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Suomi,10-24 July 2004

How many of my travel journals have started from Milan Malpensa airport? I'm indeed losing count! Yet, here I am once again, waiting for the next couple of hours to pass by and for finally sitting an a plane taking me first to Brussels and thereafter to Helsinki. Flight company (Brussels Airlines) and route are (at least so far!) the only new things about what is going to be my 9th or 10th journey to my beloved Finland! Still, I'm excited about going back and seeing everybody again! I actually also some restless feelings regarding one certain meeting…Me and Joonas "the Devil" exchanged a couple sms yesterday and he was pretty sweet… But I really don't know what to expect…I only hope we'll still get along the way we used to…But it's going to be at least 8 more hours before meeting him again, so I'd better keep quiet now! ;o)

The more I travel, the more depressing Mxp airport seems to me...But at least everything went smoothly with picking up my flight ticket (bought on-line!) and checking in! On the contrary the veggie options here suck as much as always and unfortunately the first leg of my flight is operated by Alitalia (once again all of flights are in code-share with other companies) and, after last year's bad experience with AZ, I can only hope to survive the short trip with this lame company! And as soon as I sit on the Alitalia aircraft, I realize that survival is all I can hope for: the plane is tiny (even for somebody as little as me!) and of course it will shake madly for the whole trip! Moreover, the flight attendant informs me that they don't have my veggie meal on board and, needless to say, there is almost nothing I can eat in the regular one! - Be sure I'll write Alitalia and complain about that, though!
Anyway, after a little over one hour we make it to the very empty and spooky Brussels airport, where I console myself with Belgian cheese and find out that water is more expensive than sandwiches over here! Weird…
The second part of my trip becomes a long adventure: due to some computer problems at BRU airport, the flight gets delayed by over one hour and it's nearly midnight by the time we finally land in Helsinki Vantaa! I'm annoyed & exhausted (and with a BAD headache, moreover!), but I have to admit that all these troubles and the chats with the two Finnish guys sitting next to me on the plane did help me not to get overly nervous! Once at Vantaa airport, I catch a taxi to Joonas' place: I have heard it should not be too expensive and besides, it's the only sensible thing to do considering what time it is! And 15 minutes later there I am…He is waiting for me outside the building where he lives…And I think the first look we exchanged through the taxi window was enough for me to realize we still share our old connection…So whatever fear/nervous feeling I might have had about this meeting was indeed pretty silly! And in fact we end up talking until 3.30am, sipping "my" red wine and catching up…It really feels like we only met a couple weeks before (in reality we have not seen each other in one and a half year) and it doesn't take much to remember why "it just clicked" between us that summer…But it's been a very long day and by dawn it is indeed time for us to go to sleep!

It's about 1pm by the time we get up today and, after shower & breakfast, we walk downtown in a cool but sunny Helsinki. We have no special plans for the day other than taking it easy, talking and of course getting high on caffeine! ;o) It just wouldn't be us if we didn't do that, with the only detail that we actually can't get high on caffeine anymore because we are both already too addicted to coffee! ;o) After spending a few hours in the city, we go grocery shopping and decide to head back to his place to make dinner. It's been so very long since I had any sort of "daily life" with a guy that I feel completely out of practice! And although there is nothing "romantic" between me and Joonas anymore, it does feel a little strange…yet nice. Anyway, we do manage making dinner (or actually: he does!) and good it is! :) We then go meet up with a friend of his (the still partially drunk & high ex-room-mate) and then go rent a couple of movies. After much pondering, we finally choose "Underworld" & "Analyze that". The former is pretty much what I had expected: a visually nice, very gothic film that is accurate in vampire Vs werewolf details but a bit lacking in plot. But I was curious about it and while watching it I could hardly conceal my giggles at all the "Corvid" name characters! ;o) "Analyze that" is definitely better: it's a funny comedy with Robert De Niro and I think we all enjoyed it! In my case, though, that was despite the fact that I couldn't wait for being alone with J. again… I suppose that our old connection will always exist and that we will always be a bit of a special kind of friends…

