Sunday, 21 August 2011

What a FINN-ish!

In the midst of travelling, you're guaranteed to come across some strange sights, but a pink bicycle rickshaw pulling a giant squirrel around Olympic Stadium?

FINN-d our flickr album here!

This past Saturday was our first real day of playing tourist. Our apartment is 3 km walk to Seurasaari Island, a park that became very popular with Helsinki residents in the mid-1800s. It's now connected by a long wooden bridge as a pedestrian only park. So the boys and I hopped on the #24 bus and met Debbie, who took the opportunity to get in a nice walk. The island also houses an open air museum of numerous building brought here from all around Finland, including a big stave church, farm buildings, big boats used to bring people to church, and parish buildings.

The Dalai Lama is visiting Finland this weekend. Therefore, after walking through Seurasaari, we went home and watched his public lecture on "The Power of Compassion" that was being live webcast. It was impressive seeing his humanity on display, and his message of how true personal happiness can only be based on compassion for others was simple and powerful.

On the left is the long wooden causeway bridge to Seurasaari Island. On the right is a storage shed used to keep food way up high and out of the reach of bears!
Here's one of the very long boats used in many Finnish communities to ferry parishioners to church. I guess this makes it very obvious who is late for church by who's soaking wet from swimming!
This is how the Cuddle Bear recharges his batteries!
You might notice an improvement in the boys' handstands after a week of training and shaking off the rust from 5 weeks of lounging by the beach and eating pita gyros and fish balls! Left is at the National Cathedral, and right is at the Olympic Stadium (1952 Games).
The Helsinki City Marathon "ran" this Saturday. Started at Olympic Stadium by the statue of famed Finnish runner Paavo Nurmi, then looped by our apartment on a big lap around the western bay of Helsinki, to the city centre, then looping around again back to Olympic Stadium. Despite my never being a runner, the abstinence from cycling since the start of our Euro trip, my runs with Olaf in Norway, and seeing the marathon here has given me stupid thoughts concerning the Niagara Marathon in October 2012...
We went to Olympic Stadium to catch the finish. Great atmosphere of the stands full and cheering all the finishers. The best was when the 6th finisher did a front roll across the line - the boys loved that and want to do a front tuck when they finish their next running race!
Check out this FINNish line battle for silver in the women's race!


  1. I like that pic of Debbie and Jacob. (I like all the pics)

    I wonder why the Helsinkians need to be boated to church.

    On compassion, I often think of these words by St. Philo of Alexandria:

    "Be compassionate, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.'

  2. Well said Pilgrim. Compassion and humility are so often strived for but so rarely achieved. It is not what one does with their life - it is how one lives their life. The true measure of a man/woman is the courage to walk the road less traveled and taking the time to stop and listen to those you may pass along the way. A pilgrim never expects to be compensated or "honored" for their journey - wanting only to have the honor of bearing witnessing to life in its many guises. The destination is never the goal. We will all arrive their soon enough. It is the journey itself, how we choose to get there, and who and what we acknowledge, reject or ignore along the way.

    Thankfully, I do not need to go to church by boat. I'm afraid if I did, I would have to become an atheist until Stephen developed a cure for sea sickness:-)

  3. Jedi, your words on the journey are quite interesting to me. They cause me to recall words of George Santayana which I viewed a long time ago, and which I have ever since carried in my consciousness...

    "For to travel hopefully is a better thing than to have arrived."

    The Cheung family is involved in a big journey. It is interesting to read about it and see the pictures.

    So much of life can be sensed as journey (as you imply). It is a metaphor that they are experiencing.

    I was recently reading about young people who have a "gap year" of travel before, during or after university. Here are Jacob and Zachary getting quite a jump on that. But I suspect that there will be a great deal more travel ahead in their lives. I have a feeling that Stephen sort of considers himself a citizen of the world, and they may too. Well might we all.

  4. Funny you should mention gap year! Right now we have friends whose children are all about to enter university. Where in Europe it is expected you take a gap year, here it is highly discouraged and considered a sign of impending failure followed by years of family therapy. Which is sad. Personally, I am all for living a "Gap Life" and do everything in my power to influence my nephews to do the same:-) No matter where I have gone in the world I am always amazed and humbled by those who have take far longer and harder journeys than I and have never travelled farther than the city or town where they were born. They, I beleive, have had the best education of all.

  5. Cool handstands! Maybe if you did them during the rainstorm, your feet wouldn't have gotten wet!!

    Sounds like you guys are having a lot of fun!

    We'll be reading about what you're doing again next week.

    Scott Gemmell