instalment of smorgasbords, saunas, summer houses and strawberries

After two or three more days` sightseeing and shopping in Helsinki and with two Lapland-dressed dolls and a packet of Finnish biscuits safely stowed in my luggage (those biscuits were to cause me some problems later), I bade a fond farewell to my Finnish friends-relatives and boarded a bus for Vasa. I was rather apprehensive about this journey, as I appeared to be the only English speaking passenger. To make matters worse, I had to change buses somewhere along the way and had absolutely no idea how I was going to manage that. However, when the time came, luck was on my side. A fellow passenger leapt from his seat, exchanged a few words with the driver, then proceeded to escort me to the point from which my next bus was leaving. I tried to keep a few paces behind him, as I wasn`t sure whether or not I was being kidnapped! After thanking him in Finnish (which perhaps should have been Swedish), "thank you" and "please" being the only words I knew, he waited alongside my bus until it pulled away. This must have been very annoying to his fellow passengers, who were going nowhere until he had completed his good deed for the day.

I enjoyed my few days in Vasa immensely, especially the museums, church and its open-air-beside-the-sea, fish market, which fascinated me for an hour or more. Another hour was spent in a Vaasan cafe, wading through the most enormous open sandwich imaginable, whilst watching the world go by outside. There was something slightly odd about my accommodation in Vasa. About 5 or 6 times every night the telephone in my room would ring. When I answered, I would hear a woman`s voice saying a few words in Finnish or Swedish. My answering in English only served to make her very irritable before she hung up, only to call again a few minutes later. In the end I just let it ring!

It was time to move on to Nykarleby, my grandfather`s birthplace.
The third and final instalment will follow in a day or two and that`s where the strawberries come into it.....

June Pelo
24-01-04, 19:16
I've had many interesting experiences and met lots of people during my trips to Finland, but there was one harrowing experience I'll never forget. We had been staying with relatives in Karleby and my cousin and a friend planned to take us to Kronoby airport on departure day. Our ticket said departure time was 8 a.m. We were packed and ready to leave when they thought we should leave a little earlier. They said something didn't seem right because 8 a.m. was an odd hour to be leaving in the summer. As we drove into Kronoby airport, the plane was there on the runway, the doors were closed and the engines were running. We ran into the terminal and asked if it was the plane to Helsinki: it was! I shouted that we had to be on that plane and handed our tickets to the agent; he yelled for them to hold the plane. He looked at the tickets and said they were the wrong tickets. I threw my luggage onto the floor, opened it and tossed the clothes all over, digging around for the ticket package. By that time everyone in the airport was gathered around watching me. I found the tickets, handed them to the agent who looked at them and said that the travel agent had issued the tickets using the winter departure time instead of the summer time. He tagged our luggage, someone grabbed it and we ran out to the plane, getting nasty looks from the passengers. If we had been a few minutes later getting to the airport, we would have missed the plane. But the excitement wasn't over yet because when we got off the plane in Helsinki, my name was being paged in the terminal. My cousin had left a message for me to call her back at Kronoby airport. She said the airline agent was so upset and unnerved that he didn't remember where he had tagged our luggage - it was supposed to go to Florida, but he had no idea where he sent it. He wanted us to go to the FinnAir baggage room and check the tags on our luggage. Fortunately the tags were correct and we were on our way. We arrived at Kennedy airport as a tremendous thunderstorm approached. All flights were cancelled for four hours - power was out and just about everyone, including us, missed connecting flights. People were sleeping on the floor of the terminal. We had been traveling many hours and were very tired. Finally at 10 p.m. we boarded our plane to Florida with an arrival time of 1 a.m. The Florida airport closed at ll p.m. so arrangements were made to keep it open for our plane. We had hired a limo to meet us at the airport to drive us to our home, but they somehow became confused because of the delayed flight and so they weren't there. There were only 4 people on that flight to Florida and eventually we were left there alone while the airport was being shut down and the lights turned off. A man who runs a cab company saw us there and asked if there was a problem. We explained that our limo didn't show up and we were stranded. We lived in a town 60 miles from the airport, so he offered to take us home for the same price we would have paid for the limo. We agreed to go with him and arrived home at 3 a.m. - having been up and on the go since 6:30 a.m. the previous day in Finland. An experience I never want to repeat.


24-01-04, 21:31
Reply to June

What a travel experience you had. Enough to put you off flying for life, but it obviously didn`t. Thanks for sharing it.

Jaska Sarell
25-01-04, 00:48
Originally posted by June Pelo
We agreed to go with him and arrived home at 3 a.m. - having been up and on the go since 6:30 a.m. the previous day in Finland. An experience I never want to repeat.


And you should not forget to add the 7 hour time difference between Finland and Florida! That'll make 27.5 hours total travel time.

:) Jaska

June Pelo
25-01-04, 01:08
You're right, Jaska. I remember telling people in the airport in New York that we had been up for about 27 hours and felt like zombies. They were shocked and asked us where we started out and I said we were in Finland about 150 miles south of the Arctic Circle.


26-01-04, 15:18
Third and Final instalment as promised

Finally, I was in Nykarleby, although I cannot for the life of me remember how I got there. I think I struggled ever onwards on a local bus, but possibly someone came to Vasa to collect me. I know I didn`t walk! I do remember arriving a day earlier than expected and consequently throwing my relations into a state of chaos. Unbeknown to me, they had arranged for their English speaking daughter to come home from school in Sweden to act as interpreter and she was not due to arrive until the following day. The only other English speaker was the local schoolteacher He was promptly enlisted as substitute interpreter for the day.