J. wakes up at 7am in order to go to work and of course I also get waken up by his alarm clock…And a couple of hours later I'm on my way to the city centre. I'm going to spend the day with Nina, Aki & little Peppi today (and man, I'm nervous & excited about that!), but first I need to go buy my train ticket to Turku, where I'm going tomorrow.
But 11 o'clock arrives and there they come…. In the seven hours we spend together I definitely enjoy being with them, but I also have to sadly realize what I had been fearing since last April, namely that my best friend's life is nothing I can relate to anymore…Of course it's no surprise: having a baby changes everything… We spend a very nice day together, going first for a snack in Kauppatori-the market square- and then visiting Linnamäki Fun Fair and finally driving around because the baby probably got too tired for us to go to Seuraasari park like we had planned to do! But I do need some time to get used to the new situation and to the fact that much of what we talk about is the baby! Peppi is a cute and nice baby that cries very little and I must admit I was really curious about meeting her (after all, I'm her evil aunt! ;o) ) but...I'm just not a child person! And no, it's not like "you never know..!" I do know that I don't want to find myself in that kind of situation, like that were the only way a person's (a woman's?) life can go!! I believe in other things, I have other dreams, I'm just not that kind of person!
Then again, it's of course always lovely to meet Nina!

After spending the whole day with my best friend's family, my evening turns out a lot different from what I had imagined, and a lot more lonely, too… J. gets stuck at work because of very long meeting and that's just sad 'cause he's one of the persons I so desperately want(ed) to spend time with while here! L It's only by 10pm he finally makes it home, exhausted, but still talkative. We agree we're definitely going to spend some more time together and that I can stay over later during the week as much as I want, unless they send him to Tallinn for work…Considering our bad luck concerning timing, I should be quite afraid of this possibility, but let's try and stay positive for once! We sit and talk for a while, but after 13 hours of work J. only wishes to go to sleep, so by 11pm it's time for both of us to go to bed. I'm going to Turku with the 9am train tomorrow, so I'd better get some rest, too.
Good night, sweet devil! ;o)

My alarm clock wakes me up around 7 this morning, in order for me to leave the house together with J. and make it to the railway station in time to catch my train to Turku/Åbo. I don't want to say goodbye to J. now - we'll definitely see each other again either later this week or next one! Yet, despite this and despite things between us having changed, I hate partying from him….
Anyway, it's time to reach a new destination now!
I get to Turku perfectly on time at 11am, but the weather here is a lot worse than in Helsinki: colder and cloudier…Mhm, not very nice, but let's hope it will get better soon! Meeting Tanya & Micke again only one week after their holiday in Italy is kind of bizarre, but definitely much fun! We spend the afternoon going cd shopping and having sushi, chatting and laughing our day away. In the evening we go see "Spiderman 2" at the cinema: it's a very entertaining film and Spiderman is always cool (besides, Kirsten Dunst rules!). After the movie, we end up staying awake until 2am watching the latest Nightwish dvd: we were actually supposed to watch only a little bit of it, so that I could decide whether I want to buy it or not, but we got carried away and watched the whole thing instead! Well, you can't resist Tuomas the Sexy Cat (and Marco, would Tanya add!), right?! ;o) Eh, eh!

14.7 2004
Today's original plan was for us to go to Ruissalo national park, but when we wake up rain is pouring down and the sky is so dark that we don't dare hoping the weather will improve any time soon…So we decide to stay in town and visit two museums instead. First is the art one, currently having an exhibition with Brothers von Wright's paintings, which are mostly dedicated to nature & Finnish wildlife (especially birds). It's pretty interesting and very Finnish, although a bit overpriced. After this artistic time, we can't resist having a really tasty viking lunch at the cool Harald Viking Restaurant, where you can have bizarre but good food served by real (ehm, almost!) Vikings in a very realistic Viking environment! After lunch, we go visit the Biology museum where our pal Leea works. I had been quite curious about meeting her for the first time after all our on-line chatting & LiveJournal commenting and she is indeed a very cool person! She also proves a fun guide at the museum and we have a very good time there, looking at all those animal models, trying to understand biology stuff in four languages and laughing like kids! :D Later on we're going to have a SlamSwapper Meeting, but right now it's time for us to go back to Tan&Micke's place and have some rest before one wild evening/night!

