***

Boris flew in on Friday, and it took him almost two hours to get through the immigration. He said there were just two agents for several hundred people. Then, we made a mistake. Or rather, I let this mistake happen.

Since we moved to the city, Boris said that now we do not need to take Uber to the airport because we can take L. I told him it would be a very long trip because you need to get into the city and get out again. Last time, I called Uber because we were fixing things until the last minute.

Now he mentioned it again, and I said – let’s.

Because the inner airport train is still not operating, it took us 30 minutes to get Terminal 5 to Terminal 2. And then – another two hours with all the waits! I told him – at least, it was on the way from the airport, not the other way πŸ™‚

I hope that one experiment was enough πŸ™‚

Now, That I Live So Close To The Beach…

… why am I still going to the Indiana Dunes with Igor? Aside from this being a tradition, the huge part is the luxury of being cut from the civilization for several hours: there is still no internet and no cell coverage on the beach.

And I can’t even describe how much I needed it! Three hours doing nothing πŸ™‚

Lake Michigan continues to rise, and the beach we used to go to is not there anymore

Traveling In The Opposite Direction

Because I was so absorbed with my move, I didn’t even tell anybody about Boris’s visit – the first time after November 2019.

He technically could come through all that time as a spouse of a US citizen. But first, there were no flights. Then, it was really bad here, and I didn’t want him to come and sit inside for a week. Later, it became possible for me to travel, and you know the rest. Boris said he didn’t want to get sick outside Finland, which I could understand.

Long story short, he felt comfortable traveling after his first dose (In Finland, due to the vaccine shortage, they have a twelve weeks interval between two doses).
Like when I traveled to Finland, he has to present the papers twice more than the number of borders he crossed. But unlike with me, one situation became very serious.

He checked -in for both flights on the way to Chicago, but just when he was about to board the plane in Frankfurt, they didn’t let him on. An official told him that B1 travelers from the Schengen zone are not allowed, and “if he were traveling from Russia, it would be fine.” Boris pleaded with him that in his case, he could travel, and in the end, they reissued him a boarding pass, and he boarded – the last passenger on the flight.

He had no problems passing the border control here, and the officer, as it often happens, was amused with our family arrangements :).

He also had to take the test on the way back, and it turned out that the only way he could do this was to come to the airport yet another hour earlier. It all worked fine, and there were no more issues. However, Boris is still bitter that the Biden administration didn’t do anything with this ridiculous situation when people can’t travel from the Schengen countries but can travel from Russia. And I agree πŸ™‚

A Flight Back

I have only one more thing to tell you about my trip to Helsinki, that is about the flight back.

During my pandemic travels, I learned that I need to plan whether I am going to eat on each of the flights. My flight from Helsinki departed at 7-20 AM, which means we left the house at 5 AM, and I didn’t have breakfast. When I was checking in, they told me that the flight is “almost full” (and for that reason, they checked my luggage, even though I had the “light” fair). That meant that I didn’t want to take my mask off on the plane, so I bought my breakfast at the airport and ate it in the far corner of the cafe.

It turned out that it was the right call to go back to the medical center and ask to fix the typos in my name: the certificate was checked at least four times! And each time, whoever checked it, verified my name on the certificate against my passport.

Continue reading “A Flight Back”

Getting Tested In Helsinki

Two weeks before I left for Helsinki, I started to research where I can take a COVID test prior to my return. All my online searches ended the same way. After finding a place end trying to see how to schedule an appointment, it would bring me to the page, which would require identification with the local bank card (that’s how people in Finland get access to their medical records.
Natasha called them, and they told her that I do not need to go to the airport. I can call and schedule an appointment in the city. The cost of the test and certificate will be 265 euros, which is 315 dollars.
I came to Helsinki on Saturday, and on Monday morning, we started calling. Yes, the nurses speak English, but the automated system speaks Finnish :).
On the second try, we figured out what were the hours of operation and called later. There was a new message :), which asked – press one to call back. There was no option to “remain on the line.”

All was good, except we had no idea when they will call back, and Boris had to teach online for three and a half hours on that day. That was the reason why I chose Monday to meet with Natasha.
As we expected, they called during the class, but thankfully they called back one more time, and I was able to schedule an appointment for Wednesday. On Tuesday, we walked there to make sure we know where the place is. It was a good call because the testing lab and the medical office were in two separate buildings.

