One of my best friends that I swam with at Hopkins moved to Finland 2 years ago after she graduated, so I went to visit her during a very Finnish celebration, Juhannus (Midsummer)! This will probably be the only trip that I will go on without doing a single touristy thing. We went camping at her friends cabin in a little town called Huittinen, about 3 hours North of Helsinki. I don't even know how to begin to describe how beautiful it was or how much fun I had.... I guess from the beginning.
I flew on AirBaltic through Riga, Latvia Thursday night. There, I accidentally spent 4.50 euros on a small bottle of water because I didn't realize they use a different currency and vending machines apparently don't have a very good exchange rate. No water fountains - one of the things I miss most about America is free water. Anyway, I got to take one of those really small air planes that you have to take a bus to out on the run way and there are only 6 steps to get into it. The propeller was actually on the outside of the wing, so it was really loud during take off, but I thought it was really cool to watch it. When I left Riga around midnight, it was already dark, but when I landed in Helsinki at 1 am, it was still light out!
We took a bus to Huittinen on Friday morning (June 25) and picked up some food at the grocery store for grilling! There were several other people at the cabin. Almost everyone could speak English, but they spoke Finnish unless they were talking directly to me.
The weather was nice, it rained a few times but not for long and the thunder storms were really cool to watch. We went swimming in the river (cold! but refreshing), then went in the sauna, rode in a speed boat, played beach volley ball, sat around the fire, and relaxed. I'm just going to post a bunch of pictures because words won't do it justice.
Daytime view of the river, with the boat we rode in. All the colors were very vivid.
Campfire we cooked over and sat around all weekend. I love camping and campfire food!
Me swimming in the River with the dock, boat, campsite in the background! It was COLD but totally worth it. Went to the sauna right after to warm up.
11:20pm: beach volley ball net and the sun beginning to set
11:30: most beautiful sunset I've ever seen. The sky was actually purple.
12:12 am: Same view of the river but at "night." It never got darker than this. Dusk skipped right over night straight to dawn. It was amazing.
The Kokko! A very traditional part of the Junannus celebration is building a huge bon fire at midnight.