Alison Edwards & Simon Benson
The End of the Trip, in Finland
There is a danger that a short stay like this is wasted, and you spend all the time just wanting to be home again after a long time away. This was certainly not the case here - five days in Finland was a very good way to finish things off.
We flew into Helsinki. We had intended to have made some plans on what to do here, but seemed not to have had the time. The only thing we had done was rented a car. So we went to the Sixt office and picked it up.
We had ordered a basic car - Ford Focus or similar - but they said they'd given us an upgrade. And they had - to a near-new Mercedes A180! A very nice car. It came with GPS, a thing we've never used. We were very glad to use it - it was incredibly useful because Finnish street names are unpronounceable to us.
Off we went. We spent the first night at a hotel in Espoo, which is really a western suburb of Helsinki; then went to spend a night near a National Park. Seeing the first of Finland's masses of lakes and pine trees. Unfortunately it was cold, and rained most of this day; it let up late in the day and allowed us to have a walk there. ("Late in the day" is quite a long time as it is well light here till 11pm.)
After this, the weather was fine. We went on to Turku, the old capital, and Finland's second biggest city. It was a nice place to be, and we spent the last three days there, visiting places nearby; seeing a bit of the Finnish archipelago, which has more than 40,000 islands! We saw a few of them, and they looked similar to the lakes. The seawater here is also not very salty at all, so even the water is similar.
And we had a good last day driving back to Helsinki, visiting spots on the way, for our late flight to Melbourne via Hong Kong. I suppose normal life will resume, though I can't really believe it.