Thursday, August 19, 2010

Getting to Finland

We left for Finland on Friday, July 31, 2010 at around 7pm and arrived in Helsinki on the morning of August 1, 2010.

Juan Ramirez, a co-worker of Kate's at River Heights Elementary, had recently bought our Toyota Sienna. We were sad to see it go but happy that Juan and his wife Alisha and their son Mason would be enjoying the "Swagger Wagon." If you don't know what I mean by that, check out this video. I don't mean to put a Toyota commercial in here, but the video is pretty funny!

Our friend and housemate Aliz helped us pack the van, we hugged the dogs. We were sad to say goodbye, but it was time, and off we went!

Of course, most overseas travel is a combination of working to get somewhere on time and then doing a lot of waiting. Then, you get onto some form of transport, in this case a plane, and sit for a long time. How is it that this is a tiring process? The girls were happy, at the Minneapolis airport, to open a going away present from our friends, the Jerries. We read, watched shows, slept (very little), talked to strangers (Kate) and listened to stories (the girls) our way across the Atlantic and had a brief layover in Iceland before making our way to Helsinki. This image shoes the plane's wing over the westernmost Finnish mainland soil:

Something to know: if airport security opens your stuffed duffel bag, they will not put it back together as well as you packed it. For us, this resulted in some of the contents of one of our bags rolling around on the luggage ramp and getting to us before our bags. We don't think we lost anything except a few minutes of concern. (Revision: we DID lose one thing: Analeise's favorite robe from Aunt Roberta!)
Our cousin Valto picked us up and was ready for four Americans loaded down with 10 months worth of clothing, school books, etc. He came with a mini-van and a trailer, which was great. After getting all our stuff to the car, off we were on a two-hour drive to Tampere (basically pronounced Tamp-air-eh. Try to roll the "r" just a tiny bit.) Valto came prepared with a snack of sausages, beer for the grown ups, and orange soda for the girls. After 13 hours of traveling, he was our hero.
We arrived at the apartment to meet the owners Matti and Anna-Liisa and also Johanna (pronounced Yo-anna), a liaison from the university TAMK, where Bryan will teach. They had a gift of groceries for a few days for us and many instructions about the swank apartment, which recently underwent a complete remodeling. The view from our place is of the Tammerkoski (Tampere Rapids), a waterway that is part of a rapids system that is dammed. It looks like a river at this point because of dams that were put in place in the 1900's. Looking east, from our kitchen and dining room, you see a pretty new bridge that leads to the Ratina stadium. Looking south, you see many trees and the river open up to Lake Pyhäjärvi under a curved highway bridge. We really got lucky with the apartment, both because it's nice and has a pretty view and also because it's located so centrally in the city. The girls and Bryan will be able to walk to school/work.

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