In between all this, two things have happened: the weather has become much sunnier and warmer (but of course!) and I have heard from J…He's going to have some family guests over the weekend and then he has to go to Tallinn for work for a few days…I must admit I am beyond being disappointed!! Somehow the bad timing is the one thing mostly characterizing our relationship and we don't seem to be able to get away from it! :( But we do have plans for meeting next week and I really hope those plans will work 'cause I'd really hate leaving Finland without seeing him at least once more! But right now there's nothing I can do about this, so I'd better try and NOT let it spoil my day!

Our Slam Meeting is planned at 5pm at "Rax" a all-you-can-eat pizza place. It's me, Tanya, Satu and Leea and we go totally crazy together: eating a lot, joking, laughing, taking crazy pictures and making slams we completely conquer the place and easily spend four hours there! Until we decide to run out and buy more papers in order to make more slams! Now, slams are an indoor hobby, but we are crazy enough to go sit by the river side and make booklets there! And despite the sky being still very bright, it's past 9 pm and air is chilly…But we are having too much fun being silly to mind about that, or about the paper flying in the wind, our hands freezing ..or Satu screaming that she needs a table to make slams! ;o) And we do manage making more, bumping into our mutual pal Sanna (whom I totally fail in recognizing.. Ops!)and taking some more weird photos! Me & Leea are getting along really well and laughing so much we almost have tears in our eyes, definitely forgetting that we had "planned" we should also whine about stuff (& guys!) when we would meet!J
After spending one hour by the windy river side, we all feel like having some tea to warm ourselves up, so we head back to Tanya's place and continue the craziness there!
It's well past midnight when Satu and Leea have to leave, but I really wish we could have spent even more time together 'cause it was just too much fun!
This will have to happen again one day!

It's Ruissalo we are heading to today, which means another early start (but who needs to sleep when the sun gets up around 4am?!) and a ½ hour boat ride to this island which is quite known both for a festival (Ruisrock) and for being a natural reservation. The weather is finally lovely and the boat ride to Ruissalo is beautiful! We spend some nice hours on the island, walking around & getting lost & becoming mosquito food ('cause none of us thought of bring a map or a mosquito repellent with us!), but still enjoying the beautiful Finnish nature and sitting on some finally sunny rocks by the sea, relaxing and looking at the waves. It's so nice and peaceful here that it really is hard to imagine 20.000 rock/metal people taking the island over for a weekend every year!
At 2 we head back to Turku (this time by bus) and after one big lunch, we meet up with Sanna for coffee. The legendary slammer & traveller is here in front of me, at last: real and very nice to talk with! We spend a few nice hours together, sitting in the sunshine and talking and it's just great to be meeting all these slam people at last!
Once back at Tanya&Micke's place, we start watching one of our very favourite movies: "Almost Famous" (dvd longer version). But half way through it we have to take a break and…go visit…the local graveyard! By night, yes! How more gothic can you get? And Turku cemetery turns out to be HUGE and very nice, although we obviously couldn't visit it all because of the lack of time (and I'm afraid we missed just the oldest part of it - too bad!). But we did walk through most of it, seeing the "regular" part as well as the Jewish, Muslim, and war ones. There is even one part dedicated to children, which is kind of sad…And a few weird & spooky things aren't missing either! After our gothic moment, we take a short drive through the city, visiting one other little graveyard + church, and finally head back home to finish watching our movie. It is always such a perfect film! And very soon I'll just be reminded of what it means "To truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band, so much that it hurts. " (Sapphire)
Once again it's late when we go to bed…I guess these bright nights are having their usual effect on me, making me needing a lot less sleep than usual!

