The Organ Recital

An Organ Music Festival was going on this summer in Helsinki. The short recitals took place in different churches of the city; on weekdays only because on weekends, more important things are happening. Unfortunately, due to the combination of my work meetings schedule and Boris’s schedule, we were only able to attend one concert on Tuesday.

Photography inside the church was not allowed. Boris told me, that at the previous concerts he attended there were signs on the seats suggesting people to skip rows and to sit sparsely. At that concert, there were no signs, but people were just choosing their seats away from each other, so that the church was filled in a vey nice distant way.

I hope that next summer, they will have the same festival again, and I will be able to attend the concert at Suomenlinna!

Flying Back

There are way fewer international flights than normal these days, and the ones who are operating are pretty crowded. At least, the European ones. 

My flight to Frankfurt was at 6-30 AM. Usually, I am trying to avoid that flight, because it is way too early, but this time it was the only option. In normal times, Boris would insist that there is no reason to arrive at the airport before 5-30, even if I want to shop duty-free, and even if I need to drop off the luggage. Oh, and about the luggage. I had a “light” airfare, which means – carry-on only, and as I’ve mentioned, I came to Helsinki with an almost empty suitcase. I thought that even if I buy some clothes, it will still fit. But then, I ended up buying more for my girls. It was a gradual process. First, I was not even sure whether I will do any shopping, then I did some, and then I thought that god-only-knows when I would be able to come again, and then I thought that I could buy en extra luggage :).

Boris favored that idea, and we ended up buying a very nice duffle bag, which could be converted to the backpack. I used it to pack the clothes, and also some yogurts. I started to smuggle dairy products from Finland in my luggage some time ago, which worked great.

I tried to check-in online, and as expected, got the message that the boarding pass could be issued only at the airport. We agreed that we will plan to be there at about 5-10. That meant getting up at 3-45 and taking a cab, but that would be unavoidable in any case. 

When we entered the terminal, we saw aย hugeย line. People were trying to maintain the distance, so the line became very long and spiraling.ย 

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The Post My Friends Were Waiting For – Food!

I always blog a lot about food in Helsinki, because I like it so much, and because it is so different from other places. And since I do not want to end up having each and single of my Finnish blog post about food, I decided to have a separate food post. My old friends know ๐Ÿ™‚

In summer, the best part is the abundance of local berries. Local strawberries are tiny and taste a lot like wild strawberries. I do not have pictures this time, but Boris added them to every fruit salad we consumed.

Unfortunately, it was too early for black and red currants, but wild blueberries were available in the stores and the cloudberries – you can’t find them in the US.

Then comes the salmon soup – the best staple of Finnish cuisine, FOr the past two years we favored the one from the shore cafe in Suomenlinna, but Boris told me that they stopped serving it. We tried in two other places, and the Fazer cafe didn’t fail us.

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Roses

It was only when we passed the Helsinki Botanic Garden on one of our bike rides that I realized that I didn’t see roses that summer. It is not like I was not allowed, the Chicago Botanic Garden and many of the city’s smaller rose gardens are open to the public. It just didn’t happen. And when I saw the blooming roses, I wanted to come back and on feet and enjoy them.

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Biking in Helsinki

We biked a lot :). Biking is one of my favorite things in Helsinki, but now it was even better. Since I got my very own bike here, I didn’t have many opportunities to ride it. This time, I rode it every day. And not only because the weather was cooperating, but also because Boris made it a habit for himself, which I was also happy about. I used to nudge him into doing some physical activity daily, and now for the first time, I do not remember since when, although the gym is still closed, I exceeded my move goal every day.

The biking routes were exciting. The first time, I didn’t even try to take pictures. THen I asked Boris if we can do multiple stops next time, but I could not tell in advance where I want to stop, so I only took a third of all the pictures I wanted :). I tried a couple more times, but I still didn’t capture a lot, like four swans, very close to the bike path, or mounted police :).

But whatever I got, here it comes.

First day, first ride
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Eyes And Travel

 do not think I wrote in detail about my last eyes-related updates. After my visit to the LensCrafters, things only got better. Fist, I got my multifocal eyeglasses. They work almost perfectly, which was especially important during my air travel. It was the first time I traveled without any worries about the contact lenses and them being in my eyes for way too long. The only thing I find slightly inconvenient with them is that the reading part of glasses interferes with going down the stairs and looking in the direction of the floor in general. 

Also, I tried the multifocal contacts, and that was a life-changing experience. It’s very close to what I was hoping to achieve after the cataract surgery. I still need the reading glasses, but only when I type or look at a really small print, and then it is +1, not +2.75. The doctor reduced the strength of both my glasses and lenses, which helped a lot. 

What it has to do with my travel? First, as I said, I was able to travel in glasses. Second, it is unbelievable how many more things I can see now! 

I am still learning to use my vision, still learning to look both further and closer. I was biking a lot all these days, and I was way more aware of my surroundings than before. 

Also, although I still have my double-vision, it is now localized to a very specific distance. It’s precisely the distance where I need to see the cars in front of me, so I still need my driving glasses. But first, I think that now the prisms can be reduced, a second – now I feel that this can be corrected. 

My all eyes ordeal started when I went to the doctor to correct my double vision. After all these surgeries, I thought that I do not want to do anything for a while. But now I think that it may be a good time to try to fix it. 

How I Feel Here

Several people asked me whether Finland requires a two-week quarantine upon entering. My friend checked in for me when she was contacting the Finnish Border Control, and they told her something to the effect “recommended, but we do not check.” When I exited into the terminal, there were airport personnel meeting returning passengers. They were giving everybody the following flyer:

Granted, I am doing way more than that, starting from the fact that I didn’t go anywhere except my mom for five days before departure. I told Boris that he should buy all the food before I arrive (normally it’s one of our favorite things – to go to a grocery store together).

Looking at the rest of the world and Finland, I want to say that Finland is lucky not to have air conditioning and tourists. Or rather, both are present in small enough quantities not to make a negative impact.

Since there was never a mandate for wearing masks in public, and even a mask advisory didn’t stay for long, it looks like most people do not quite understand that masks protect the general public, not mask wearers.

Finland has close to none cases for over a month, and most of the restrictions are already lifted.
I do not know how I would feel about what I see around if my personal circumstances would be different. Right now, the whole thing feels pretty surreal, so details do not matter :). But I would say two things.

First, what I see proves to me that our normal norm is not gone forever. Perhaps, the most unbelievable thing was seen crowds of people going to the stadium on Saturday night:). There is still a lot of protection on place, and if you pay attention, you notice, but it does not prevent most of life going as usual.

Second, on the second day of being here, I got a very strong feeling, which can be described as “there can’t be heaven in one place if there is hell in the rest of the world.” This first moment when I thought, “I want to stay here forever” was fast gone. Through that first day, Boris was telling me all the time: relax and see how peace looks like. But he agreed with me when I told him: it can’t be peace when there is a war all around. Until the virus is defeated in the whole world, it won’t be the end. We are very thankful for the forces above us, which gave as that holiday in the rear at the time of war. But that’s a time off from the front, not the end of the war.

In the course of the past several months, we were often saying to each other “when this all will be over,” presuming we won’t be able to see each other in person earlier than that. And now we feel very distinctly, that “this” is not over. We got a leave warrant for good behavior ๐Ÿ™‚