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.
That time around, everything was different than back in July. First, Lufthansa allowed me to get a boarding pass online. Second, there was virtually no line to the LH counter in the airport. Third, the Terminal ! was packed with people!
also, now they do not allow masks with filters on board. I knew that it might be a case, so I bought a pack of KN95, and used four of them on the flights.
The documentation is still required, but this time, they didn’t consult the supervisor, but just marked me in. It’s so funny: we married for the only reason to make sure Boris can visit us here, no matter what. And the only time I really needed to use this document was for my entrance to Finland 🙂
Another new thing: even thought my passport was stamped in Frankfurt, they sent me to the border control again in Helsinki. So I had to show papers for the third time, and then they gave me instructions to quarantine, and I also went to take a COVID test (total extra time – about 40 minutes, free of charge).
At the beginning of April, when all the world was in the lockdown, and I thought that Boris and I would never see each other again, I mailed him a parcel. I put in it several small items that he purchased on Amazon for the upcoming biking season and which he was planning to pick up during his March trip, which did not happen. Also, I put some cookies that I baked for Easter and some vitamins, which I meant to give him to take home. And I mailed it, expecting it to travel slowly. Well, it was sitting hear in Chicago for a while, it moved from one facility to another, and finally, it left O’Hare on May 5. And then I lost a trace of it.
I asked Boris to contact the Finnish postal service, but he didn’t feel like doing it :). He re-ordered some of the things which got lost, and I brought them with me at the end of July. And then, a week after I left, he received a notice from the Finnish customs. It turned out that somebody swapped the street number and the apartment number (I wrote it correctly on the envelope, so it might get messed up in the system). They actually wanted Boris to pick it put at the customs, but since they were trying to contact somebody else all that time, the parcel was marked as not claimed, and the day Boris got the note, the parcel was sent back to me.
I got it today. As expected, the cookies were gone bad, and I guess all the bike parts are still good :). I am glad that “matter does not disappear,” it would be worse if the package would never be found, but still…
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 a huge line. People were trying to maintain the distance, so the line became very long and spiraling.
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 🙂
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.