16.7.2004 - Tuska day I
The most metal part of my holiday beings today! I'm catching the 9o'clock train back to Helsinki (a train which is full of people going exactly where I am going…) and starting my Tuska Open Air adventure!
Once back in the capital, I go straight to my hostel, leave my luggage there, put make-up on and then off I am again, ready for the festival! Well, I thought I was ready…I also thought it would be a piece of cake to find it, but, no, that's not exactly the case: why is finding something on a map a lot easier than in the real world? Anyway, after taking two wrong ways, I'm finally there, where the waiting begins. But Helsinki has turned into such a fantastic metal place that I don't really mind waiting, especially because the weather is wonderful today! (so much that I'll even get a sun tan & a burned nose during the three days spent in the festival area!). They finally let us in at 2pm and both bands I want to see today play in the first part of the afternoon.
The festival area is pretty small and there aren't many shopping possibilities, but the people are really cool & interesting: just sitting there looking at all the different outfits is amazing and I reckon that my Lacuna Coil t-shirt did get some attention, too! ;o)
The first band I want to see is Beseech from Sweden (Borås - Bäst Kusten!!): I'm standing in front row with some Swedes I obviously couldn't miss getting to know and the band rocks! They are much better live than on cd and their male singer is quite…hot! Of course, had I known then how "old" he is, I would probably have tried to have different thoughts about him…;o) Or maybe not…what's up with guys born in the early 80's now? * Blush *
I hated having to miss the last song by Beseech, but I had to leave early in order to see Sonata Arctica from a decent position…And 2nd row is nothing to complain about, right?! ;o) Sonata plays for one hour and it's great to see them live again after four years! These guys have grown so much since I saw them on their first tour!! The sound is not perfect (especially for Tony), but they put on a good gig with a bit of a special set including a couple of covers ("I want out" & "Still loving you") and their heaviest songs. And I'm already looking forward to seeing them again in Milan this autumn!
The rest of the day doesn't have too exciting bands, but I nevertheless stay until 9pm, giving In Flames their second… and last chance….I think I liked them even less than the first time I saw them live, in 2000…I therefore don't really care about seeing the whole show, so I just head back to my hostel and discover it's actually really nice and a lot more like a real hotel! The other great thing about this place is that many guests are Tuska people and it's much fun to be here all together and start chatting simply because you know we are all here for the same reason! :)

17.7.2004- Tuska day II
After a good night sleep and a big breakfast, I'm ready for another long metal day! Today I'll be joined by Tanya & Micke (and later on by Satu, as well), which is of course great! We meet at 10.30 and after a bit of cd shopping we meet up with Tanya's brother & his girlfriend for a Chinese lunch. I'm not really hungry but I also know I have to eat before the festival (the food there is.. just non edible!). Anyway, before 1pm we stand by the gates and are ready to rock! The first band we see is Machine Men: Leea had told me about them and especially about their Sebastianic guitarist (that is to say, he looks like Sebastian Back!) and I have to say she was right: these kids are young and very cute (the singer looks like somebody that could be in Rasmus!), but they do know what they are doing! And as Micke said, they sound more like Iron Maiden than Maiden themselves do these days! Shortly alter we start getting serious, though: it's Dark Tranquillity time and they are amazing! It's a bit weird to see such a band in broad day light and with the sun shining on them (and talking abut the sun…the lead singer had definitely had too much of it already!), but they are very impressive nevertheless. Despite not even knowing any of the songs they play, I'm just blown away by their metal…They had been a great surprise the first time I had seen them, but now I think I'm just falling in love with their music!
After one hour with DT, me & Tan get to see a bit of Twilightning (sounding like Europe's or Skid Row's grand kids!) and a bit of Turisas, a Finnish band that reminds me a lot of Finntroll thanks to their fur coats and battle metal, with violin and battle drums! Then we all move to the main stage again to see Soilwork. And if I did like them on cd, I'm not really sure about their live performance…Sure they are good and especially "Follow the hollow" and "As we speak" are great, but they get a bit too heavy live (but that's Tuska!) thus losing some of their melodic side…Still, it was interesting! Later on Death Angel leave me a bit cold (looking more at the mosh pit than at the band!) and after that, I sadly decide to give up Swallow the Sun in order to try and get close to the stage for Nightwish. But that proves HARD: NW has clearly become very popular since I last saw them here two years ago and I can only dream of first row this time…But 15 years of concert experience have to mean something of course, so eventually I do make it to the 2nd row! They played a short set (little over one hour), but they are as fantastic as always and the new songs sound great live! Naturally even Finnish teenagers are annoying, but I could still enjoy the gig very much despite them! It was a hard prove for my back, though, and the fact that I try to ignore my back problems doesn't make them go away…
But anyway, Nightwish close the 2nd day and it's time to say goodbye to Tanya & Micke now…After spending so much time with them, both in Italy and in Finland, it's pretty sad having to part from them, but I just know it won't take too long before we meet again!

