We made it here safe and sound last night. Went to bed at 11pm and woke up around 7am this morning. Apparently, Sam was awake a little earlier over at Steve's house, and I woke up from him tapping on the window, trying to get in over here.
The details of our trip:
We left our house on Monday at 7:15pm. We stopped once for dinner and made it to the airport about 1am. We tried to sleep in the airport, but it wasn't very successful at all. I had checked in online, earlier, and was only going to have to print our boarding passes and check our bags at the airport. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way and the passes wouldn't print so I had to check in at the desk. The problem had something to do with the fact that 2 of our kids are "S.Holm" and when they scanned the passports, Sofia's info was getting read twice and Sam's not at all. In the end, she printed up only one of Sam's boarding passes and advised us to get the other once we got to London.
I, of course, was a nervous wreck on the 3 hour Helsinki-London flight. I couldn't eat the food provided - Mattias ate mine. It was a bacon brioche. All I managed to get down was an orange juice and a glass of water. I kept thinking - should I get an Imodium or a Gravol? Which do I need more? But I was too nervous to get up and take either. Sam and Joel sat in the row in front of me, Sofia and Mattias. Mattias was really helpful with Sofia, telling her what was happening and what to look for out the window. As you know, I don't like to talk about the flying experience at all.
In London, we disembarked on the tarmac and were bussed to terminal 3. Then we had to follow the signs for connecting passengers, up and down escalators, hallways, etc. where we had to catch another bus to terminal 5. And, something happened to Mattias' feet on the flight, and his shoes didn't fit anymore (according to him) so he was just about in tears by the time we got to terminal 5 (he even fell getting off one of the moving sidewalks he was so distracted by the pain). At T5, we had to go get Sam's boarding pass printed (the one that wouldn't print when we checked in in Helsinki). Then we went through security, which is way better now compared to when we went through there last time in 2007. After a bathroom break, we ate breakfast at a restaurant which cost a small fortune in pounds! And then we just hung out until it was time to go to our gate. At the gate, we had a great view of all the planes taking off, which fascinated Sofia. And our plane was parked right in front of us.
The London-Helsinki flight went REALLY well, I wasn't nervous at all and I have no idea why. Sam and Mattias sat together and I sat with Joel and Sofia behind them. For the first time since I can remember, I was able to eat the meal served on the plane (and it was really tasty, too). I love that BA has the individual tvs, so I was able to watch a couple movies and some tv shows. But, I didn't get much sleep because every time I nodded off, I felt a tap, and heard "mamma". Sofia wanted to know things like: how long, how far, when are we there, is there going to be more food, why is the plane stopped (this was when her and Joel looked out over the clouds and couldn't perceive the speed we were jetting along at!). Joel and Sofia finally fell asleep with about 3 hours of the flight left and it was really hard to wake them up when we landed.
Things started smoothly at the airport. While were we waiting in the 'welcome to the USA, here's how we'll take your fingerprints' line, one of the officers looked at me and the kids and said, "they look tired. Follow me." and let us cut to the front of the line. The immigration officer who processed us was really nice. My stuff was easy, but the kids were traveling on their Finnish passports, so we had visa waiver forms to fill out for them. Sam had to have his fingerprints taken and a digital photo as well. The officer also gave me the cards to fill out ahead of time for when we head back so I won't have to take so much time at the border. BUT, I had grabbed the kids' snack boxes they got while they were sleeping on the plane, so I had to admit we had an apple in one of our bags . . . SO, we were ahead of the crowd by the time we got to baggage claim, but not for long. Eventually we were last, because we were waiting for the one bag that did not show up. It was still in London, we later found out. After dealing with that, we headed to leave, but WHOA, we had an apple, so we had to follow the yellow line to the left. More officers. They decide to just scan the carry-on that had the snack packs and not all our luggage. Then a couple of them opened up the boxes, removed the apple slices and we were on our way.
Steve picked us up and we loaded his rental van and headed north on I-5. We stopped to eat near Bellingham. The boys were delighted to drink root beer again! Sofia didn't like the bacon or sausage that came with her pancake. At the Canadian border we had to go in and get the kids' passports stamped and show the letter that I had permission to travel with the kids.
I think we got to Dad's by 20 past ten. We chatted for a bit and then got everyone settled in bed, and slept quite well.
It was Mattias' suitcase that was missing and we've been told that it will be here tonight or tomorrow night. Until then, he's wearing the spare clothes from the carry-on, and I just ran out to walmart to get him some new socks and underwear.
The outskirts of St. Pete
Saint Petersburg: Sankt-Peterburg, Russian pronunciation: is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. The city's other names were Petrograd (1914–1924) and Leningrad (1924–1991). Founded by Tsar Peter I of Russia on 27 May, 1703, it was the capital of the Russian Empire for more than two hundred years (1713–1728, 1732–1918). Saint Petersburg is home to more than two hundred museums, many of them hosted in historic buildings. The largest of the museums is the Hermitage Museum, featuring interiors of the former imperial residence and a vast collection of art. Celebrating the 300th anniversary of its foundation, Saint Petersburg was selected as the main motif in a recent Finnish commemorative coin, the €10 Mannerheim and Saint Petersburg commemorative coin, minted in 2003. The reverse of the coin features a view of Saint Petersburg, with the Peter and Paul Fortress and its three turrets. In the coin the words "St. Petersburg 1703-2003" can be seen.