Shrek ja ikuinen onni

Trip Start Dec 10, 2012
Trip End Jan 12, 2012

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Flag of Finland  , Uusimaa,
Saturday, December 22, 2012

Another moment sitting in a lounge waiting for the next flight. We have arrived back in Helsinki and are waiting to board the Finnair flight from Helsinki to Warsaw. We have had the benefit of the 'Aspire' Lounge (rather befitting given we can't really afford it but are paying for it anyway) to relax, imbibe and take in some peace and quiet whilst we sit out the wait for the next flight. Alexandra and Saskia have both come down with a bit of a cold and have been feeling poorly. Yesterday was mostly spent in the cabin letting them watch DVD's and recover. They are well enough to move today but still need to rest. Thank god for Neurofen, that's all I can say.

I'm not sure which Shrek movie we're currently watching but which ever it is (it's in Finnish) Daniel is surely relating to it. It's the Shrek movie where he's effectively being the family 'donkey', carrying everyone's bags and looking after everyone's needs, with scarce time for himself. (I am happy to go without 'me time' but Daniel needs it every now and then.) I carry the girls, and he carries everything else. He is doing a magnificent job packing and generally arranging everyone's 'stuff'. He allows me to meet the girls' immediate needs, whilst he proves the steady back-up. That's the way we work together, and I really hope that one day the girls understand that Mama and Tata are actually one and the same.

Now we're ready to leave for Warsaw and I think Alexandra and Saskia are very much looking forward to seeing Babcia and Dziadek. (Grandma and Grandpa). Daniel is looking forward to peace and quiet, which will definitely not happen in Warsaw. It will no doubt be filled with expectation, history, learning, drama (the Raczkowski's are very passionate, dramatic, people) and hopefully a sense of place, of roots. I think he feels the weight of expectations or familial obligation, so this is part of the trip is his 'fate'.

Alexandra is keen to get out of ski gear into fashionable boots. Saskia is keen just to get into the pool at the Intercontinental, our next hotel stop. The weather in Warsaw is about -12, which is an improvement on the Rovaniemi -22 we experienced at breakfast this morning. I have told the girls that this is the coldest they are likely to experience. I know it will be for me. I have enjoyed the Arctic Circle but will be happy to leave it. When Alexandra woke in the night with a fever all I could think about was the worst case scenario (working in medical negligence all I see is the worst case scenario) and I wondered what I would do if something went seriously wrong.

The Arctic, or Northern Europe, is a very seriously cold part of the world. Daniel is completely happy here (he likes extremes) but I admit it is a little too extreme for my liking. It's beautiful yes, but you are completely at its mercy. Having sick children brings that very clearly into perspective.

We have all managed to eat and drink more than our entrance fee to our wonderful lounge, which has enabled the girls to rest and recover. This sort of thing would not work in Australia, where the 'all you can drink' bar would no doubt prove a cultural challenge. We've paid about $100 for 3 of us (Saskia was free) but I think Daniel and I have got enough money's worth for everyone.

So, as we get ready to leave Finland, I'd like to summarise what we've learnt:
There are poor in Finland but its very relative. A poor Finnish person would be very home in middle class Australia.
The Finns are wary of outsiders, but if you're a blond family you'll pass without suspicion.
Santa has many guises
Finnish people are so much quieter than Westerners
Finnish people working in tourism are exemplary
It's bloody cold here
It's a very beautiful country, the north particularly dependent on tourism.
Finnish culture is very beautiful.
Prices are comparable to Australia.
The Finnish aren't as anal as Australian. If an accident happens in the snow, it happens.

So, signing off, next stop Warsaw.

Alexandra just wants to say:
I had a great time.
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Leonie on

Yes it is seriously scary with little ones who get sick whilst OS in remote parts. I can identify with this. Thank goodness for international doctors and clinics or access to hotel doctors or village doctors. No doubt Santa must get sick from time to time and especially having so many helper elves they too must get coughs and cold and fevers. Always good to travel with a chemist warehouse full of lotions and potions - that can definitely help! Glad to hear you're moving to milder climates - only -2 degrees not -22! I'd be history!!!

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