Avi puked all over his travel outfit a half hour into the drive to Madrid. I had to move him up front and give him some Dramamine to avoid more vomit smell.  Luckily our hotel near the airport had a blow dryer, so I washed his pants really well in the sink,  rang them out in the towel and blew them warm before hanging to dry on the shower. In the morning they required a bit more 5am blowing, that I’m positive everyone else appreciated, to be wearable. It was an eventful start to our trip north.

We drove to the airport and parked in the sweet free diplomatic parking that comes with the job and headed to terminal 1 for check in. We boarded the plane as the sun came up. Norwegian airlines was nice: food not included, but free wifi! The 4.5 hours went fast. Somehow my life has brought me to a place where that seems very short. Avi slept, Zoe read, and I did a little of each.

 It was cold off the plane, but we quickly hopped on the local 516 bus into the central part of Helsinki.  We are in Finland!  The dire was so pretty despite the overcast clouds: lots of cute colorful homes, apartments with shared gardens, forest lands with trails, and leafy streets in town. The bus dropped us near the train station so we went in there to search an info booth with no luck, but did dig out our winter coats and gloves. We walked a pleasant way to the ferry dock, stopping once along the way to eat some tasty tacos at a place called “eat, love, taco” as far as we could tell.

There is a ton of water around here; the coastline is so jagged and full of islands!  Our goal was the cluster of islands called Suomenlimna. It had been a fort established by King Gustav of Sweden when this was part of Sweden and then expanded by the Russians before Finland was an independent nation. The ferry out was fast and included in our public transpo day card.   Our hostel was in the old Russian primary school. There is no one at reception after 3 so I typed the code in the door and found ou envelope with a key!  That is the kind of place this is.

 We explored until it was too dark… Finding cannons and scenic old Russian apartments where Finnish people still live today!  We watched the lights of Helsinki turn on and got microwave dinners at the tiny but impressive grocery.

This was a place both kids could visualize themselves living in! Even in the cold.

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