Tomorrow, July 31 I will leave on holiday for Finland. It will be my tenth time in that most beautiful country. Twenty years ago on August 3, 1999 I left Toronto for Helsinki (back when you could still fly nonstop YYZ-HEL) and I often stop to think about this anniversary and what it means to me.
After my first visit, I had already made up my mind (on the streets of Aleksi, I can still remember the moment) when I told myself that I would come back the next summer for the specific purpose of learning the Finnish language. My leave of absence from work was granted, and I lived in Helsinki for three months during the summer of 2000, quite possibly the best summer ever to be in Helsinki, as in that year Helsinki had been chosen as one of the European Cities of Culture. I saw so many concerts that summer, and took part in other cultural activities. I totally immersed myself in all things Finnish. My mother even visited me for two weeks, and we rented a mökki up in Kemijärvi during the Juhannus break. Talk about really giving my mother the true Finnish experience!
And so my partner Mark and I embark on another trip to my beloved Finland–my tenth trip, his second–and we will visit friends in Helsinki first, and do three side trips which are all firsts for Mark: see Turku, Finland’s oldest city, and visit two other countries: Tallinn, Estonia and Stockholm, Sweden.
I will be blogging about my trip, and now that I have Mark with me you will be able to see more vacation shots with me in them. We must be the only couple on the planet where neither of us owns a cellphone so selfies are not an option on solo trips. If you are interested in seeing pictures from Finland, Estonia and Sweden, and reading about my book finds and especially reading about my trip to Oodi, which is my most anticipated library visit ever, tune in to this blog. It’s an open blog so anyone can comment or ask questions, or you can write me privately.
Finland has given me my fourth language, friends whom I treasure, a culture of music that I listen to every day. some foods and drink that I crave each time I go over there (and which I cannot bring back home with me, like lakritsijäätelöä), literature and film that I pay way more attention to than my own country’s, a clean country and fresh air full of lakes and trees, midnight sun and kaamos, and a population who, whenever and wherever I encounter them, has been so welcoming and friendly to me. Finns sometimes are curious why I love to visit their country so much. It’s because of you, too, and the pride you exhibit in your own country.
Kanadalainen kaveri Suomesta