Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Battered Mars bars and other delights of travelling

Having wept a little weep and packed my bags I staggered out of Swansea and found myself in Bromsgrove for a few days before flying out from nearby Birmingham. When I first heard the west midland accent on the train I was struck with a strong sensation of having left home and arrived in a foreign country! In Bromsgrove I was introduced to battered Mars bars (very sweet and gooey) and lovely locals who all vied to tell me what a horrible place their town was. What do you say to that? I haven't either lived there or met these people before so insulting someone's hometown - whether or not they are doing it themselves - can backfire on you. And in all honesty, as regards judging places purely on first impressions I have seen worse...

Birmingham International Airport is a lot less hectic than Heathrow and the police I saw were not carrying huge weapons either. I was asked to take off my shoes and they went through that machine along with my jumper and bag, but other than that getting through security was a breeze. I only had to wait until the boarding queue before hearing some Finnish too. It came in the form of a teenage girl who looked like she was from Sri Lanka and spoke perfect Finnish and broken English.

This is when all the unexpected things started to happen... Our plane got redirected to Billund - the opposite side of Denmark - due to a thunderstorm in Copenhagen and faulty weather radar/monitor/or some crucial equipment. It was a full three hour bus journey to the capital which meant I missed my connecting flight. I spent the bus journey sleeping, reading Catch-22, and counting windmills everytime I lifted my head to have a look outside.

At the airport I was booked into the next outbound flight to Turku, but 20 minutes before I was going to board it got cancelled. After much queuing and waiting (again) I was told I'd be staying the night in a nearby hotel and leave Copenhagen 2pm the next day. By that time I was quite looking forward to a meal and a bed so I wasn't too upset. And by this time a sort of comradeship had been struck up between other passangers in the same situation... I made friends with a German guy who was on his way to Turku for a term to study nordic languages at Åbo Akademi (the University my mother is doing her PhD at) and he was to live in Varissuo (which is where my family lived up until a few weeks ago). Monday morning the two of us went exploring in Copenhagen and saw impressive buildings, the Tivoli from the outside, and lots and lots of bikes. The cycle paths are amazing! And they were everywhere... We also managed to find a statue of Hans Christian Andersson with lots of tourists having their picture taken with him. I think it's brilliant that the Danish have a storyteller as their national hero!

As interesting as all that may have been I'm pleased to be back home. I feel like I'm on holiday (with the requisite lounging around and reading loads:)and I'll be splitting my time here between the flat in the centre of town and our house in the islands. Korpoo has a winter population of 800 people and a summer population of 10000 people, but as the schools have started back I'm hoping it won't be too busy... An open mind is the best travelling companion (I read somewhere). It definately helps when unexpected things turn up.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Yep. Suomessa ollaan...

Ohikulkijoilta tuli yhdentoista aikaan aamupäivällä ilmoitus joessa kelluvasta vedestä. Iltalehti 4.8.2006

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Only two weeks left

I have made the very surprising discovery that I'll be leaving Swansea in two weeks time. Of course I knew it was coming at some point, but I hadn't realised I was going quite this soon. I can't even begin to catalogue or even contain most of the feelings running through me. I've made my home here over the last four years and this is a very dear place to me and the thought of leaving is actually quite upsetting. Moreso than I thought it might be. However it's also raging against my huge delight in being on the move again. A curse/blessing of having grown up in several places is the very strong feeling that fours years in one place is really a lifetime...

So, I'm packing, running errands, and working full-time at the moment. Is it even realistic to think I'll be ready? Current thinking is "no", but stranger things have happened before... (Including knowing full well that I'll be homeless and jobless come November!!:) Very selfishly, my biggest concern this very minute is will they lift the "no hand luggage on the plane" rule. For years stuffing heavy items in my hand luggage has been my method of packing to get everything along with me. If that is still in place on the 27th of August I'm screwed.

Packing problems aside, I'm really excited about my two weeks in Finland. This is the first time in two years that I'll be in Finland for the summer and won't have to suffer the cold and dark conditions of Finland in December. Can't wait!