I smuggled several dairy products and a box of lingonberries from Finland. The berries were only sold in large containers, so I could not finish all of the while I was in Helsinki. But then I remembered that when I was a young pioneer in the summer camp, we would pick lingonberries and store them in the jars or just cardboard boxes until our moms would come to visit. I remembered that nothing happened to them.
I decided to pack the rest of berries to take home, and it work perfectly fine, especially because I genuinely forgot I had them in my luggage and with all honesty told the custom control that I have no fruits or plants with me:)
Finished the box just yesterday – so good! Or, and by the way, out of all dairy which I smuggled I only ate one, the pear skyr. Anna and Nadia ate the rest :). I should smuggle more next time 🙂
As Anna put it, we had three visits in one. Anna and the girls came Friday evening. The girls went more or less straight to bed, and Anna and I talked till midnight (which was probably not the best idea, but we didn’t have one on one conversations for a really long time).
It was then a long morning at my house, and then we went to the market and picked pre-ordered bread, croissants and vegetables. Afterward, we visited my mom, and she was very happy to hold Kira and chat with all of us. Then we traveled to John and Anna’s house in Milwaukee, and I stayed there till midday Tuesday. Unfortunately, my situation at work is such that I could not take any additional time off, but we were still happy to stay under one roof for a couple of days.
The weather was not cooperating. It became sharply colder on Saturday, and I was completely unprepared. I was glad that I took a warmer coat, but frankly, I could take even a warmer one. We still went for several walks, but it would be better if the weather would be different. I already posted some pictures from the Havenwoods State Park, and here are some pictures from the neighborhood – the Halloween decorations there are very elaborate 🙂
I am speechless … Yesterday, only after I passed the border control at ORD and was waiting for my luggage, I realized that I was not sent through the health check, and I didn’t fill in the form with my phone and email address. The CDC does not trace returning international passengers anymore. While I was standing at the carousel, a lady in the airport service uniform handed me a card, which advised me to exercise normal caution. There was no public announcement about these changes, so I went to the us.gov website to check. It turned out – yes, the quarantine is not required “unless you participated in high-risk activities.”
Then I want to check what else has changed.
And guess what I found! All the Schengen countries are still on the list, meaning you can’t enter the US unless you have family or other compelling reasons to be here. The list includes (and mind you, the list was updated in September!) China, UK, and Ireland, all Schengen zone and Brazil. Period. Russia is still not on the list, but Finland is. Argentina and Columbia are not,
Oh, and funny thing. Last time, nobody asked me what I am bringing; the only important thing was temperature control. This time, both border control and customs asked me in detail, what I was doing in Finland, why I was in Finland, what I am bringing back, whether I have any food except for chocolate, and the total value of the clothes I brought back. When I told Anna, she asked whether they believed me :).
The weather forecast for these days in Helsinki was mediocre, but the reality appeared much better. So far, the only rain occurred last night, and it was over by 10 AM. I will need to work remotely on Monday and Tuesday, so I tried to be outside during the weekend as much as possible. Boris still is not allowed to bike after the surgery, so we walk a lot. Actually, I went for a bike ride yesterday: he forces me out :), but that was a very short one, and with relatively low speed: I was afraid to get lost – I never biked in Helsinki alone.
Back to walking. It was always better in Helsinki than back home, plus I wore boots for the first time this season, and I walk better in boots. But still: yesterday, I walked for 2 hours 40 min straight with no stops! I think it was the first time in four yeast that I could walk that long with no hint of pain. In April 2017, when Vlad and I were in London, we walked a lot, but I already started to feel pain back then. Today, I walked for 1.5 hours in the morning and then again for two hours in the afternoon. Just one word: happiness.
I think that if the Finnish government issued a free COVID test for me, it’s my moral duty to support Finnish Economy. With this in mind, I headed to the center of the city, hoping that the stores in Forum will be open at 11 AM (giving Sunday plus covid restrictions). TO my disappointment, nothing was open till noon,
I had no other choice than to go straight to the central Fazer store, which was fortunately open at 10 AM!
As I mentioned yesterday, a free COVID test is offered at the airport, it is voluntary, but I gladly went. They assigned me a temporal Finnish social security number to enter me into their system.
The total time to register for the test, wait, and have the test administered was about 40 minutes. They asked travelers to avoid public transport (sigh) and take a taxi, which I obliged.
I was ready to be quarantined for my whole stay, but they texted me a negative result in the middle of the night, only 10 hours after the sample was taken. Which, in addition to today’s research results, delivers positive news.
… Just remember how president Trump says he does not want our country to become socialist?! Yea, no chance, but… we can’t have THAT!
And BTW, do you know why Finland it rolling out this system? Because their economy is really dependent on holiday tourism and they want/need the tourist traffic. At the same time they care about their citizen and want ot be sure they are safe.
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!