For a full list of my travel adventures, click here.
This winter has quickly become one of seemingly unending travel, as early last week, I was back at another London-area airport for a trip to see extended family in Finland. Every time I told friends that I was going to Finland in the last week of break, they got a confused look, kind of why on earth are you going to Finland? To be fair, I probably would not have gone to Finland this year under other circumstances—after all, it is quite far away, cold and dark in the winter. But, family comes first, so I repacked my now-trusty backpack and put on my well-traveled boots, and hit the skies again.
My ideal plan for the week was one of complete relaxation, but I flew into Helsinki, which is not where my family lives. I arrived late on New Years Day, and spent the next day in the city, wandering around in the mild (35°+F) weather and having a bit of reindeer soup at a nicely authentic Finnish restaurant. I caught an afternoon train north, and rode into the night and the snow. It was cold, but two layers of leggings and four tops made me sufficiently covered to even play in the snow that night as I walked with my Aunt in Jyväskylä where they live.
The next few days were not totally relaxed, but did include a copious quantity of TV and movie watching and couch lounging and surfing the internet. They also included a trip to a local “spa”, which included warm pools, saunas and hot-tubs. The Finns really know how to enjoy the spa experience—even the small places are nicer than most hotel pools. I also went shopping, had a few nice meals, including an excellent gourmet meal of reindeer (Sorry, Santa, I can’t help it, they’re just so tasty!), and a trip to the local city pool to start getting back into the mode of swimming laps regularly.
My final day in Finland was mostly travel, as I had to take a train, a bus, kill a few hours at the Helsinki airport, a flight, a transfer in Copenhagen, another flight, and another train before getting back to get to London. It was nice though—to have home cooked meals and family to talk with and just the general coziness of staying in a home, rather than a flat or a place I’ve rented when I’m traveling (and even the luxury of sleeping until noon one day). I very much liked Helsinki, and if finances work, I might try and head back for a summer concert festival at some point. It wasn’t the kind of trip most people would take during their break from classes, favoring adventure and sights, but it was wonderful to see family and spend some time in weather that makes this London stuff seem warm.