Finland, Fur and Flu-like Symptoms

I had all the best intentions to blog about my Finland trip shortly after getting home. Unfortunately, jet lag, procrastination, and sickness took over and it didn’t happen. I’ve just been a hot mess this past week.
But, let’s rewind.
A week ago at this time, Mom and I were taking off on a red-eye to London. After some so-so airplane food, a cup of hot tea, and a lame movie, we both slept most of the way. We arrived in London excited to start the second leg of our journey and get to Helsinki. It was mid-day at Heathrow and jam packed. I ate a bag of Cadbury Buttons (my favorite chocolate when I was a kid, just edging out the Cadbury Flake) and bought a little travel journal to write in for the week. Thankfully our layover wasn’t long and, before we knew it, we were on our Finnair flight into Helsinki.
We got into Helsinki at about 9:00 pm Saturday night. The airport was quiet and homey feeling it was like we were walking into some elderly relative’s home since the airport floor is covered in wood parquet tiles. Getting through immigration only took a moment and, before we knew it, we were on a shuttle that would take us directly to the Central Railway Station that is right across the street from our hotel. After a few confusing moments settling into the hotel, like trying to figure out how to turn on the lights (you had to put a key card in a slot for any of the switches to work) and staring at the European shower and wondering how on Earth that was going to work, we finally were out cold after the long journey.
On Sunday, our trip officially began! We decided that for the whole week we were just going to walk the whole city. We had tons of maps printed with suggested walking tours to cover all the major areas and districts. The first couple of days were a little slower going, trying to get a feel for the area, learn the directions and getting used to everything being written twice (once in Finnish, once in Swedish, never in English). By the end of the week, I was a pro at navigating the streets and it gave me a real sense of accomplishment, since I am typically very directionally challenged!
Half way through our trip on Wednesday, we decided to venture out of Helsinki and take a two-hour train ride to the original capital city, Turku. Riding the train and watching the Finnish country-side whiz by was awesome! We arrived in Turku around noon and started hoofing it to Turku Castle, the one thing I was most excited to see the whole week. I had a bit of a mini-freak out when I realized it was a few kilometers from the train station to the castle and the map showed us walking past a prison. It made it look like we’d be walking in the middle of no where, past some large penitentiary. Mom, who really wanted to walk it, appeased me by looking at a map at a bus stop, but we couldn’t read it and I only got more anxious, so we decided to just continue walking. Turns out, we never saw the prison nor did we ever leave city streets, so it was fine.
Perhaps one of the more memorable moments on the trip was when we hit the seaside market. It’s this cute market right on the water, full of vendors selling everything from fruit to fur. Fur!!! I REALLY wanted to get something fur and when we stumbled on a leather and fur stand, I was hopping excited! While my mom picked out some moose leather gloves for my dad, I eyed fur ear muffs and the “GOTTA HAVE IT!” bug took over and I knew I wasn’t leaving that stand without a pair for myself. Unfortunately for me, there was no mirror, so I had to rely on Mom for advice on how they looked. She assured me they were super cute, so it was a done deal and I was the proud new owner of a pair of Finnish Fox fur ear muffs. Later that day when we got back to the hotel, I tried on my new fur. I immediately felt hot and a bit sick and wondered WHY ON EARTH did I buy these ridiculous ear muffs? Mom saw my face and burst out laughing, saying she knew they looked a tad ridiculous, but that I was so happy and so excited about them, she just couldn’t tell me no. After a bit of brain storming, I found the earmuffs actually make a great neck warmer, so that’s how I’ll be sporting them this winter :).
After all of that, I couldn’t not show the fur . . .

Overall it was just an amazing experience – I especially enjoyed not having an itinerary or any particular place to be. Helsinki is bursting with amazing architecture, warm and friendly people and lots of shopping! It was incredibly special spending that time with my mom – walking, talking, going out to the pub, and getting to know each other in new lights.
The journey home was a bit wild, I’ll spare the details, but by the time it was all said and done, I got back home pushing 9:00 PM last Saturday. I, accidentally, didn’t sleep at all on the way home. It was a long journey, from the time we got up to start leaving the hotel, from the time I walked in my apartment, it was 24 hours. The long haul home from London on the way back, it was light the whole way, so the crew never “put the plane to sleep” and it was bustling the whole time, so I just never thought to rest. It all caught up with me and by Sunday night I felt like I’d been hit by a semi-truck. By Tuesday, some germ I picked up along the way (probably at Heathrow when a lady sneezed right in front of my face without covering her face) I was in the throes of some kind of gunk.
Unable to take much sick time from work after all my time off, I went to the doctor hoping for a quick fix. She told me I had a sinus and ear infection and sent me packing with an RX for antibiotics, nasal spray and a recommendation to pick up some Mucinex D and a sinus rinse kit. Wednesday and Thursday were tough and I had to pack it in early from work (to the relief of my cube neighbors who were bathing in anti-bacterial gel all week and cringing every time I spoke). Body aches, low grade fever, and never-ending congestion and it felt like a mild version of influenza (though I know it wasn’t, just an unfortunate infection). Thankfully, this morning I started to turn the corner and while I am still really congested and sound disgusting, I can actually function and not have the strong urge to curl up in the fetal position and give up on life.
And that brings to me back to the present!
Now, I gotta go . . . I put my fur on the desk and Toby just found it. He’s freaking out and about to drag it off . . . as cute as it is, he doesn’t need a 60 euro cat toy.


  1. I will say again the ear warmer is so cute on you. I’m pleased you bought it as a warm memory. 🙂

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