It’s obvious how much thought Joona and Saara and others have put into planning our stay in Finland. On our first full day, Saara had to work for part of the day, so Joona took us on a short walking trip around Pori and to visit a natural history exhibit in the town museum. That evening Joona’s parents, Matti and Pirkko, fixed another meal for us in their home in town.
Pori is a town of about 85,000, with a university, and lumber and manufacturing as major industries. Established in the 1550s, it has burned down and been rebuilt nine times until someone got the great idea to install wide esplanades as firebreaks.
Next week, it will host its annual Pori Jazz Festival, and organizers were setting up tents and platforms in the streets while we were exploring in the drizzly weather. I don’t know a lot of the artists on the bill, but Chaka Kahn and Grace Jones were two I recognized.
Speaking of weather, I tried to prepare better for this trip than we did our last, packing long pants and rain gear, and I found a lined rain coat on deep discount in Boise that I stewed over for about 20 minutes before buying. Would it be worth the effort to pack something that seemed so heavy? It’s hard to pack for a Finnish summer trip, with temperatures in the mid 60s to low 70s and frequent rain, when the current 100+ degree, sunny weather in Boise tempted me to sneak in a sun dress or two and a pair of shorts, like I was going to bring some of that stuff with me.
So far, nope.
Fortunately for our day yesterday, the weather was fantastic – sunny and a little brisk. We visited Huikee Adventure Park, and navigated ropes courses and rode zip lines through the Finnish forest. I’d never been on a ropes course before, and expected to be a little more skittish about the heights, and the fact that the platforms in the trees would sway when the wind blew.
Turns out I didn’t feel nervous at all, although I was surprised by how much upper body strength and balance the course took. It helped if I imagined I was a contestant on American Ninja.
After the ropes course, we drove to Saara and Joona’s favorite spot to hike. We took in a view of the sea and sipped coffee from juniper mugs Joona had carved and engraved for us. The juniper gave the coffee a wonderful, woodsy smell. Saara made a rhubarb pie to have with our coffee.
After our walk, we drove a few kilometers to see Pori’s famed Yyteri Beach on the Baltic Sea. At 6 km long, it’s one of Scandinavia’s most significant sandy stretches. Later in the summer, when the temperatures climb a bit, I imagine the space will become more crowded. Today, we had the beach nearly to ourselves.
Later, after dinner, it was wonderful to sit in the sauna again until we roasted, then jump in the lake, and repeat. Saara, who had to be up early the next day, decided not to join us. She wished us well as she said good night.
“How do you say that phrase in English? Where you throw the water on the rocks and steam comes up?” She asked.
Um. I don’t think we have a phrase like that in the English language. Where I come from, we barely know what a proper sauna looks like.
“Well, I wish you a good one, anyway.” She said.