July 18, 2015
July 12, 2015
July 7, 2015
6th July, 2015
Today was my parent's anniversary, so I thought I would allow my dad to write the blog post. He did also kindly request to do so, which was lovely (relieving me of my duties for a day), so here is his post:
Yesterday’s adventurous and somewhat treacherous driving experience – the Latvians are crazy drivers! – was mostly forgotten as we ventured out in the car again to Latvia’s most famous beach region – Jurmala. Once again, Harri navigated us there with iPhone screenshots he had prepared back in the apartment using wifi.
In another episode of surprise while driving, nothing could have prepared us for the tollbooths we think we passed by mistake. We saw a sign ahead of us in Latvian indicating upcoming tollbooths at a cost of 2 euros per car. We were in the far left lane, which was taking us to Jurmala, and the middle and far right lanes had to turn right. We assumed we would all have to stop and pay the toll. But too late! We saw drivers stopping at these booths as we sped by in the fast lane heading to the beaches.
Jurmala reminded me a bit of Noosa in Australia. Expensive homes, well-dressed tourists wandering in and out of shops, and lots of old trees.
But the beach was different. To begin with, the water was shallow and cold. And cafes and bars were scattered up and down the long beaches. Best of all, we spotted a car, driven by an older man who looked like a tourist, driving along the beach scattering sunbathers, walkers and joggers!
Towards the afternoon it rained. So we ducked into one of the beach cafes for a late lunch of pizza, chicken nuggets and ribs (we were starving).
On the drive back to the apartment, we ended up taking a wrong turn in the heart of the city into a lane where a policeman waved us to the side. I told him we were lost. “I know,” he replied. (He must have noticed our Finnish registration plates.) He said the Parliament was in session and that we weren’t meant to be there. We had ended up outside Parliament House! It looked as though he was about to order us out of the car, so I interrupted and said we would be on our way by taking the next left and the next right. He seemed reluctant to let us go, but I insisted it would be better for everyone. I didn’t wait for him to finish his sentence. He stepped back as I pulled away from the curb.
Later that afternoon we headed off on foot into the rain towards the city. After an hour or two our shoes were soggy. We bought some groceries for dinner and arrived back in our apartment wet and exhausted, but we were glad we did it. We had made the most of the day, in spite of the rain.
I'll now hand this blog post back to Laura.
Thanks, Dad. Well, after our lovely trip to Jurmala we all felt ready to fall asleep, and so for the first time in a few days I fell asleep straight away when I rested my head on the pillow :)
Now you are uptodate,
July 6, 2015
You know those times when you wish you could just get out of the car and transport yourself to your destination just by thinking of it? Well, if not, that is exactly what I feel like doing right now. Not that the scenery isn't lovely, or that I wouldn't want to be on this holiday, but that I would love to be at our destination instead of stuck in traffic here on the road from Parnu, Estonia to Riga, Latvia. There is only so many times you can play UNO before it starts getting boring...
So, to catch you up I will begin from 5:30 this morning: wake up call :D Mum and Dad woke up earlier to get ready themselves, the disadvantage of only having one bathroom, and woke Harri and I up when they were ready. I woke up very easily, and got ready easily, but then it was only until after that I started getting tired. It is called 'delayed wake-up reaction'. Not that efficient really, my body is weird like that.
The drive to the port was quiet at 6am. Not many people are awake early in Finland, on a Sunday especially. So we got to the harbour in only 10 minutes, which in peak hour could get to 30 minutes.
So our plan for the day was to catch the ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn with the car at 7:30, and then drive from there to Riga with a few stop-offs along the way for food. That was the plan, and we hoped to be able to get to Riga for an early night ready for tomorrow. Now we now that there are things we didn't see coming... Things like Sunday traffic, difficulty reading signs, and most importantly the fact that Nav Nav (name for our GPS) couldn't direct us through Estonia and Latvia!!
Before I get ahead of myself, it was lovely getting on the boat to Tallinn before all the regular passengers who came on foot :) We have been on the trip many times before, but just not in the car. So we all enjoyed driving on the boat in the car :D Even though I have been driven four times onto a ferry in a car before, it is always such an awesome experience driving into the mouth of the ferry!! It feels like driving into the mouth of large fish. Interesting sensation!!
