Moi moi from Finland! And thus begins the final part of Samantha’s Humble Tour, which will most likely be full of culinary adventures while I take over my friend Maaria’s kitchen, and essentially become her housewife (yay!). Since I’d spent so much time and energy planning for my English Dream Trip (which I’m pleased to say went without much of a hitch, and which I’ll summarise over the next few days), I honestly hadn’t given the Finnish part much thought apart from spending time with Maaria, participating in midsummer mayhem, learning about Moomins, catching up on some reading, catching up on lots of writing, and rolling around in pure Scandanavian happiness.
Despite the awesomeness of the sleeper train, my general failure at sleeping meant I didn’t really get much proper rest. The train stewardess knocked on my door at 6am to deliver breakfast on a tray, but I was too tired to eat anything, so I sipped on my tea and packed away the food for later.
The majority of my trip to Helsinki was fine, but the final leg (Oslo to Helsinki) was a little bumpy. Namely, I had 55 minutes between the “arrival” in Oslo and “departure” in Helsinki—while that might seem like plenty of time, a lot depends on a number of factors. Unfortunately, every one of the “uh-oh” factors were in play for that connection: there was a shuttle transfer from the Oslo plane to the terminal (15 mins with the taxi-ing), passport control, and another security check. With many apologies (and Japanese-esque bowing), I jumped the queues, and made it to the gate just a few minutes after boarding had commenced. But it turned out my haste was uncalled for, as the flight was delayed for some reason. Things got even more interesting once I had boarded, since the system had somehow double-booked a whole bunch of seats, and I kept being ushered to the back of the plane by an air stewardess who, while smiling, had no idea what was going on.
But it all turned out for the best, since the gentleman who sat next to me (another displaced passenger) was a Finn with lots of advice to impart.
And then there was Maaria! Yayayayay Sailormoon fan friends from the Interwebz!! \^____^/ The trip from the airport to her home in Espoo was €5,50, while dinner was a supermarket mishmash that I’ll have to calculate later, since I got too distracted by the awesome variety of Finnish chocolate.
Walked: 8,793 steps; 5.87km
Maaria left at 6:20am for work, but I stayed in bed, dozed, and had a fantastic dream about discussing Shakespeare with Tom Hiddleston. That’s one sure sign your day’s off to a brilliant start. Another important aspect is the glorious warmth of Finland. You might be sceptical (as I was), but golly, it is magnicient here when compared to the UK. Case in point: I have finally made use full of the dress I’d packed, my pasty legs saw the Finnish sun, the same bare legs ventured out for a walk at 10pm (though it got a tad chilly), and I’m still in the said dress while typing this.
After I’d finished bumming around in the morning/early afternoon, I did some reconnaissance of Maaria’s kitchen. Over the past year, I discovered I’ve developed a rather useful knack for playing around in others’ kitchens, and I did something similar while visiting my friend Prissi for two weeks in Southern California. As an incentive to Maaria for taking in my homeless, helpless self (oh, how woe befalls a Shakespearean-in-waiting!), I offered her my servies and (pseudo-)skills. I think of it as a win-win situation: Maaria can go to work without worrying about food-related things, and I can learn and experiment and cook up a storm without having to eat everything/run out of freezer space/make cake deliveries everyday (I’m wouldn’t be surprised if my neighbours have shed a few pounds since I moved out).
Now, I’d happily admit I know practically nothing about Finnish cuisine, which is both exciting and intimidating. Also, Maaria isn’t particularly helpful, because to her, everything’s Finnish, and she can’t think of anything “traditional” off the top of her head (don’t look at me like that—it’s true)! But after some Googling and some translating, I plodded off to the nearby supermarket. With a Moomin bag.
Yes, that Moomin bag is the best and I need to get one before I leave. I spent way too long at the supermarket, and got lots of strange looks for being that lost little Chinese-Australian in a decidedly non-touristy part of Finland… I somehow managed, and have learnt some food vocabulary along the way—who knows, I may become fluent in culinary Finnish after the fortnight!
I didn’t tell Maaria what I was making, so when she came home, I surprised her with kesäkeitto (summer soup) and karjalan piirakka (Karelian Pie), along with an intact kitchen (phew!). The recipe I got for the karjalan piirakka might’ve been a little wonky, cause it didn’t quite yield the correct amount… That being said, I don’t really know what they’re supposed to look/taste/feel like, but I certainly intend to master it over the next two weeks!
Maaria watched the latest Game of Thrones episode (6×09), I watched her reactions, and then, since the sun was still out, I went for a wee walk towards the beach, while Maaria wound down to get ready for bed.
Walked: 8,086 steps; 5.68km