R & R Part I: The Nostalgic Journey

The close to 26 hour travel from Florida Gulf Coast to my R & R destination in Finland was remarkably comfortable. Much thanks to my habit of paying practically everything on one airline card. Quite enjoyable indeed from the colorful, Africa-inspired sendoff in Philly to the delicious Money Monster accompanied dining onboard. Points still work.

airport entertainment UD75

my suite UD75

cheese plate UD75After actually sleeping quite a bit over the Atlantic, and everything running on time in London, I arrived in Finland surprisingly intact. For someone who gets to see family ‘back home’ only about once a year these trips are always nostalgic. Many kinds of pictures from the past suddenly surface. Me as a toddler moving into our new home with mom, dad and baby sister. A home built by our dad. A home that still stands tall, here pictured on a moonlit night the week before last.

Mikkos house at night 2 Finland Aug16 UD75Me in elementary school. And the memory of laying down on this very school yard bleeding profusely after being hit right on the nose with a baseball bat by a fellow student in the PE class. A ring of worried people bending over me when I wake up. This eight year old’s Miss Universe dreams brutally smashed.  But at least she got a few days off school while her eyes couldn’t see anything but the humongous nose.

my primary school 2 UD75Me in high school, and then as an undergraduate and graduate student in the big city of Tampere about 45 miles away from home. That was a wild time. Initially. But then we all mature and somehow life finds its intended path. I pass familiar places, but they are not the same. Like this old Orthodox Church next to my university. It used to reach for the blue skies all alone, but now has a backdrop of a brand new hotel tower. Progress.

Tampere Orthodox Church and Hotel Torni UD75When I pass my high school, I notice the Lutheran Church completed while I was a junior. Very modern architecture at the time, and in my eyes it still holds lots of appeal. I find comfort in the fact that at least a few places look like I remember them.

Kaleva Church 2 Tampere Finland UD75On the 3.5-hour journey from the capital to my childhood home, more familiar places fly by the window. Now illuminated by the late afternoon sun. And my early years come back to me with a profound sense of gratitude.

Lake view Finland Aug16 UD75And soon I was there. At the lake that belongs to my childhood more than anything. And one that still symbolizes peace and tranquility in my life.

rainbow Finland Aug16 UD75That first night I couldn’t resist going out to the backyard after the late dinner. I was marveling at the fact that dusk arrived only around 10 p.m. And the fact that my dear dad still kept a thriving garden.

lake and dads garden Finland Aug16 UD75

evening light on the lake Finland Aug16 UD75That moonlit night I felt the peace of this wonderful spot on earth. And I knew those precious, long-awaited moments with family had arrived.

moon light on the lake Finland 2 Aug16 2 UD75The toddler, teenager and adult merged into a surprisingly balanced whole and let out a long exhale into the cool night air.

66 thoughts on “R & R Part I: The Nostalgic Journey”

    1. Thank you Eddie for coming along on this journey. It was a wonderful trip back home and the fresh beauty of nature there always touches my heart strings.

  1. Great photos – keep them coming. The next time I fly, I am with you. Looks like a wonderful way to cross the Atlantic. Home brings back a flood of memories for me as well, home is always home. Enjoy your trip. Peace

    1. Thank you Clay! I have just returned home to FL and will be sharing a couple more posts about my adventures back home. I was “off grid” while there, that’s how I prefer it in that tranquil place 🙂

    1. Thanks Jackie! I now realize how beautiful a place I grew up in. Didn’t always appreciate it while growing up in the “country” – a little away from the big city. And I am so grateful for having seen my dad again – and my sister & niece.

    1. Thank you Kathy. I am very grateful to have had an opportunity to see my ‘back home’ family again, and to recharge in this tranquil environment.

    1. Thank you, Val. You put it beautifully. It is exactly how I feel when I get to go there – to feed my soul. Some more reflections to follow 🙂

    1. Finland is called “the land of thousand lakes” and I think that is a good description. In the summer time it is very beautiful and I was so grateful to be able to go there at this time of the year.

  2. I have a good friend that’s Finnish, and she’s told me about the beauty of Finland, now I see what she means by your lovely photos, Helen.
    Glad to hear that your trip back home went so well. 🙂

    1. In the summer time Finland is very beautiful, a country of thousand lakes, as it is called. It was a wonderful and quite emotional trip. Thank you Genie.

  3. So glad you had a nice visit. Your “chaise lounge” on the plane looks comfy and private ~ much better than being stuck in a middle seat between two other passengers.

