Happiness is a warm hotel room with delicious beer in the tiny frig, instant wifi access, the BBC, surrounded by a cozy, cold, rich but friendly, sophisticated but ‘regular’, smart and interesting country called Finland. And…well…I love it here. Helsinki, Finland. I AM VERY HAPPY IN SCANDINAVIA in general. When I arrive I feel at home but in a place I like better than real home. Scandinavia is what Minnesota and Iowa and Wisconsin could be if they tried harder and ridded themselves of the dastardly deeds of evil Republicans.
25 hours from wheels up in Albuquerque to touchdown in Helsinki. For a minute I want to be forgiving of the nastiness of travel and do the half-full glass. In 25 hours I am 5296.1 miles from my apartment. That really is remarkable. I was FED (would you believe very tasty food?–in Minnesota we call it mashed potato and hamburger hot dish but as I recall the Air France menu called it something else! And an interesting smoked salmon and pasta salad. And a baguette-like roll, not exactly a real baguette but better than a grocery store one); GIVEN AN EXTRA BLANKET and apologies in the coldest airline cabin I’ve ever experienced; and transported these 5296.1 miles SAFELY with only three delays due to weather-rain, weather-de-icing the place and careless people who checked in their baggage and then disappeared so it had to be found and unloaded (I think they were young, had a long enough layover to imbibe more than one wine and are shacked up in an airport hotel). The time spent on EXERCISE was positive as well. Getting to another terminal at JFK is comparable to one of my morning river walks; getting to another terminal at Charles De Gaulle is probably three morning walks. And hoisting my bags up and down is certainly a couple of hours on the machines. Fitness travel it’s called.
I rode with a group of young Russians on one leg and noted that while kids each dress more individualistically than we did back in olden times, they do look like the same individuals all over the world. And from Paris to Helsinki my cabin mates included 100 Chinese tourists on a tour to experience Christmas in Europe. I’m quite worried that they may not have heard Feliz Navidad or Alvin and the Chipmunks even one time. What kind of Christmas experience is that! They need to come to the good old US of A where we are classy holiday celebrators.
There you have it. Getting to Finland. Did I mention this makes me VERY HAPPY even if it’s not another passport stamp. In fact, while people looked at my passport at various points, no one stamped it. I don’t like that. Even though I philosophically think the world has far too many official borders…if I cross one I need my passport stamped!
The driving service driver who picked me up at the airport (thanks to this well-organized Nordic dance festival) is a Russian Finn and we talked about everything including the Trans Siberian Express which she has not done but has heard of and recommends.
I am checked into the same Scandic hotel that my wonderful (got that boys?) and I stayed at some years ago and they still have wooden pens. The front desk said I could take as many as I want so that will take care of me until I get back here on my way to Christmas in Lapland in 2014 or 15.
I can go to bed now. Tomorrow I’ll describe the first Finnish novel I read before I switched to a Swedish murder mystery for the plane. But tonight I have had two beers and potato chips for dinner (don’t tell me you have never done that at the end of a long travel day and your leftover egg salad is back in Albuquerque and you’re to tired to even order something real from room service. And besides I already had mashed potato hamburger hot dish sometime in what is about a 30 hour day since I rolled out of bed in Albuquerque.
This is a silly post but I am very tired and slightly drunk. HAPPY TRAVELS TO ALL and to all a good night.