Today is my last day here in Helsinki. Hard to believe. I knew the time would go quickly, but this past month has really been a blink.
Top 10 things I'll miss about this place, in no particular order:
2. Blueberry ice cream, cardamom buns and an ungodly variety of licorice.
3. Saunas. Love them. Best after swimming and followed by a cold shower. My favorite was Kotiharjun Sauna—an old wood sauna, tucked into a removed residential area. Very different from the more typical electric saunas ... this is a huge room with concrete floors and drippy, smoky walls. I was the only female saunaist that day, so I had the whole cavern to myself.
4. Finnish fashion and design. Took me awhile to get it, but now I'm in love. Will take some time to re-transition back into Seattle "style" again. You mean, I can't wear my harem pants here?
5. Movies at the tennispalatsi, preceded by a shared pingviini (which, up until this very second, I thought meant "sundae," since that's what they're called on the ice cream menu ... looks like it actually means "penguin," which is the mascot for the ice cream company. Ha!). Best movie theater ever. I'm going to be so bummed when I can't reserve my own seat in the U.S. theaters.
6. Umlauts and words with far too many vowels in them.
7. Yrjonkatu Uimahalli (swim hall). Went here my first week in Helsinki, and it truly was a life-changing experience. Felt like I stepped back into Roman times. The swimming area, lockers and showers are together in one beautifully tiled room. Men and women use the hall on different days, as bathing suits are optional (seems a 50/50 ratio of nudies to suited folks), so it feels much more like group bathing than exercising. I never got my nerve up to swim au naturel, and the pool closed for the summer before I had my chance. Still—fantastic.
8. Tuesdays, when our cleaning people came (cleaning people!), and I laptopped from my favorite cafe for a few hours.
9. My Finnish buddy Heini, who spent two entire days showing me the city with her adorable son, Leo. Thanks for taking care of a lonely traveler, Heini.
10. Midnight sun
Top 10 things I'm looking forward to back at home:
1. Rogue. Duh.
2. Talking with friends and family as nature intended—on a cell phone. Or in person even. Not that Skype isn't fun, but video chats are embarrassing when I'm having a "no make-up" week.
3. Paying less than $6 for a mocha, $9 for a beer or $70 for Indian food-for-two.
4. Our bed. And our pillows. God, I miss those pillows.
5. Good food. The food here isn't bad certainly, but there's so much good food in Seattle. A vegetable that doesn't look like it was beaten with a hammer or almost kill us would be swell too.
6. Not listening to Mötley Crüe or Metallica in the grocery store. Bring me Johnny Hates Jazz and Lionel Richie. And I'm ready to let the professionals bag my groceries for me.
7. Being around people who don't speak 5 different languages (including mine, better than I do) fluently.
8. Our clothes dryer.
9. Spending time during the week with Jason. No more 50+-hour work weeks, please. Although it's been wonderful sharing this whole experience with him. We have an awful lot of fun together.
10. Seattle summer—Bumbershoot, weekends at the dog park, Ballard market, out-of-town guests, running around Lake Union with my posse, beer on the front porch ... it will certainly be good to be home.