I’m home now, and still smiling over the great time I had in Finland.Â On theÂ day I arrived in Helsinki, I had a few hours to play tourist, and the first thing I did was head down to the waterfront, toÂ admire the views.
And of course I visitedÂ the food stalls, where the scent of frying fish had me reaching straightÂ for my wallet.Â Â I’m not sure what the English name is for these savory little fish.Â All I know is, I ate a whole plateful of them!
Still a little dazed by jet lag, I wandered around for hours, encountering some lovely views:
And a pair of lively street musicians.Â (The guy on the right looks just like Daniel Craig, doesn’t he?Â AÂ shorter version of James Bond!)
The next day, it was time to go to work.Â Â although it hardly seemed like work because I was so pampered and well looked after by Tarja Kopra, who is a press and communications officerÂ for Otava Publishing Company.Â After interviews with four newspapers, I spoke at a literary evening at the Great Finnish Book Club, where I was interviewed by Ms. Emmi Jakko.Â
Below: Emmi, me, and Tarja.
That evening,Â it was off to dinner at the exquisite Savoy Restaurant, hosted by Otava.Â At dinner, IÂ met Finnish author (and sister foodie)Â Outi Pakkanen, who writes a mystery series that includesÂ recipes.Â Â I want so much to read her books, but they’re not yet published in English.Â Someday!
The next day, Tarja and I boarded a sleek train to the town of Turku, where I appeared at three different bookstores and found quite a few readers waiting for me.Â In this multilingual country, a majority of Finns speak English, so they seemed to understand me, without any translation needed.Â But I must confess that signing books wasn’t easy for me, because I had no idea how to spell some of those long Finnish names.
Then it was back by train to Helsinki, where I packed for my flight home the next day.Â Ironically, after such smooth travels within Finland,Â the trouble started as soon as I set foot on American soil, where I found multiple cancelled flights and crowded andÂ chaotic airports.
I miss Finland already.Â