18.7.2004 - Tuska day III
Tuska Festival has now reached its last and shortest day. I'm not planning on going there before 4pm, so I take it a little easier today, walking down town, writing my post cards, shopping a bit…and having another pizza meal (when I saw a RAX I couldn't resist it!).
Once at the Festival, the first thing I do is actually spending some more money on t-shirts - eh, eh, hadn't I complained about the poor shopping options?! ;o)
Later on, while walking towards one of the tents, I get stopped by one guy we had briefly met yesterday, by the gates. We start chatting and after a while he wonders if I mind for him to hang around with me…I honestly don't care, but I just can't help wondering why among all the cool, long-haired metal guys here I had to catch the attention of one of the most regular looking ones?? How boring! Anyway, he would have been an all right person to chat with, hadn't he become just too obvious when, saying goodbye to me later on, he started with the old chant of "such a beautiful woman, wearing an Opeth t-shirt and knowing so much on Finnish music..".. Please, try to be more original next time!
Anyway, we get to the main stage for Timo Rautiainen & Trio Niskalaukaus and they are just as good as I remembered! I wish I could understand the lyrics, though! And unfortunately I can only watch half of their show because Charon will play on another stage right after T.R. & T. N. and I definitely want to be as close to their stage as possible! Still, I seem to be late and getting in 2nd row will be a tough and hard task requiring much endurance and all my concert goer's experience! While under the tent, I suddenly hear somebody talking to me in Italian: it's one guy that recognized me from Transilvania Live in Milan! Wow - small world indeed! And btw about Transilvania: J-P is actually wearing the Kafé t-shirt! Cool! It's the first time for me seeing Charon live and they are really good and heavy! I only wish there weren't so many stupid teens in the audience (please remind me: have I always been so allergic to teenagers or is this a very recent thing developed because of one particular situation?). Anyway, J-P saw me from the stage and that's always great! J
After one hour with Charon, it's time for the very last concert: Dio. The man is OLD, so old that you wonder whether he is alive or just a walking corpse, but he can still rock, oh if he can! And the show is pure metal fun!
It's 9 pm when Tuska ends.. I'm totally exhausted (and don't even ask about my back..), but I also have the silliest smile on my face - it's been a fantastic experience and I'm so happy I finally made it here for this festival! I just can't describe the cool atmosphere that has been in the whole city for these last three days, with metal people everywhere, smiling at each other because of that feeling of belonging we all shared! Wow, I'm so in love with metal! :)

