This weekend we took our first family trip to Helsinki. I had some paperwork to get sorted with the Customs office relating to my car (which is of course managing to be entirely logical and byzantine in its complexity, however I think we are almost there) which provided an excellent excuse to pack the family up and see friends in the big city.
I had gone into the railway station in Turku a week or so ago and tried in my best Finnish to book a special place for us and the pram. When we got on the train we found that the pram went somewhere other than our seats so we abandoned it and headed to our special family compartment. This is a little section of the train with 4 adult seats arranged in a semi circle around a window, a table and a small play area. It's meant for families with small children and it was perfect for us as in the carriage where we left the buggy 3 gentlemen decided that 9am was a suitable time to start drinking beer! The train ride up was great and the little one seemed to take it all in her stride and enjoyed sitting on my knee watching the winter world speed past. The boss took the photo above and I really like it!
Once in Helsinki my appointment with customs took less than 15 minutes (when dealing with Finnish bureaucracy it pays to have the original of everything with you!) and we were off to enjoy the weekend. We caught up with some friends who have recently had twin girls who arrived a little early. It was really amazing to see how small the girls were compared to our little monster and to see how well our friends were coping with the rigours of looking after such small babies.
Afterwards we went on to another friend who very kindly fed us and housed us! For dinner he cooked Salmon. However rather unusually he cooked it in the dishwasher. While it was an interesting experiment and the sauce (piquant dill sauce) was excellent, I cannot see how the dishwasher really added something to the finished dish apart from the theatre of the cooking process which was undeniable!
On Saturday we caught up with more friends just by sitting in the Ataneum cafe. It was very busy due to the enormously popular Picasso exhibition. However we ignored the crowds and just made ourselves comfortable in the cafe. After lunch I offered to change the baby and I learnt a valuable lesson: If there is an enormous queue for the ladies toilet and access to the disabled toilet is being guarded by a group of formidable old dears carrying a baby and engaging in a little bit of polite small talk about how she is the first Finnish member of the family will charm even the hardest of old dears. Especially if a) you do it in Finnish and b) the baby smiles at all the right times which our little one did brilliantly! Unsurprisingly the ranks of old dears parted and we were ushered into the baby changing room! Afterwards all the women at the lunch table were adamant that if they had gone with the baby they would not have got through the barricade!
Finally it was time to come home and I have to say we were "cream crackered" by the time we got home and put the baby to bed. I rustled up a lazy carbonara and we trundled off to bed as soon as was acceptable even if it was ridiculously early. However we have a full day ahead of us and we're off to buy skis!