So, guess where I was when I wasn't blogging? I went to Finland! Yes, me, who doesn't like to travel and once swore that it was her life's goal to never own or need a passport. :D
Justin had to go there on travel, and I, on a crazy whim, decided that I would go with him. Because, you know, people who love hot weather like myself will always love to go to Finland in January. *roll eyes* But surprisingly, it was not that cold. It only snowed the first couple days we were there (and not all day) and there was no accumulation, it all melted. I saw a few large piles of snow on various sidewalks but I'm guessing that was leftovers from snow being plowed earlier in the season. The temperature on Thursday actually got up to 4C (about 39F for us crazy Americans) but it was windy and so it felt colder than any of the other days.
We spent the first part of our trip in Tampere (pronouned "Tahm-purr-ay") because that's where Justin had his meetings. While he was busy I decided to walk around Tampere a bit--I was originally going to travel around more by bus but decided against it as I couldn't make head nor tail out of the bus schedule. This was the view that greeted me as I exited the train station both days (our hotel was right near the station, but the better shopping was on this side of the tracks, hee hee). Well, except that the sky was completely gray, the trees had no leaves, and all the people were wearing black. Seriously, pretty much everyone dresses in neutrals there. I saw a few colorful scarves and hats but mostly it was black and gray and brown. I had fun just kind of immersing myself in the whole Finnish experience--the stores I went to in Tampere were mostly ordinary sorts of stores, but it was neat to have foreigners all around me. I mean, it's not like I was the foreigner or anything. The first day I ate lunch at Hesburger and the second day I ate at McDonald's. The McDonald's nuggets tasted like they used to a long time ago (and I don't mean old, I think it's from before they were "all white meat" or something like that)--much better. Same with the Coke, because outside the US you can get Coke made with real sugar instead of corn syrup. I'm no foodie, but now US Coke tastes like crud to me. :(
On Wednesday we went back to Helsinki (forgot to mention that Helsinki is where our plane landed, and where we spent the first night). Didn't do too much that day, as we had spent the morning on the train getting there, but we did go to the Jumbo mall near our hotel. That mall is about 1/2 sporting goods stores, LOL. On Thursday we did the tourist deal in Helsinki--of course we saw very little of the city, but what can you do in a day when it's freezing and you're on foot? We went to the Uspenski Cathedral and then walked to the Helsinki Cathedral. They were both very beautiful. We ate lunch at Cafe Engel which is right across the Senate Square from the Helsinki Cathedral, and was very tasty. It was also by far the loudest restaurant I had been in while in Finland, and when I say "loud" I mean that people were actually talking!
It was pretty neat. I am, of course, exhausted now, and not really wanting to do any major traveling any time again soon, but I'm glad I did it, because now I know I can. *cue triumphant music*