Finland! I Went to Finland!

One of my best friends from high school moved with her Finnish husband to Tampere last year, and it was only a matter of time before I got out to visit. So early in May, I flew out to Helsinki, and all I had to do was figure out how to get on the bus for the 1.5-hour drive to Tampere. No problem, right?

Until I got to the airport and there was no employee around to ask about the bus. I asked a few people, some who didn't speak English, some who gave me conflicting directions, possibly because I butchered the pronunciation of Tampere. A bus pulled up that read "Tampere" so I just got on it, hoping for the best.  The bus went on a seemingly interminable journey, stopping at bus stops that were in the middle of nowhere (see below). Someone would scamper out of the woods from God knows where and we'd continue on our way. 

I kept drifting in and out of sleep because of jetlag. Was that my bus stop? I rode the bus to the end of the line and then considered my options. Thank goodness Penelope showed up! So happy to see her. I wasn't sure what I would do next if I was in the wrong town. 

While on the bus, I looked at the street signs and wondered how Penelope is learning Finnish. It looks so different than English. I am so impressed that she is tackling the language and can communicate, go to the grocery store, meet people, etc. I think I might just give up. 

The first few days, we explored Tampere. Here it goes!

I made Penelope buy this bread. McEnnedy American Way!! The Statue of Liberty! The bread was terrible though.

I had big plans about buying everyone I know these homoerotic Finnish stamps (you have to click on the link), but they weren't out at the post office yet. Drat! Had to buy these chocolate mints instead, as seen in Bon Appetit. 



Tour of the town! McDonalds has a prime spot! Speaking of...


A burger with tortilla chips and sour cream? McDonald's, you are holding out on us in the States.

We had pastries instead! Delicious!

We ate donuts too. They were cardamom-flavored and light and airy. They were from the sister location of this spot.

This is a burrito truck in Finland. 

I enjoy taking photos of interesting shop names. Exhibit A. 

Exhibit B. Or should I say D. 

It was so fun to tour around with a local. I'm betting I wouldn't have gone to this cool public library if I was by myself. 


The library is shaped like a turkey! Here is an aerial view. Penelope wasn't quite sure why. 

I had read that all mothers in Finland receive a box of baby supplies, thanks to the generous welfare state. And here's what's in the box. Those are some cute baby clothes. Who needs a baby shower? 

Tampere seems like such a livable, pleasant spot! We walked around the park and stumbled upon a dog class. And the coolest playground ever.

See, trampolines! This is the most air I got. The rest of the photos look like I am standing still. In my defense, you try jumping on a trampoline in ankle boots with a heel.

We also drove to the Ittala glassworks factory, where the famous Finnish brand produces Aalto vases, Kastehelmi bowls, and more. We walked through the museum, but unfortunately the factory itself was closed to visitors that day.


The factory store was wonderful. I spent a long time deciding what to get and wishing I could fill my suitcase with glassware. 

Ultimately, I went with the salmon pink vase! It was cheaper because it's a factory second. As Joe said, we could spend our whole lives trying to figure out what exactly makes it a factory second, looks perfect to me.