Staying in Oulu, Finland for four weeks is the longest we have consistently been living in one place since leaving New Zealand in February.
Some of the highlights (for me) from our time here include: visiting Anu’s sauna at least twice each week (she has a private sauna in her bathroom in her condo); getting to meet the real Santa Claus in the Lapland town of Rovaniemi; a weekend visit from our other Finnish friend Tanja (Tahn-yuh); meeting Anu’s mom, dad, and brother in the rural town of Kestila; and, of course, the new foods we’ve tried.
Foods I’ve had in Oulu for the first time include:
- -Karjalan pies (pronounced Kah ray lee ann)
- -Bear salami
- -Moose sausage
- -Smoked salmon and blue cheese “roses” (salmon roses)
- -Reindeer (pretty normal to eat in Finland and actually quite good)
Foods I’ve had before, but considered to be exceptional in Finland include the salmon and the mashed potatoes.
Both items I’ve eaten here have been the best I’ve ever had.
Finnish people as a whole are a “prepared for the future” type group, in terms of how they construct buildings, how they plan their cities, and how they relate to one another. I think this may come from the fact that historically, Finland had to be ready for the Russians and the Swedes at any point (surprise attacks taught them to be prepared). it also may come from the fact that in Finland, if you are not prepared for winter, it can (and probably will) kill you.
Thanks to Anu’s tutelage, we’ve learned how to say words like:
- Joulupukki (yo lo bukkie) – Santa Claus (literally “Christmas goat”)
- hyvää yötä ystävä (Hoo vuh, Oh tuh, Ooh stuh vuh) – Good night friend
I will miss Finland, a country where it was easy to go for a walk in the forest (because the forest is always close by), and a really wonderful 4 weeks which were quite remarkable in that we had a daily routine.
Things I still haven’t done that we will return to Finland to do (in addition to visiting friends:
- Experienced an all-day day (when the sun stays above the horizon for 24 hours – in June)
- Seen the northern lights (apparently most likely to happen when it is super cold and clear – December or January)