Saturday, February 22, 2014

Another 6 months later

We rose in the 4 a.m. darkness, got all bundled up, and set off on foot, baby and suitcase in tow.

It reminded me of another scene...the one where we were trying to leave Estonia for Russia. But there was no snowstorm this time, and we were trying to get OUT of Russia. David's 6-month registration was up.

We were Finland-bound.

One ticket to Helsinki, please!
We'd had some tentative offers to go by car, but when nothing worked out, it seemed more and more likely that the train was the right option for us. It certainly has many features that make it easier to travel with a child. You can move about (except when passports are being checked) freely. Children do not have to be restrained in a carseat. There are no traffic jams. The bathroom facilities are always available. The border officers come onboard to check documents, which saves time and also means less putting on/taking off of winter garments.

We took the hi-speed "Allegro" train from St. Petersburg to Helsinki, which takes 3.5 hours. I do have to say that I experienced some motion sickness, which I don't remember from previous train journeys. Maybe it was the speed? Or the terrain? It wasn't too bad, though. It was just hard trying to walk up and down with David because it sort of threw my balance off and contributed to motion sickness.

We took the early morning train, which was nice and quiet. We were exhausted, but at least we had a whole day to spend in Helsinki and it wasn't wasted on the train.

David didn't sleep much on the way there, so that meant we could all crash and take naps once we arrived. The hotel got our room ready early in anticipation of our morning arrival, which was another blessing.

There is never enough time to do everything! I half-joked to Andrei that we were going to spend the time catching up on our sleep from the night before.

We headed to explore the bookstore first and got a few Moomintroll books as a remembrance of our trip.

After that we were ready for lunch/dinner and headed to a Japanese restaurant. The night was young, but we were tired. I was hoping to fit in some evening tea somewhere, but David fell asleep on the way back to the hotel. It was not even 7pm and he usually goes to bed at 10. It was almost 9pm in Russia, though. So much for our evening in Helsinki!

I decided to go to bed too, but then David woke up and continued to wake up several times throughout the night. So much for the comfy king-sized bed!

The breakfast buffet in the morning was delicious, and then we checked out and headed over to the Contemporary Art Museum. David was asleep again-apparently on Russian time, as it was only about 12 noon local time. So much for a nap in the train!

David missing a cultural experience

Our train ride back was pretty smooth despite David's rejected attempts to make friends with a rowdy group of Swedes. He still managed to flirt with one of our neighbors, and Andrei later rocked him to sleep for a pre-arrival nap.

Now we need to get David registered again for 6 more months. In the summer we'll probably make a trip to the U.S., and next February or March we'll be looking to take another registration trip. Ukraine doesn't look likely and we've done Finland and Estonia, so maybe we'll look for a new destination.

Being in Finland brought up temptation towards materialism. I don't think it would feel that way if I hadn't lived in a poorer country. I feel the sort of hoarding tendencies rise up...we don't have that in Russia, so I should buy it, right? So many beautiful, high quality products. So many elevators for stroller navigation. A tram that moves so smoothly that it is almost noiseless as it moves across the tracks. Northern country and new language aside, I almost wanted to live there, after being in Russia. Yes, we "dream" of getting out of here sometimes. But I know these things are part illusion. There is no ideal place to live. And we have a Divine Trip Planner-He knows where we need to be.

Proof I was at a museum!


  1. Very interesting that you brought up the temptations to materialism that Helsinki offered. I experienced something of the opposite feeling when we were in Russia. Part of my desire not to go back to the US was just a feeling of peace that came over me without SO MUCH STUFF.

    I have to realize that part of the peacefulness is the lack of work and social commitments....but, frankly, the idea of living in a small and simple apartment, with storage too limited to have much STUFF was sooooo appealing.

    I guess we all want what we don't have. Do you feel that way when you come back to the states?

  2. I enjoy the simplicity when I'm at a retreat or in a hotel room, for example. I like unpacking my few belongings and getting it set up. I like the IKEA compact floor plans. But I'm not good at throwing things out, so I do need storage space.

    I do tend to shop a lot when I'm in the States. There's no beating the prices or convenience. I buy our clothes for the year and I'm done with it. In Finland it's more "eye candy" and in the U.S. it's convenience. However, in the back of my mind I know there is a cost. The low prices are probably due to someone somewhere not getting a fair wage. Yet that is characteristic of designer clothing as well. So there's that.

    1. So true. I am REALLY bad at throwing things out, too. My delight in the hotel and apartment living, denies the reality of my personality. Everything has meaning for me....or if not that - it might be useful some day!


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