zaterdag 18 maart 2006

Dangerous love?

The roots of my family–in-law are Finnish, so for a long time a visit to this Scandinavian country was planned, a destination which is known for its overwhelming, unspoiled nature and incredible peace. Helsinki Airport was covered with fresh crispy snow when we arrived and the strong wind helped to speed up our taxi. The centre of the capital is rather small with the interesting spots in easy reach by foot. The pavements of the shopping area were heated and invited us to walk along. Days are very short in the winter, but the illumination of the alleys and esplanade were so colorful that the sun was barely missed.
The guidebook told us that the island of Suomenlinna (Castle of Finland) is a must-to-see, located at the entrance of Helsinki's harbor and within a 15 minutes distance by boat from the Market Square. At this time of the year it freezes for weeks, so it was a heavy and noisy, yet interesting experience to break a way through the iced sea. Although the island has 2000 permanent inhabitants, it is in fact an open-air museum and protected by Unesco. It is quite a stroll along the colonial wooden houses in cheer yellow and blue, the fortress constructions and dangerous cliffs and one could easily spend a day here.
Equipped with the camera we followed the signs to the Dolls and Toy museum which
promised to house a lot of old teddies too. Unfortunately it was closed! But I promise that I will return soon and show you the result later.

It is obvious that people in the teddy world love most fur-covered animals in general and are less interested in cold, sleek skin. How many of you do cuddle a cat or dog and how little of you would house a reptile or bird? Well, I am no exception to this rule: I adore my cats Nada and Pipeloen, and if it was up to me I would keep dogs too. So it is no wonder that I definitely wanted to join a husky safari in the most Northern part of Finland,Lapland. The Big Brown Bear also choose this area as his domicile, but information learned that an encounter with this family would luckily not be an option as they would be in long hibernation.
Hundreds of kilometers north from the Polar Circle the landscape only show snowcovered
fir-trees, frozen swamps and again white firs, but nature compensates this
monotony with the most challenging dawn. Pink, blue and purple were fighting for the
best places in the sky and with no other noise then the howling voices of the huskies I
fancied myself on another planet. The thermometer showed -35 Celsius, each step gave a
little crack as a reply, and my nostrils hurt with every inhalation, but the huskies didn’t care. They greeted us exuberantly and showed so much affection that I nearly fell over.
Each sled for the safari was pulled by a set of 6 dogs, a mix of the Siberian and the
Alaskan husky, and they can take you as far as 120 km per day! There is no doubt that I
enjoyed every minute of the expedition, yet very grateful that we could have a break after a few hours and defrosted ourselves in a typical wooden Sami-tipi.
Less cheerful, but serious minded the reindeers were awaiting us the next morning. Their reaction was a bit shy and they were keeping me off when I tried to hug them and touch their fur. They simply resigned themselves to the track they had to follow, thoughtfully and slowly. Each quadruped pulled a one-person-sled and in these surroundings I definitely felt like a female Santa Claus.
Back at Helsinki Airport I was searching for a little souvenir to bring home. Clearly the real Brown Bear is hunted after in Finland, as amongst the jars with Blue Berry jelly and packages with salmon, I also discovered some tins with Bear-pate and Bear-soup. Obviously a real treat here in Finland. Maybe I should take a closer look at my family-inlaw!

Cheerio, take care,

Anna Koetse
Anna Koetse’s

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