Today we are in Helsinki. Anna and I got here all on our own yesterday from Stockholm. We are staying in a beautiful hotel - thank goodness that this is the business reimburseable part of the trip. However, nice hotel means that everything is crazy expensive. But woo - I found a grocery store a couple of blocks away so I've been stocking up our room that way. The same beer that is 10 euro each in the mini bar is 12 euro an 8 pack at the store.
So we're about half way through our trip and part of our packing light thing was that I didn't bring enough clothes, underwear, etc for the whole trip. I knew at some point we'd have to do laundry and I decided to tackle that today. Of course, when I asked at hotel reception, they politely suggested that I use the hotel laundry. But I said no, I had a lot to do so they recommended a place I could walk to. It was a little tough getting there ... I had Anna in the carrier and was carrying a really heavy bag of laundry. It started to rain so I had to hold the map, the umbrella and my iPhone - the map function was very helpful to show me which direction I was heading. I took a very circuitous route to the laundromat but eventually found it. It was 17 euro to do 2 loads of laundry which is great because at the hotel it's 15 euro for one shirt.
After mastering the laundry and grocery thing, I was feeling like a city champ! Anna and I played a bit in a park before going to have a coffee/hot cocoa in an incredibly beautiful cafe. SO MUCH WINNING. Now we're back in the room and Anna is playing with her iPad. This trip has been immeasurably easier because of the iPad and iPhone. Entertainment for Anna, map for me, the technology is really great. I feel like Europe with a toddler is all about iPad, bath tubs and junk food. Oh my lord, if Anna isn't surviving on fries and candy. I do sometimes get her to eat healthy things but man, sometimes fries are a savior. We're doing a bit better here because of my easy access to the grocery store. Like in Stockholm, the grocery store is hidden in the basement of a department store. I had to ask someone to be able to find it but am so happy that I did.
Everyone here has been nice and helpful. Helsinki is a beautiful city and we're in a great part of it with lots of beautiful shops. I even walked by a Merimekko shop - such gorgeous things. I wish I could browse through shops but a toddler is similar to a bull in a china shop in ANY shop so I just look while walking past. I thought I'd see more people with babies in carriers as I think the Bjorn was invented over here - but the whole trip I've only seen one. Everyone seems to have a Bugaboo but most people pushing strollers have small babies. I can tell that my Ergo is kind of a site to see for people. When we were in Amsterdam, a man straight busted out laughing when I put her on my back in the carrier. And most times when I'm putting her in it, people are watching with amusement. Maybe it's because she's so large, they feel she should be walking. But with the distances I've been covering most days it would take FOREVER if she were walking. Plus, lots of times she naps in the carrier so it's doubly helpful. And boy, it's a workout. I'm pretty much sore all the time. I'm glad because it's helping me work off all the beer.
(Speaking of beer, I forgot to mention on the blog that I found out I am allergic to wine. Holy crap it sucks. It's the sulfites. But since I've switched to beer exclusively everything has been so much better. Hooray beer! I love you beer!)
So what else? Um, it gets dark pretty late here which is fun. We usually eat dinner around 8 or so and it's still light outside. I have been enjoying our schedule which is staying up late and sleeping in until 10 or 11. Well, except for Uri who's been going to work early. Boo. But tomorrow is his last day of work so that's great news. Anna has really been doing great. She takes the plane trips in stride and has been doing fine in all the restaurants. I prepared well and have toys for her as well as the iPhone with her movies on it but a lot of the credit goes to her. Although we use the Ergo a lot, she does walk on her own albeit slowly. But we're not really in a hurry most days so her pace is fine. We're not doing any traditional sight seeing - no churches, museums, points of interest. We just go out and find what we happen to find and do what chores we need to. Luckily I'm not a huge museum fan anyway.
I want to end this post with a note that I know we're extremely fortunate to get to do this. I am grateful. I do feel this is a bit of a reward for putting up with Uri's constant travel, which has always been a bummer but was even more difficult in Anna's first two years of life when I was working. I am so grateful I could take a break from working and spend this time with Anna and also with Uri. I'm not sure if I'll eventually go back to work but I'm so glad I stopped for a while and I'm so glad I pushed myself into traveling more. Now that we've gotten all the way over here on flights that were not optimal, I know we can do anything. Boo-yah.