So, we went away for awhile . . . we went back to my/our hometown in Canada for Christmas, and I was super busy before we left and spent this last week settling back into routines; getting over jet-lag, so-much-so that I had no time for blogging (writing or reading).
So, here’s the beginning of our time away:
We left our house on December 18th, and drove the approximately 6 hours down to Helsinki. We decided to stay at a hotel that was located right at the airport, just to make everything a bit easier. Unfortunately, the hotel had no rooms to accommodate a family of 6, so we had to take 2 rooms instead. Sofia and Joel stayed with me while the older 2 boys stayed with Stefan. After eating a late light meal at the airport, we wet to our rooms to go to bed early enough so we wouldn’t be too tired when the alarmclock rang . . . I left strict instructions with the big boys to avoid rummaging through the packed suitcases and to put anything back if they needed to take it out . . .
At 10 to 6, we met in the hallway and headed to the check-in counters . . . One thing we noticed, Helsinki airport is definitely WAY busier in the early hours during the winter than during the summer! After being in the check-in line for about 15 minutes, I asked Mattias where his laptop was . . . . the hotel room! He and Stefan had to run back for it, which ended up putting us about 20 minutes later than planned.
After check-in, we had to head through the long line at security and then again at passport control, and almost race to our gate which we had been warned was about as far away as a gate can get. Within 5 minutes of reaching the gate, it was time to board (I had just enough time to pop one of my anti-anxiety-pre-flight-pills). The flight from Helsinki to London was uneventful. We had a 7½ hour layover in London . . . blech . . . we used the restrooms, shopped, ate, watched tv, shopped some more, sat, used the restrooms again, drank coffee and shopped yet some more.
I definitely had time to take my anti-anxiety-pre-flight-pill, which was a good thing because while we were waiting in the plane for the trip to start, the electrical system shut down and re-started twice (I just told myself that the lights and tvs were on a different system than that which powers the plane to fly) and then we had to wait for a passenger's luggage to be located and removed from the hold because he never showed up!
We arrived in Vancouver about 7pm . . . my brother and our best friends picked us up and took us to my dad’s house. After visiting for a little while, we were able to go to bed at a decent time and sleep through most of the night (I think we woke about 5am?).
First order of business was to decorate the tree that my brother got a week earlier.
While there was a busy few days of shopping for food, Christmas presents and trying to get accustomed to the time zone, we had some low-key time to play games,
play with Moffa’s dog,
and then it was Sam’s birthday. We went out for lunch with our best friends (well, 2/3 of them):
and then had dinner at Moffa’s house, followed by a DQ ice cream cake:
Well, that’s the beginning anyway . . . more details to come as I have time to get them down on paper.
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.