Monday, August 16, 2010

Samirai in "The Land of Fairies" Part 2.

The next two days Outi and I went for a walk in a forest where I got bitten by mosquitos all over my face. I soon forgot about the rash after being surrounded by trees, lakes, birds and butterflies. I tried to take pictures of them but it was impossible for me to take good ones!

Back to Helsinki's city center by bicycle where Outi showed me the building where her office is located (check the picture above, it's amazing!), then we went to meet Maria at a very cosy coffee house where I had my first (and yummiest!) Korvapustii, a Finnish cinnamon roll. The coffee house was located on top of a small hill with a nice view on a lake. Outi and Maria told me to watch out for my food from the seagulls cause those villains can attack my food anytime! Seagulls, beware of the Ghoul! :)

Another day comes when Outi introduced me to one of her childhood friends Ellina, a very sweet mother to be (the yummi mumi!). We took a ferry to Suomenlinna (Castle of Finland) an inhabited sea fortress built on six islands by Sweden in 1748, when Finland was still a part of the Swedish kingdom. It was obviously a nice tourist destination in Helsinki as it was crowded. I couldn't resist my hunger, so I had a pear ice cream which I found very creamy and tasty. Finland this summer had one of the hottest seasons ever recorded, and it was very common to see the high demand on ice cream!

The sun is still beautifully shining as always during summertime in Helsinki. Outi had planned to take me on a boat trip on the Baltic sea that passes through Helsinki with her friends Miki and Eetu. Outi and Eetu amazingly practiced waterskiing, and I felt like I really wanted to try it but unfortunately I couldn't because of my herniated disk. Miki, the boat owner, couldn't do that also cause he had injured his arm a few days back.

After waterskiing we kept passing some little green islands where we wanted to choose a good barbecue spot. I realized that every single tiny island has a BBQ spot with all the equipment! Eetu cut the wood to light up the fire while Miki was preparing the food. Outi and I just sat down contemplating the hot air balloons, the fire and the sea... The food was great, then Eetu played his guitar while singing a Finnish song for us. On our way back, Miki gave me a fishing cane then slowed down his boat a little so I could find some fish but of course I couldn't find any!

The next day Outi and I went to buy some souvenirs, and that's where I met Muumi (a Finnish cartoon character) my favorite cartoon character ever! I got two can openers for my family which are made out of rain deer horns (no, they don't kill the animal, it's very safe: they just cut them off and they grow back!). After that we went for coffee at the Blue House on a lake, and of course once again I had Korvapustii! Later we went shopping, biking, eating, drinking then of course ice cream on a nice marina where the seagulls cry and the children play.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Samirai in "The Land of Fairies" Part 1.

I proved to myself and to all the people who didn't believe in me that I could finally graduate from university. When I came back from Qatar, I promised myself to go on vacation once this mission is accomplished (aka university). Since I always keep my promises that's what I did. I booked a ticket to Helsinki and went to visit my very dear Finnish friend Outi whom I will thank for the rest of my life. :)

On the airplane from Beirut to Prague, I met a Swedish-Lebanese lady who was in her sixties and planing to postpone her retirement because she loves her job. She was absolutely adorable, and we happened to have the same amount of hours to wait in Prague at the airport before reaching our destinations. She was telling me how her husband decided to go to Stockholm during the Lebanese civil war thirty five years ago. During that time, he was the president of the municipality of a village in the South. The Lebanese President back then helped him to start a better life in Sweden. Suad, is her name, told me how happy she was after moving to Scandinavia, and how shocked she feels every time she decides to visit Lebanon. We spent six hours at Prague airport and they went so fast cause I really enjoyed her company.

Another Lebanese-Norwegian lady called Sabah waited with us, and she also shared her story. She is divorced, living with her two young boys in Oslo while suffering the pain that her husband gives her all the time since their divorce. I remember her telling me: "I was shocked when I realised after fifteen years of marriage that my partner became a completely different person. He wasn't the one I chose to marry anymore...". She said that she fears loneliness but at the same time she loves Norway and would never come back to live in Lebanon.

I arrived to Helsinki after a long trip, very pale (I have the fear of flying so I HATE airplanes!) I met Outi's friend called Maria who was very kind for taking me to Outi's place as she was heading back from Canada the day after. I crashed in bed and slept like a baby all day (cause night doesn't exist during summer in Finland!). The next day I met Susu, Outi's flatmate who is really nice too (in Finland you only find nice people :) and when Outi was back we went to the Muse concert which was amazing!

Riding the bicycle with Outi back home again during the day (11pm) through an infinite amount of trees, oxygen and the fresh scent of soil. At that moment I felt happy as never before and that's when I understood why some people call it "The Land of Fairies".