Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Memories - What We Did On Our 1999 Scandinavian Vacation - Part 2

  I have found more of my memoirs that I wrote after some of our summer vacations, and many of them included genealogy highlights. So I'm going to share these memories in a series of posts.  Maybe I'll even find some photos to illustrate the posts.   

Mia and Anne were our foreign exchange students from Finland in 1994.  We had a marvelous time getting to know them and enjoying their company.  Our daughter Tami had a car and they were able to go all over San Diego (and we all went to Los Angeles one time) and enjoy a three-week summer vacation.  Mia's family in Tornio, and Anne's family in Kuopio, invited us to come visit them, so we did in the summer of 1999.  By this time, Mia and Anne were in college.

I wrote Memories - What We Did On Our 1999 Scandinavian Vacation - Part 1 last week.  Here is Part 2.


What We Did On Our 1999 Scandinavian Vacation 
(29 July to 17 August 1999) - Part 2


On Friday, 6 August, we drove with the Henriksson's from Tornio to Kemi and visited Kalle’s sister, Kaisu for a short time.  Then it was off to Oulu to visit Mia's university.  We walked through the classroom and administrative area, and then went to Mia’s new apartment, where she and we met her roommate for the year.  

We then drove to Kuopio in the center of Finland, which is about 400 kilometers from Tornio.  Mia had contacted Anne, and Anne’s parents had invited all of us to stay with them there.   The parents, Jussi and Raija, spoke very limited English, but the girls are great translators.   They also allowed us to sleep in their bedroom, while Kalle and Aila slept in Anne’s room, and Mia and Anne slept in the living room.  Jussi and Raija slept at Anne’s apartment in downtown Kuopio. 

On Saturday, Jussi and Anne took us to downtown Kuopio, where we walked through the open market place and took a short tram tour of the downtown area and the harbor.  The girls went shopping, and the guys went to Kuopio church and saw a wedding ceremony, then walked to the harbor and had a drink and an ice cream.  We then met the girls and visited Anne’s apartment.  We took a harbor cruise in the afternoon (about two hours) which went around the lakes encircling Kuopio, which is very beautiful with lakes, forests, streams and hills.  Before heading home, we drove to the Puijo Tower and went to the top for pictures and sightseeing. 

Raija had stayed home to prepare dinner, which was different and delicious.  Wonderful hospitality again.  After dinner, we hiked to the top of the hill near their home, and watched a beautiful sunset.  Linda gave Mia and Anne some Olympic socks and they immediately wanted to wear them shopping (Mia and Anne were the Finnish Olympic Shopping Team in 1994).


On Sunday morning, we had breakfast, took pictures and said our goodbyes to Anne's family.  

During the long drives, Mia taught Randy language lessons, so he could do basic greetings and pleasantries, count to ten, and tell what he had for breakfast.  He felt like a trained monkey sometimes, but it was fun.  Linda helped Mia with her Spanish (this girl is fantastic - she knows Finnish, Swedish, German, English and is working on Spanish). 

We stopped in Mikkeli for lunch with Kalle’s friends, Harri and Irmeli, who were spending the weekend at their summer cottage.  Then it was on to Helsinki, where we arrived about 3 p.m. and parked in Harri’s parking garage after unloading the bags at the hotel.  Aila had arranged for rooms at the hotel that serves the Finnish Red Cross.  The rooms were spacious and bright.  The hotel was on Tehtaankatu, located next to the Russian embassy in the area south of the downtown area.  Mia stayed with Paivi, a friend from her university who was on a work/study program in Helsinki.  The first night we walked to a nearby Italian restaurant, and after dinner Randy, Kalle and Aila walked through the embassy district to the beach area where they watched bungee jumping, had an ice cream, and then returned to the hotel through the Kaivopuisto park.

Kalle had arranged a day trip via catamaran boat to Tallinn in Estonia, about 60 kilometers south of Helsinki.  We left Helsinki on the boat about 7:30 a.m. and arrived in Tallinn around 9 a.m.  After waiting an hour to get through passport control, we took a bus to the large market place.  We walked around the open air market for awhile, then went inside and shopped some more.  Kalle bought a Miko Sala shirt to wear to Italy for a car race.  We then took a taxi to the downtown area, and stopped at an outdoor restaurant and had lunch.

After lunch, the girls went shopping in the old town area of Tallinn, while the guys hiked up to the Castle and visited two churches and some shops.  The guys walked down to the old town area and met the girls at an outdoor restaurant where we all had a drink and rested.  After more shopping, we searched for a restaurant for dinner, and settled on McDonald’s!  We then went back to the harbor area to catch the catamaran back to Helsinki.  The wind had increased, and the ride across the Baltic Sea was very rough, with some sickness on board (including Aila and Linda).  

On Tuesday, we toured Helsinki.  We went downtown to take a bus tour, which visited the Tempeliaukio Church (underground with rock walls) and the Sibellius Monument (with large outdoor organ pipes), and drove past the Olympic Stadium, the Opera House, Finlandia Hall, Parliament House, Cathedral and Senate Square, Presidential Palace and Uspenski Cathedral. 

 After the tour, Randy and Kalle went to the library to visit the Internet and the Cathedral while the gals went shopping.  We met for lunch, then Randy, Kalle and Aila took a boat to Suomenlinna, the fortress in Helsinki harbor, for sightseeing, while Linda and Mia went shopping.  That night, we had dinner at the Happy Days restaurant in downtown Helsinki.   Then it was back to the hotel to pack.

After a quick breakfast at the hotel and packing the car, we headed for the airport.  We said goodbye to the Kalle, Aila and Mia after 9 days with them, with many thanks, hugs and kisses for a wonderful experience and a lifelong friendship.

Stay tuned for the next part of this vacation saga - some genealogy!


Copyright (c) 2024, Randall J. Seaver

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