We got a lovely seat next to the window and sank down into the cushiony fabric of our seats for the two hour trip to Tallinn, Estonia. To pass time we played games, and I especially loved getting 26 points from the word JOY in Scrabble. However, Harri did beat that high score by adding MER to WORLD to get a whopping 42 points!! It was a really good game, even though I came 3rd (second last). In this way, it is the experience that counts, and not who won.
This trip was starting out swell on the boat, but that was going change next; and so it was not untill we began driving off the boat that we realised our faithful 'Nav Nav' was not cooperating with us!! We had planned on allowing 'Nav Nav' to guide us to all of our destinations, and now we had to do it the old-fashioned way... AH!!
Along the way Harri and I did the traditional thing that children usually do in car trips, and kept asking 'Are we there yet?', to which Dad would promptly reply 'not quite, or almost there'. The usual childish saying gave us something to do when we were getting weary. We also played many games of UNO and I read. I had planned on more, but the trips always seem to go much quicker than I have planned for.
Next we then arrived at Parnu, the famous beach location in Estonia. Parnu is known for it's white sand beach, much like beaches in Australia and other warmer countries. It was lovely town, and walking to the beach was quite soothing really after all the time spent in the car. However, we all did felt that something was missing at the beach, and this missing piece of the puzzle, we suddenly realised, was the lack of the sound of crashing waves hitting rocks. Well, we wouldn't want to find Australian beaches too close to Finland :D In this way, now we have something to look forward to when going back to Australia!!
After leaving Parnu, and stocking our car with all the necessary equipment for snacking, we set off towards Riga.
When we crossed the border to Latvia everything suddenly changed. While the roads in Estonia were no where near roads in Finland (in that you had to watch out for potholes), at least the cars were actually moving!! In this way, straight away when we crossed the border we had to stop because of the traffic, and it continued. We were moving at the pace of a snail by the half way point!! In addition to the traffic, the way that a one lane road suddenly became two lanes without a line was very different!! That was something new, and I must say a tad dangerous :D I had read about the atrocious driving of the Latvians, but it was still a huge shock when cars came whizzing past us illegally. It was then that I remembered reading about how in Latvia you are supposed to drive as close as you possibly can to the side of the road to allow these drivers the space to over-take, to make this illegal manouveur as safe as possible. Hence, that was the reason the cars in front of us where vearing right to side of the road!! hehe.
After that experience Harri saved the day by directing us, by using apple maps, straight to our accommdation without default. It was at this point that I started to feal like I could conc out at any given moment. Subsequently, I can't remember that much from our walk to the grocers and showering. Except to say that the tea here in Latvia is VERY cheap :) I think we will have to stock up on tea before we go.
Anyway, tomorrow is mum and dad's anniversary, so I am looking forward to doing something relaxing with them.
Now you are uptodate,
July 4, 2015
The day before a holiday always holds mixed feelings. Should you be nervous? Hopefully you will remember to pack everything you will need. Or should you be excited? It is a holiday tomorrow, show some excitement!! The holiday dilemma... The conclusion for me, an inbetween-type feeling of awareness, yet unawareness.
Feelings aside, today we spent the day cleaning our apartment. When I say cleaning, we were not just doing the usual dusting and vaccuuming, but the whole kit and cabudal: Dusting, vaccuuming, mopping, cleaning out cupboards, and taking stuff to the charity shoot. I did not realise how much stuff can accumulate over a couple of years staying here in Finland. Mostly I found that I needed to find more space to put all my crafts. The answer ... a wool drawer :D Woohoo!! I can now easily find the stuff to use when my hands feel restless, and unmotivated to open a book or write.
Subsequently, I learnt today the importance of cleaning. It is because of all this cleaning that I now feel a sense of relaxation that I will be coming back after our holiday to a nice, cleaned room :D
Okay, so The holiday: I am going to be leaving tomorrow at 6am with my parents and Harri for a 5-day car trip through Estonia, Latvia and possibly Lithuania. The dates: Sunday, 5th July to Friday, 10th July. The reason: Who needs a reason to go on a holiday? Big year + four week holiday for my mum = reason enough :D We were undecided as of yesterday whether we would be making the trip, and I was glad when we all decided to go ahead with it. The itinerary: You will just have to wait and see, now won't you ;) We will too :D
Now you are uptodate and have an awesome weekend,