My Favorite Place

My parents and sister decided to vacation in Finland this summer and it’s causing some major envy over here. (Never mind that the idea of taking my young kids on an 11-hour plane ride sounds insane.) The birch trees, the idyllic lakes, the smell after it rains. Picking wild berries. Relaxing in the sauna. Karl Fazer chocolate and rieska bread. A summer sun that never truly sets. I miss it all.

It’s been 10 years since my last trip to the Land of a Thousand Lakes and it’s like a part of my soul was left over there. Finland is so beautiful and peaceful, clean and safe. It’s no wonder that it ranks as a top country in many categories.

I was too young to remember my first time in Finland, but some of my favorite and most vibrant memories happened during my other three trips there.

When I was five, my grandpa’s fishing net got caught with someone else’s, leaving me, my mom, and her stepsister to spend half the night cuddled up on the lake shore while my grandpa and the other fisherman untangled their nets.

When I was ten, I practiced the tradition of going from the almost 200° sauna into the 65° lake. I baked mustikkapiirakka with my great-aunts and played badminton with second cousins.

The last time I was there, I was in my early twenties. A cousin took my mom and me to the capital city, where we visited the neoclassical Helsinki Cathedral, got fake tattoos of Kalevala symbols at the flea market, and took a ferry across the Baltic Sea for a day trip to Estonia.

We got to see the giant sandcastles built every summer in Lapeenranta; that year’s theme was the Wild West.

I watched from shore as a bright blue day with cottony clouds morphed into a quick-passing summer storm, with bolt after bolt of lightning flashing on the other side of the lake and the glassy water becoming dark and choppy.

Much of our time was spent at summer cabins. I’m not exaggerating when I say the majority of Finns own summer cabins (and saunas and porch swings). My grandpa even had one on the same lake as his regular home. I went boating, read books under the mellow Northern sun, made flower crowns, ate crepes for dinner and sandwiches for breakfast, drank hard ciders, and practiced my Finnish.

One day I’ll go back. I’ll show my husband and kids the house my mom lived in as a young child and the farm where my grandma and her nine siblings grew up. I’ll introduce them to extended family and a slower-paced lifestyle. Maybe we’ll even venture further north into Lapland where we can see reindeer, the northern lights, and Santa Clause Village. One day. But for now, I’ll live vicariously through the pictures my parents and sister take, the stories they tell, and the chocolate they bring back.

Tell me, where is your favorite place? What makes it so special?

8 thoughts on “My Favorite Place

  1. Jaana Hansen

    Love this! I’m tearing up reading this even though I’m in Finland right now. The thought of leaving in less than 2 weeks makes me sad. Wish you all were here too to spend time with our awesome family in this beautiful country! Love you 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kaija Heikkila

    Just talking to your mom and reading your block, I’m in tears of joy and sadnes same time. I’m joyful that your mom, dad and sister is able to experience again that beautiful place and peace and being there with dear family and friends. As you said, Finland is the top of your list so is mine. Memories of family and the beauty of Finland my home country, how could I not treasure it in my heart forever. I’m happy being here in California where, and have a joy in my heart being with all of you my Sweethearts, my Dear Family. Beauty of nature is different and lovely, that I also enjoy. How I can be so blessed to have two countries so lovely. Jayme my Sweetheart, I so much enjoyed reading your block. Love you and your lovely family so much. Grandma Leena😘

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sartenada


    Well come visiting Finland. I live in Helsinki, Finland. I enjoy every time when I read somebody visited my country! It was a nice surprise that You visited Lappeenranta the same summer than I and saw our sand sculptures (the Wild West). I have a post about them, with many photos, but I do not give here the link, because in many times, this kind of messages go to the Spam department when included a link. I wish that You had a great time when visiting Finland.

    You made an excellent question when asking the favorite place. I have to divide Your question into two parts – summer place and winter place.

    My favorite summer place is the town of Oulu. It offers in summer beautiful nature, but in winter it offers these two awesome experiences:

    Reindeer races are open for everybody and they are free! Last winter I participated in it finally after making three posts.

    Reindeer rides for kids. Of course, they are free.

    My favorte winter town is Rovaniemi or more exactly The Arctic Circle. There it is possible to participate in reindeer rides, meet Santa and visit First Lady Eleanor Roosevelts log house. Last winter I made a post about it.

    If not thinking places, then most awesome are to cruise on some of our lakes on some old steam ships.

    Best regards from Helsinki.

    Happy and safe travels!

    Liked by 1 person

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