I do not think there was one inch of Nykarleby which was not covered that day, but the highlight for me was being taken to the house where my grandfather had lived. Nothing remained except the foundations and a well, still producing water. I drank from that. Later, in the home of my relations, I recall many family photos being passed around and dining on sandwiches, cake and those strawberries! They were enormous, wonderfully sweet and I think the best strawberries I have ever tasted. I had just never associated Finland with strawberries before then.

Eventually I was back in Helsinki. I cannot remember anything about that journey either, so I assume it was uneventful. During the flight back to London I had a short stopover in Oslo to change planes. However, my luggage did not, and it was another week or more before that caught up with me.

A couple of months later I returned to Australia and, coming through Customs, was asked if I had anything to declare. In all innocence, I answered "no". The Customs Officer, for reasons known only to himself began to search my luggage and discovered the Finnish biscuits which I had completely forgotten about lurking at the bottom of my suitcase. After that there was no stopping him. He had obviously discovered a dangerous "biscuit smuggling ring". Before I knew what was happening the entire contents of my luggage were strewn unceremoniously and embarrassingly from one end of the counter to the other - dirty washing and all. He let me keep the biscuits though.

The end:D

June Pelo
26-01-04, 17:54

Yes, I was impressed with the strawberries - everyone served them in bowls with cream or in cake. They make a layer cake with strawberries and whipped cream as filling and on top - I remember eating strawberry cake 3-4 times a day for 3 weeks - at every home I visited. And the same thing was true in Sweden. My cousin there stopped at a farm and bought a big basket of berries for us to eat.

I assume you visited that tower in Nykarleby - from the top you have a view of all the area and many people were up there the day I was there. Although I didn't speak, I must have aroused their curiosity because no sooner had I signed the guest book when nearly everyone went to see what I had written.

I, too, had an interesting experience traveling by bus between Karleby and Nivala. My cousins took me to the bus and told the driver that I didn't speak Finnish, but that I was to get off at Nivala. The driver said he would make sure I got off at the right place. It was rather amusing because every time the bus stopped to let people off or let people on, the driver would turn to me and hold his hand up and say something in Finnish. When we neared Nivala I saw the name on a sign, so I gathered my stuff and the driver motioned for me to get off. My relatives were there waiting for me, and he waved out the window as we walked away. I had planned to take the bus back to Karleby, but my relatives borrowed a Chevrolet van and drove me back. They were so proud to be driving an American car and told me that many young men in Finland dreamed of buying a pre-owned American car.



26-01-04, 22:21
Originally posted by June Pelo
...I remember telling people in the airport in New York that we had been up for about 27 hours and felt like zombies...

My worst zombie trip - a double red-eye flight - was when I took a cheap (and long!) flight from Las Vegas via a number of towns in US, to London and after a too long wait in London further to Helsingfors. Because I arrived in Helsingfors on Midsummer's Eve we directly jumped into our car as we had planned and drove 500 km to Kronoby to spend the Midsummer there.

During the flight I didn't dare to fall asleep because I had learned from previous trips that skipping a night was the best way of my not getting jet lag. But - when we arrived in Kronoby some 48 hours after my departure from Las Vegas I fell asleep (it was evening!). A deep sleep that lasted more than the night. I didn't suffer from jetlag but I guess I looked m.o.l. like a zombie the whole holiday.

June Pelo
26-01-04, 22:43
Hasse mentioned taking cheap flights and that reminds me of a relative who signed up with Icelandic Air for a trip to Sweden and Finland because their fares were cheaper. From what she said, it was a horror trip all the way. Icelandic planes were late and connecting flights were missed and she almost didn't get the connecting flight back to the US because Icelandic was 5 hours late. Someone said Icelandic is a no-frills airline. I usually fly FinnAir because the planes are roomy and I have a place for my long legs. I've flown SAS a few times, but the planes were smaller and we were packed like sardines and there was no place for my legs.:mad:


27-01-04, 18:04
Originally posted by June Pelo
... cheap flights ...

An expensive flight is no guarantee either. Some twenty years ago I flew from New York to London in a Concord (no I didn't pay the fare myself). The cruising speed was Mach 2.5, when all of a sudden the computer controlling the engines broke down (so I was told afterwords). The result of the computer collapse was that the plane couldn't fly at super sonic speed any more. It slowed down to about 500 miles/h in one second (so it felt).

There was a crashing sound and you got the feeling that the plane flew through a brick wall.

We had flown a little over an hour before this happened. The flight from N.Y. to London took normally about two hours and a half.

The plane had to turn back because there was barely enough fuel to fly us back to New York. The return trip took well over two hours at sub sonic speed. After that we waited a couple of hours in the Concord lounge at JFK airport for a new plane that flew us to London where we arrived hours later than planned and all the connecting flights home to Finland had departed for the day. But we got a hotel room at Heathrow and a complimentary Brittish chicken dinner, payed for by Brittish Airwys.

It was not so nice then, but I got a story to tell.


05-02-04, 19:32
I want to subscribe to sune's point of view about the flights.

I had an unusual experience in Spain (some four years ago).
I had to take an Iberia flight from Seville to Paris and then to Moscow.

The Iberia employees went on strike that day.
I had to take a taxi (!!!) to get to Madrid and catch another plane
as I could not afford missing an important meeting.

I do not even mention that my luggage was lost by Iberia on my flight from France to Spain, and many other details.