My second week here in Finland is starting….
I'm meeting Nina again today and it's so good to be just the two of us for a few hours!! :) We can finally talk about everything again and it does feel like it always has, despite all the changes in our very different lives! We go buy wooden letters & angel wings for Peppi's room and then take a long walk by the sea, have coffee at Ursula Cafè by the sea and just spend a lovely morning together! Besides, it's just so great for me to finally be able to talk about everything that had been weighting on my heart for months…
After coffee, Aki comes and picks us up and drives me back down town where I'm going to meet Maria (and her fiancé Dennis, of course…). It's nice to meet her again, but we'll just have to see how much we still share and if I'm still going to get as disappointed as last time I was here…
After catching a bus to Espoo and visit their very nice new apartment, we got to Tapiola for shopping and then head back home to make dinner. In the evening it's time to go check the place where Maria & Dennis' wedding party is going to be held this fall - eh, the kind of things friends have to be there for..! ;o) It's over 10pm by the time we get back for tea & some chats..And it's much we have to catch up on after not having been so much in touch since last time we met.. And while talking, I witness the first of many amazing sunsets I'll be watching from Maria's balcony…Long, multi-coloured breathtaking natural shows…

Another early start and another cultural morning: we head to Gallén Kallelan's museum & villa and after having some difficulties in finding it, we spend a couple of hours visiting his very interesting house and looking at his paintings, mostly ispired by the Finnish epic poem Kalevala He must have been a really modern man (concerned about nature already in the beginning of the 1900!) and peculiar, too, like most artists, I guess!
After coming back from this cultural visit, Nina & her dad come and pick me up to take me to Nummela, where I'm going to spend the rest of the day and I'm invited to one family dinner. Delicious, meal, meeting with Nina's relatives, finally seeing Nina&Aki's new place, driving around in the countryside…It's just so nice to be back here, with these people who have known me for 11 years and have always made me feel at home! :o)

Helsinki time again today! Maria & me have planned to go to the Stadion and to Linnanmäki. The Stadium tower top is our first stop: it's been many years since I have been here and I had forgotten how nice the view from the tower top was! We take pictures and point out all the building we can recognize and I just can't help noticing how green and small Helsinki is - so cute! ;o) After admiring the view for a while, we walk to Linnanmäki and start thinking of the rides we want to take. Yet, for € 4,50 each, we eventually choose only 2: the Octopus (feels like jumping back into my childhood!) and a rollercoaster - a wooden one built in the 50's, to be precise! Yeah, wasn't Santa Cruz giant coaster enough for me?! But both rides are a lot of fun and scream-worthy! ;o)
Done with our childish excitement, we walk back to the city centre, on a pretty way along the bay, and go have lunch at Stockmann Department Store. Later on it's time for me to meet yet another friend: Suvi, my old Uppsala fellow. We go to Wayne's Coffee together and spend a couple of nice hours chatting and laughing! Time flies, though, and after taking some photos together, it's time to part… But I do hope we'll be able to meet soon-ish again 'cause Suvi is always such a nice company!!
Back in Espoo, despite the late dinner hour, me & Maria have a little cooking experiment: the "legendary", Oulu-born, curry & tuna lasagne! And although both of us have doubts about what we are doing, they turn out quite well & tasty! I really like this recipe (thanks Mia Dragonlordess!) and maybe now I'll even dare making it by myself! ;o)
I was sort of looking forward to today, thinking that I'd hear from Joonas, but I now have to realize it was all in vain: J. is keeping silent and I have no clue on whether he's back from Tallinn or not….I do hope he'll get in touch soon, but I also don't want for my mood to be (too) influence by this…

