Night number 2… or 3 if you consider our flight from Charlotte included an overnight leg to England before our connection to Helsinki, Finland.
Saturday, when we finally ended our travels in Helsinki it was 3pm EET while only 8am EST… it was a bit odd adjusting to the time zone after sleeping on planes and rushing between connections filling water bottles, quick meals and bathroom breaks. After jumping in our rental car (manual) we headed to our Airbnb to settle in. The city was as snow/ice covered winter wonderland, just what I’ve been jonesing for! The evening light was quickly fading but we easily found our rental and settled in a bit.
Maria, our host was incredibly helpful the last week providing tips for me before our arrival, the first place we went after settling in was the budget market called Lidl… it’s a bit like Aldi, but prices were higher than home. Thank God for Google translate because we needed it for a few packages where pictures didn’t quite cut it. We chuckled at our one, (albeit over-flowing) bag of groceries that set us back 49 euros, but hey, we have to eat, right?
Perk of the night was an evening at Löyly, a Finnish public sauna. As much as we’d all have liked to crawl into bed at 6pm and try to recover from the travel, we bucked up and made it to our appointments. After several sauna sessions, cooling off and relaxing Marty and I bit the bullet and went to dip in the sea after our last steam. Brrrrr!! We only made it in waist deep, fearing we would slip off the icy stairs and end up plunging all the way in, we dipped, popped out, and scurried back to the smoke sauna to warm up… finally, heading home. It was very relaxing and we all felt much better! Brea fell asleep in the back seat of the car and doesn’t remember the drive back, it was that good! After quick showers, laundry started and small bites we all crashed for the night enjoying the beauty of good, exhausted sleep!
Sunday morning began lazily, I enjoyed waking up before Marty and Brea to enjoy my hot tea and porridge. After everyone got moving and the car was packed up we looked around the historic district admiring the Russian influence in areas and finally headed north. We have northern lights to see after all!
Seven hours later we arrived to our next Airbnb in the countryside right outside of Oulu. We luckily caught a glimpse of northern lights along the way, but they were not very strong so we continued driving. Upon arrival at our remote and beautiful cabin, we were greeted by the owners, given the run down on how the cabin functioned with the wood fire heat and they were on their way. The home is picturesque, surrounded by snow laden forest, shoveled walks and the stars in full view. After quickly settling in we went to enjoy another sauna session; our host Jussi started the fire for us so the sauna was hot and ready upon arrival. I’m now begging Marty to allow us to put a sauna in at home; it’s so relaxing and rejuvenating! After sitting in the steam for a while we’d all run out to the deck and “cool down”, just to run back to the sauna for another round. Needless to say… enjoyable evening!
Dinner was toasted sandwiches, coke, hot tea and a bit of chocolate while watching Despicable Me 3. It was a nice cozy evening relaxing together. I ran outside on occasion to check the skies for northern lights but alas, no additional sighting at the cabin.
My hot tea is caffeinated (forgot to pick up a nighttime tea) so Marty and I are lounging and watching a bit more tv before calling it a night. Tomorrow we drive the rest of the way to the arctic circle where, fingers crossed, we will see a spectacular show of northern lights!
Charity & Marty