Thursday, June 28, 2012

Travel

I am not a traveller. Oh, I do it and I'm fairly good at it and good natured about it, but if left to my own devices, I would not wander far from home. I enjoy going places, seeing new sites or old friends, I love taking pictures and having foreign experiences, but I'm not a traveller. My thoughts tend to wander toward the comforts of home, toward making a home, making it a refuge, making it the place where I want to be. That said, I do need to get away from home on occasion to stop my endless list of jobs I set for myself and truly relax. M is a traveller. Her thoughts tend toward "the next place" on her list of places she wants to see, things she wants to experience, and new foods to try. So it's always interesting when we travel. M is more easily stressed when things don't go smoothly, any change to the travel plans, or any glitch in the accommodations, and she starts worrying. I'm more of a "we'll get there when we get there" or "it will all work out in the end" type of person. So to begin my series of posts about our recent trip to Estonia and Finland, I think I should tell you about the travel end of it first.

We live just under 3 hours drive from Dulles International airport, on a good day with no traffic or weather problems. M, who is ever cognizant of such problems, plans for us to leave for the airport with extra hours built into to the schedule to account for any single mishap. So it really wasn't her fault when we hit rain, highway work, and massive traffic backups on our way to the airport. It also was out of her control if security was extra slow. M and I are both control freaks in our own ways, but thankfully over different things. So M was freaking out that we were going to miss our flight to Germany, and therefore also our connecting flight to Estonia, and then she would miss her first meeting in Estonia the next day. I was all, "it's going to be fine, we'll get there," which in itself had to be annoying for her. As it turned out, the extra couple of hours she built into our drive to the airport and getting through security in time, were completely eaten up and we made it to the gate as our flight was boarding. At which point M began worrying whether our flight would take off on time or be delayed because of another rainstorm moving in. Everything went well, we made it out in front of the storm so M could finally relax, at which point I began to freak out that the plane would crash, I'd never see my babies again, and all manner of worries that people imagine who are afraid of flying. It's a good thing we take turns with our worrying and control issues.

Okay, all that mess behind us, there's something you need to know about airlines. I don't know if they are all doing this, but United Airlines and Lufthansa began doing this during our trip. So when we originally booked our trip, we had confirmed seats together. By the night before our flight, the airline had separated us in different seats in different rows. It turns out in addition to trying to make up financial shortfalls by charging extra for luggage, they also decided to charge extra for aisle seats and window seats. If we wanted to sit together, one of us would have to pay extra, because in a row of 3 seats, there is only one middle seat and the window and aisle seats are now extra. Because the airline moved us without notifying us, by the time we found out, the only seats left for us to purchase together were an upgrade in a different part of the plane. M spent hundreds of extra dollars getting all our seats to and from together. Personally, I think this was a very sucky move for the airline to make after we had already purchased our seats. I will say, with the upgrade, we had more leg room which made a world of difference in flying for 10 hours. I will say we had pretty good flights with little turbulance with smooth take-offs and landings. So I can't fault the pilots for anything. They did an excellent job, and the food and the flight stewards were very nice. That doesn't mean I got over my fear of flying, it just means I had less to stress over.

My next post will begin with the sights of Estonia. Stay tuned.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Time Sucker

I've been hard at work prepping myself for the summer class I will begin teaching soon. I was so proud, got the slides, the syllabus, the first exam and first in-class writing done and in a folder. So prepared. Then I looked at Facebook, got sucked into George Takei's (Star Trek) Facebook page and lost an hour of my life in the time sucker vortex. Here's what I have to show for that lost hour. Happy Friday and enjoy your weekend.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Blueberries and garlic

I spent yesterday baking gingerbread. This morning I picked blueberries. Mid-moring M and I made blueberry ice cream and a berry glaze. The theme for tonight's progressive dinner is "sandwiches." We have dessert so we're making gingerbread and blueberry ice cream sandwiches. I'll let you know how they turn out. We also harvested our garlic today so our porch is full of drying garlic. Vacation posts are coming, I promise.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Who knew?

I was running errands yesterday and decided to stop in at an eclectic furniture store just to see what they had. They had a comfy overstuffed chair that I thought might work in Min's room. There were two problems, the price and the size. The doorway to the room is 29 inches and the chair is 36 x 36 inches. So I thought I was out of luck, then the owner of the store knocked 60 bucks off the price and guaranteed me he could get it through the doorway or my money back. I saw them get it through the doorway and still don't believe it. Well now I have the overstuffed comfy reading chair I wanted for the room, now all I need to find is an ottoman to put my feet up. Yeah! I will post on the vacation soon, I've just had to deal with jet lag, a sore throat, and cleaning house and baking for a progressive dinner tomorrow night. Have a great weekend!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Heading Home

We are back in Tallin, Estonia for the night. We go to the airport tomorrow at 5 a.m. to head home. I plan to give better posts on all that we saw once I get back to a regular computer.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

More on Helsinki

We walked down to the harbor to take a ferry to Suomenlinna fort and on the way I took pictures of architectural features on the buildings. As usual I have no control over the order these pictures load in, but you can tell what is from a building and what is from a 1700s Swedish fort. The Swedes had possession of Finland when the fort was built. I will tell you more about it when I get home to a regular computer.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Headed to Helsinki, Finland

While we are away . . .

We arranged to have our back yard fenced in anticipation of getting a dog. Unfortunately, the only time in the company's schedule before the end of summer is while we are out of town. So we had trees cut down, ivy dug up and other things in anticipation of the fence going in. Once the prep work for the fence began, I learned that my raspberry bushes had to be pulled up. Darn! They were within a couple of weeks from having ripe berries. They also had to cut down another tree. Our house sitter was frantically e-mailing us with questions and relaying our answers back to the fence guys. It's going to be a shadow box fence with a lattice top. Here are some pix. I can't be sure they will load in the correct order.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

On being North

It was 10:45 p.m. When I took these shots of the sun setting. It's blissful in summer, but I wouldn't want to be here in the dark of winter.

Tartu, Estonia

We went further south (about 2 hrs) in Estonia and spent yesterday and part of today in the city of Tartu. This city, its grand town square, and its university were built by one of the Russian Czars (1600s) as a way of controlling its outer provinces, which Estonia was at one point. Another interesting thing was that during the Soviet occupation of Estonia (1955-1995) the city was a "closed city" due to the presence of a huge Soviet military base. Anyone who wasn't a resident of the city had to leave each evening at 5 p.m. Can't have any foreign spies skulking around in the middle of the night.

So below are shots of the town square, its famous statue of a kissing couple, a beautifully decaying Russian Orthodox church I found on a side street, and a shot up one of the streets to show what some of the other buildings look like. Saturday we head out for Finland.