    1. This was a very good visit and I was grateful to see my dad again, also enjoyed the company of my sister, niece and their poodle. That seat (on BA) was comfy, they even “made the bed” with a small mattress pad and down comforter and gave me a pyjamas when I wanted to sleep. Sometimes airline card points can provide a soft landing 🙂

  4. Hello Helen,
    Thank you for sharing some of your memories with us, along with some views of your beautiful homeland. So happy to know you’re back home safely. I’m sure your Marsh friends have been missing you ❤

    1. Thank you, dear Takami, for your kind comment. I have yet to take a walk at the salt marsh, but have already seen both Mama and Papa Osprey. They flew right past my terrace the day after I came home ❤

    1. It is very beautiful there, and I truly enjoyed being with family. The journey over was fabulous and emotional at the same time. Thank you David.

  5. I always enjoy your photographs and accompanying dialogue that brings us along with you into your world, and this post in particular!

    Also, this evening, I realized you are a generous person who gives even when the subject is of no earthly value to you.

    So you needn’t guess, I googled the name that came with the donation and saw your photo! Very cool, and again, thank you!

    I write this from Ohio, where I am visiting my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren…my first visit since they moved from Virginia last year.

    Thank you for bringing us along Tiny!


    1. Thank you Rick! Happy you enjoyed the 1st part of my journey home. Have a wonderful time with your family in Ohio, I can ‘see’ you teaching guitar solos to your grandkids 🙂

      1. Hi Tiny, I just returned home last night. My son watched my two Italian Greyhounds and the house while I was away. My daughter is expecting and due in late January, so I have another trip to Ohio coming up soon…can’t wait!

        My grandchildren are six and eight, and when they left for Ohio I gave them my Gibson Songwriter acoustic guitar so they would have the guitar they recalled playing with Grandpa. The oldest, my son Sean, is just now starting to become interested in playing, while my granddaughter Dagny loves to place it in her lap and strum it…so, I put it in an open tuning that allows her to strum a chord every time she plays. If she puts a finger across the strings it makes another chord. So fun and easy for them that way.

        Now that I’ve answered this, I need to check out to see if you’ve made your follow-up post!

        1. Exciting times for you! I learned to play basic chords when I was 10 years old, so it’s never too early to start practicing! The next ‘instalment’ of my trip is due tomorrow night 🙂

  6. What a beautiful tranquil place Tiny! What memories it brings back for you. I know how nostalgic it is to go back to childhood places, where our life was shapes and formed. Thanks my friend for sharing insights into your life and the beautiful land you grew up in.

    1. Thank you for coming along on this emotional journey, Ashley. Every rock and stream in the forest there brings back memories. The nature is so beautiful at summer time and it was three years since I was there this time of the year (for my dad’s 90th birthday). I am so grateful I could spend time with family again.

    1. Thank you Karen. I just realized that I took over 400 pictures on this trip so there are a few more coming 🙂 I flew three legs in each direction on “One World” airlines: American, British Airways (pictures) and Finnair.

  7. How wonderful to be able to go and spend time with your family in this beautiful place. I enjoyed reading your childhood memories and seeing your family’s lovely home and the gorgeous lake photos. xx

    1. It was wonderful I could go in the summer this time. I was about 4 years old when we moved into that house, and my dad being much like your hubby in terms of building stuff, it’s still in great condition. Our lake is the best ‘therapist’ on earth for me 🙂 XX

  8. Your parents’ home looks such a magical place, Helen – what a fabulous setting it is! The photos are all wonderful, as always, and I lingered awhile at those cheeses . . . 🙂

    1. That cheese plate was probably the most delicious dessert I’ve ever had on a plane 🙂 It’s funny that you called my parents’ home magical…that’s exactly how I felt and what I thought when I took that picture!

  9. I remember another trip of yours and how beautifully you documented it. What stunning photographs of a beautiful country, and what great memories! Funny… I had a friend up in New York who is also from Finland, who has just recently been posting photos of her trip home on Facebook! What a small world it is, Tiny.

    1. It is a small world indeed. For me it is always emotional to go ‘back home’ and every time I am so grateful to be able to do that. My dad is getting up in age now and it was wonderful to see him again. My childhood environments are truly beautiful and as a photographer I always try to capture that natural beauty. Thank you BJ for coming along.

  10. What a beautiful home in a gorgeous setting, Helen; no wonder you love ‘going home’…
    My goodness, your dad must have loved having you to stay, even for a little while. I feel your closeness, pride and respect for him and your homeland… Such a priceless journey for you…

    1. It was a precious journey. To still have my dad at age 93 (in 2 weeks) is wonderful and seeing him is always such a treat. Now it was summer there and the natural beauty was breathtaking. I am grateful to have done this wonderful trip. Thank you Carolyn.

    1. Happy you came along, Susan! This was a rare summer time visit and everything was still green, flowers blooming, berries ripening and the skyscapes were dramatic. Very beautiful indeed.

    1. Thank you, Carolyn. It is true that after so much happens in life, we see the past with new eyes. And to me it definitely looks more beautiful than what I remember 🙂 I hope your week has started well.

    1. Thank you for visiting! It is a peaceful place indeed, and as kids me and my sister enjoyed swimming and diving for “treasures” in the lake all summer long.

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