Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day one - takin' care of business

Having safely arrived in what was previously my home away from home and is now just my home, I was ready to settle in.  Somehow I managed to avoid luggage fees that would normally be $175 for checking three bags - the man at the desk was a little confused about some mysterious glitch that skipped the prompt for payments and simply spat out 3 claim tickets instead.  Also I managed to not have to deal with customs, as my bags were checked through Copenhagen all the way to Turku, and once I arrived there was no-one at the customs station at the airport (a smaller airport I never did see – we were the only plane there).  I was a little worried that there might have been some problem, as flying through Frankfurt I always had to pick up my bags and go through customs and then re-check my bags to my final location.  But anyway, I was happy to leave the Day of Endless Travel behind (mainly due to crankiness resulting from a lack of sleep thanks to loud children and seat-kickers) and took a taxi into town to my friend JP’s place.  He fired up the sauna which now includes both wood and electric heat, and it was quite intense – I started to overheat and stepped outside until I felt better, and took only one more sauna turn before I knew I was done.  So I took a shower instead which was really nice after a day on planes, and even got to borrow some strong terva shampoo!

Right away I thought to charge my laptop and discovered that my outlet adapter wasn’t going to work, as the charger had a 3-prong grounded plug and the adapter would only accommodate a 2-prong.  So today JP and I walked out to this place called PC 911, a sort of used computer parts store, and I picked up a charger cord to use with my AC adapter that had a Euro plug for 2 euros.  Back in business!

Also one of the first-day surprises occurred as I stopped at an Otto ATM to pull out some money.  However rather than give me money and my card back, the machine just paused and eventually said “Card retained.”  I started to panic as that was my bank account card, and that I wasn’t going to have any access to my money if that was gone!  So we took the number of the ATM and the time of the occurrence, and went to the bank today to try to sort out the card, and possibly open a new account.  But for the new account I need a stamped form from the university, so that I will pick up tomorrow.  And I should be able to pick up my card from that bank Friday afternoon, so at least I will have that back.  One step at a time!  I still wonder why after years of using that card to pull money out, it took the card – perhaps because without a chip and since it’s a foreign card there was some security flag triggered.  Regardless, at least it’s something that fixable and once I have my money in a Finnish bank, I’ll be able to trust those Otto machines again.  Luckily I have some USD in my wallet that I changed to Euros which should get me by in the meantime.

Walking around town this morning was very satisfying.  The weather’s cooler but still a little humid, but it’s comfortable – the sun was mostly out except for a few clouds, but not the all-day rain that was forecasted… the riverside is beautiful, and the markets have tons of fresh produce and just about anything else one could want.  I bought some tofu and veggies to make a simple stir-fry, as well as the black pepper cheese I’d been pining for.  We stopped and had a beer on one of the little boat-restaurants along the river, just enjoying the breeze.  It’s so much quieter and less chaotic than in the states, even in the middle of the city.  Of course, it’s also the middle of a workday…


  1. After living abroad in the UK for over three years and all the traveling we did, Finland remains are absolute favorite. We plan to return someday. I am excited for you as your adventure is just beginning (if not a little jealous :) But, with our new daughter, we are embarking on an entirely different adventure. We will certainly take Jana to Finland one day :)

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