Still no news from J... I'm starting to get a little frustrated by this, so I simply decide to stop waiting and just make plans to meet Nina again in the evening. I do believe there is a reason for his silence, but it annoys me nevertheless (who said "taken for granted"? Yeah…) Anyway, let's try not to think of that now! We are going to Suomenlinna today, an island 15mins by ferry from HKI, and I want to enjoy that! Once there, we walk pretty much all around the place, take pictures and…make flower crowns! Yep, that became Maria's goal when she heard I had never made any and didn't know how to make them, either. So here I am, at the age of 28, sitting in a flower field, making flower crowns and looking so very bucolic! ;o) And I must admit it proved much more fun and much easier than I had thought! :) And with a flower crown on my head, I do walk around the island and look like some sort of Summer Lady! Too bad I had to leave my crown in Suomenlinna, but I looked crazy enough for one day without going around even in the city with that thing on my head!! ;o) Back in Helsinki, we buy ice cream, do a little bit of shopping and finally head back to Espoo, where I'm meeting Nina for coffee. I hate having just one & half hour to spend with her and of course that time flies away, but obviously it's better than nothing. At least we got to talk some more and I even got to hear some interesting ideas of why I keep having the impression that guys take me for granted…I just seem too hard to catch! I had never thought of it that way and I'm not sure if there's any truth in that, but it surely made me think…
Having to part from Nina is always hard, but we learnt a long time ago that it's only "until next time". It was great to see her again and I'll miss her very much….She'll always be "my sis", despite the huge differences in our lives…

Back with Maria, back to Iso Mena mall for grocery shopping and still no news from the Devil…Pessimistic as I am, I have a very bad feeling about this, but I still hope I'll be proved wrong.. Me and Maria spend the night baking "kanel bullar" ( very Nordic cinnamon sweets), which is another step in my intensive course in practical Nordic things. It's kind of fun, but I'm a bit tired and I also know I'll hardly ever bake once back in Italy…But "bullarna" we got and anyway and they turned out all right, ,even if some extra cinnamon & sugar might have helped! After tasting our baking results, it's time to go to sleep, though, …and to turn my phone off.

Unbelievable as it seems, it's my last day her and our plan is to dedicate it to shopping. All through the morning I kind of wait for some sort of sign from J, but nothing arrives…I still think this is really weird, but that's it, I guess (the mystery will be solved only a couple days later: his business trip in Tallinn had to last longer than planned and his phone didn't work there…The bad timing curse won once again…:( )…
Anyway, shopping time starts with a pretty quick visit to Spinefarm: unfortunately this time Esa (of Amorphis!) isn't there and I can't even linger in the shop too long lest Maria goes crazy! So we walk on, towards shops we both can enjoy, and finally get stuck at Akademiska Bokhandel, where most of my shopping is going to take place, especially thanks to the super book sales they have there! And the result of this stop is 4 books for less than 11 euros! J While at Akademiska, we also take the chance to check our email…Some messages make me feel like I'm really living in a soap opera, but the most important thing is that I'm still in my beloved Finland and that I'd better enjoy my last hours in Helsinki!
Heavy with books, we go for lunch at a Japanese place for some lovely sushi and then continue our shopping tour.
And by 4.30 it's time to leave the city and get ready for the night. I do wish I could meet J. tonight, but then again avoiding one more goodbye could be a fairly good thing…
Being with Maria has been a lot easier & nicer this time than 2 years ago, certainly thanks to the fact that she's not so "sugerly/gluely" when alone with me and we have actually been alone quite a lot!! :) But of course differences are there and the old times are gone…

My last night in Finland has now arrived and by 9pm we are ready to head back to the city for a little "pub runda" (pub crawl). I haven't had any cider, yet, and that will have to change tonight! ;o) It's just me and Maria going out: it's been so long since we did something like this that I can't even recall the last time! The pubs we go to are actually nothing too special (and strangely enough there are not even good looking guys to check out! Wrong places, definitely! ;o) ) but we do get our two ciders each and have much fun anyway, chatting and doing some people watching!
I'm quite exhausted by the time we get back home, but we still find the energy for a sandwich and some more chats, before finally going to sleep at 2….

Maria wakes me up at 8 today, while on her way to drive Dennis to some bachelor's party….And up I get and the packing adventure starts! My suitcase really has few hours left to live, but eventually I manage packing down everything and even closing it! Maria drives me to the airport a little after 11 and once there, alone, melancholy hits me badly: it's been too many goodbyes the last few days! I know I'll come back here and see everybody again, but leaving Finland always hurts!
But my vacation has been a great one and I'm grateful for the amazing friends I have here! :)

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