On Wednesday, I went for the test. On the phone, they asked me to bring a passport to put the passport number on the certificate. But they didn’t do it when taking the test; they only checked it to see that that was me :). Also, they told me that I would need to pay when I am picking up the certificate. And that I should not come back until I know I have a negative result.
All of this left me slightly worried – what if the result won’t be there on Thursday morning? However, Thursday morning, Boris received a text message: login to view your test results. Ha. I can’t log in! I do not have the banking identification!

We called them again; and, again, pressed one for a callback. An hour later, somebody called. I started to explain that I can’t view the results, and a lady said: yes, that’s why I am calling. Your result is negative, and you can pick up your certificate. But first, tell me your passport number so that I can put it on the certificate.

I went there, paid for the certificate, and we even stopped in the Fazer cafe for some salmon soup – that was the only day I was officially out of the quarantine, and also, we found a cafe where every other place was marked as “do not sit here.”

Funny story. When we were already back home, the medical center called back: did you call us? It turned out, that the nurse who called us in the morning, didn’t “call back,” but just called, because she knew I won’t be able to view the results πŸ™‚

Everything was great. We stopped to buy some bread and dairy for me to take back to Chicago. Then we came home, and I went for one more short walk before starting my half-day at work.

I planned to start working at 4 PM (8 AM Chicago time) to do some coding before my first meeting at 9 AM. I printed the attestation copies, which are now required to enter the US, and took my certificate out of the envelope. I looked at it and saw that my last name was misspelled!!! Three characters off, which is not a surprise with the last name as long as mine!

I looked at my watch. It was 4:05. Boris said: three characters are OK for the airlines, but… I said: yes, not these days! The Aavo center was still open, and I hurried up there! It was -3F, and ai had to put layers and layers on myself. Fortunately, the tram came right away, and when I arrived, they told me to go to the second floor to the nurse. The whole thing took less than fifteen minutes, and I hurried back with the new certificate. On the way back, the tram driver saw me running to the stop and waited for me. I opened the apartment door at 4:58 πŸ™‚

Seurasaari

Today, I didn’t do any remote work at all, and in the morning, we met with my friend Natasha and her daughter (my goddaughter) Sonechka to take a walk on the island of Seurasaari. It is a huge open-air museum of traditional Finnish architecture, but you can’t enter the dwellings in winter. All you can do is walk around and admire them from the outside, which we gladly did.

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Helsinki Day 2

On Monday, I met with my friend Natasha, and we had a long walk. Let me tell you this: Boris does not like eating outside, and never did. I mean, he really dislikes eating outside. And I always loved it, and my kids love it :). It always surprised me, that in Finland, people love eating outside so much, even in a very cold weather. And they make it fun! I can’t imagine eating outside in Chicago at 10F temperature and not feeling miserable. But yesterday, sitting by the open fire at Regatta, I enjoyed it immensely!

Continue reading “Helsinki Day 2”

Flying Again, And New Rules Again

Lufthansa rules. They are making sure people do not sit together if they are not related. And this is way more important than having three different choices of meals (Lufthansa still has pasta with carrots:)). They allow only surgical masks on the flight and during onboarding/disembarkment. I am happy that this time, I checked that it is LH, not United! 

Remembering my last time experience, I decided to prepay for the seats (the ticket price was insane already, in any case). When I was choosing the seats, I felt a little bit nervous when I saw that almost all the seats are open, but it turned out that they are closing the seats adjoined to the selected seats. And they changed my preselected seat on the second flight to make sure people are set sparsely, even in the smaller plain. Good for them!!!

For the long flight, I chose the aisle seat in the middle section. I was taking notes during my previous flights, and I observed that there are higher chances that the will be no more people in the row if I sit in the middle section. It worked perfectly. There was one more lady in the same section (s seat apart from me), but she switched to the other empty section, so I had three seats for myself. In combination with the fact that there was no good internet connectivity, this extra space allowed me to have several hours of sleep. 

All the procedures changed again. It feels like each time I am flying I have to present my marriage certificate one more time. This time, it was four times: at the Lufthansa check-in in O’Hare, when crossing the border in Frankfurt, when boarding the plane in Frankfurt to Helsinki and in Helsinki. There is an additional makeshift border control point at terminal 2, right when you get off the bus. Also, they do not do a free COVID test in the airport; instead, they require you to have the negative test with you when you arrive, and then they ask you to take the test three days after arrival. 

There is no way to take it for free, as I found out, so I will only take the test to be allowed to board my flight back. 

But the good news are that I am here :).