Visiting Finland

Trip Start May 19, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Finland  , Oulu Province,
Monday, June 9, 2008

June 9, 2008
After our lovely trip to Stockholm, our group decided to take advantage of a 3 day weekend.  It was pretty easy to agree that we should make a visit to Finland. Lulea is only about 2 hours from the boarder of Finland. So, we gathered up some Euros, rented a car for the weekend and departed Friday morning. Along the way we spotted some ragged reindeer grazing along the highway and even a moose! Just before crossing the boarder, we stopped at a mega IKEA.  We browsed down the winding aisles, admiring everything but purchasing nothing. Thank goodness America is blessed with these posh super stores because it was hard to leave empty handed! Before leaving the store, we ate at the IKEA café, I had yummy vegetarian ratatouille and Kyle had a big plate of Swedish meatballs. Very tasty and fresh, also the cheapest meal we've had at about $6 a plate. We got back on the highway and headed toward Oulu, Finland.
 Oulu turned out to be a cute city comparable to Lulea, but with a nice sandy beach and recreation area. We stayed there in two cabins, walking distance to the beach. As the sun almost set, we gathered on the beach enjoying the slight breeze and sparkling waves. The sun hovered over the horizon, giving us what seemed like an eternal sunset of blushing tangerine.
In the morning we went to Oulu's center square to enjoy a lively farmer's market. We saw fresh produce, baked goods, vendors frying up potatoes, long slices of salmon, smaller whole fish, and kebabs. From what we've seen, Scandinavia seems to be big on kebabs, and their take on Greek salad is pretty unusual to me. I tried one in Stockholm and got a surprise to see it included a hefty layer of peas and corn.  After walking from vendor to vendor, we settled down with a beverage and a good opportunity to people watch. I had an iced café latte, and Kyle had a Coke, of course. We spotted lots of babies in strollers with sun umbrellas, grannies with push carts, and man dressed as He-Man.
Afterwards, we drive out of the city and visited the Williamsburg of Finland, aka Turkansaari open-air Museum. This gave us a chance to experience Finland in its colonial years. We practiced walking on stilts, saw recreations of early homes, settlements, and such. This only set us back 1 Euro each.
Before heading back to Sweden, we stopped in downtown Oulu to do some wandering and shopping. I bought some fabric at Mariemecko, all designs were inspiring and bold. I plan to stretch it over a frame someday and hang it as art. With Kyle's undying appetite for Kebabs, he found a spot to order a plate and I had some falafel. For the record, we do want to try traditional Scandinavian foods, we just haven't found any affordable restaurants yet.
Feeling like weary travelers, we headed back to Sweden on Saturday afternoon. Now it's Monday, everyone is at the University, and there is a bit of mist in the air.
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