In the Middle of Nowhere Finland
Trip Start Apr 01, 2011
22Trip End Apr 27, 2011
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We had enjoyed our sleep on the boat so much.. we slept in. Mind you.. we crossed into a new time zone in Finland.. and lost an hour.. so it was an easy error as far as I was concerned.
We walked off what was now a deserted ship (cleaning staff exempt). The terminal in Turku was also mostly deserted. I’m guessing we missed a call to disembark.
Getting out of Turku was really easy. There was a train waiting for us right there at the harbour. We hopped on and headed for Helsinki.
Regardless.. we got on a train a couple of hours later headed for Joensuu. Our destination: Imatra.
Imatra is not your typical tourist destination.. but I wasn’t going there to “get off the beaten track”. My family originated in that small town.. so for me it was more of a pilgrimage of heritage. Although most of my family moved to Australia in the 1960s.. my aunty Saara still lives there to this day.
On arrival in Imatra.. we had another issue. We had an address.. but no phone number. We had to make our own way to her place. There was an information office at the train station. The lady there had limited English skills.. but was able to help us and gave me a map to follow.
We thought about walking the 3-4 odd kilometres to her place.. but with our luggage in tow we thought better of it. There were a few taxis in a rank at the station so we opted for convenience over pain. The next tricky part was trying to explain to the waiting drivers that we wanted a lift to a particular address. I even showed them on the map.. but all they wanted to do was try and point us in the direction we should walk! After fruitlessly trying to explain our intentions.. a younger driver arrived who could communicate in broken English. After a laugh.. we were on our way.
I hadn’t seen my aunty in 25 years! When she saw me.. she had the biggest smile and gave me a big hug. She told me (in Finnish) that I look just like my father.
There was a slight communication barrier between us.. she doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak Finnish. But strangely enough.. she understands some English and I understand some Finnish. Go figure.
First thing she asked us was whether we wanted to eat.. and of course we did. We hopped in her car and went to a service station that served pizza. It wasn’t bad. I wanted to pay for the meal but she insisted on paying.
My aunt’s driving was a little scary.. a go fast and stop fast style.. the confidence of Mika Hakkinen.. and the driving precision of a drunk (not that she was!). There were a few times I feared for our safety.. but I chose to put my faith in her crazy driving and dilapidated car.. and sure enough.. we were ok.
We then returned to her little apartment to watch some Finnish TV and had an early night. I was dreading the next day as we had much to see and much more driving to endure.