Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Finland!

... is where I am right now, en route to the US. We're staying with a dear friend, an exceptional, amazing person called Oppi Untracht, whose apartment is like a museum -- no, it's more accurate to say it IS a museum, but a residential one. It's filled to bursting with a display art objects created over a lifetime of collecting. Even the briefest description would take at least three pages -- and that would only cover the desk I'm sitting at! He had a special interest in India and Indian art and jewellery, so there are very many familiar objects around, but unusually beautiful and original versions of them. His wife, a highly acclaimed Finnish designer and artist called Saara Hopea who died many years ago, made marvellous jewellery and glassware. Her work and her personality fill the house too, so even though I never met her, I can feel her presence here, warm and creative. A wonderful influence.

Oppi's not well, so E and I take turns spending time with him in his room.

When we're not talking to him or sitting at the computer, we're walking around the small town of Porvoo, which is on a river of the same name (I think! I never do any research when I travel, which means that practically all my descriptions are based on sights, smells, tastes and sounds rather than hard fact). By the water's edge, there is a row of red 'barns' -- actually old warehouses -- which are so quaint it's quite unbearable. I made a couple of sketches of them, but am feeling frustrated that we're going to be leaving too soon (tomorrow) for me to really bond with them. There's SO much to draw! The barns ... their reflections in the river ... the church steeple behind ... the clouds, the sky, cobblestones ...

We're here at a time of year which I had previously only read about in my geography book -- the season of the midnight sun. Last night I actually set the alarm clock on my cellphone to wake me at 2 a.m. -- I had of course just gone to sleep at 1 -- to see whether or not the sky would darken any further. And it did NOT. I tried to stay up for the dawn, but only managed a bleary eyelid-prop around 4 -- not much change outside -- but the sky was heavily overcast, so it was hard to tell. As a result of the 24 hours of daylight, we arrive at 10.30 p.m. without any sense that the day is drawing to close! Quite amazing. It feels very much like two days being fitted into the space of one ...

Moomin (the comic strip) belongs to Finland, as do Fiskars scissors and Nokia phones. I don't especially see more phones or scissors around, but cute little Moomins peek out at us from every second curio-shop and also from occasional billboards and street signs! Very sweet. I realize now that I never managed to get quite enough Moomin in my life, and may have to rectify that absence with a book ...

Not that I want to spend any money. In years gone past, I used to visit England and think, "Oh! Only ONE POUND!" -- and my mental calculation skills were too weak to make the conversion to roops. Now, of course, my calculation skills are so weak that I don't even try -- but I can feel my credit card trembling whenever I look at a price tag expressed in Euros. So I don't.

3 comments:

Jennifer said...

Thanks for sharing.
We have wanted to make a side trip to Finland on way to India but good fares were hard to find. Which airlines have you used in this trip? Thanks for sharing!

Marginalien said...

-- that's easy -- we travelled FINNAIR! They have a very convenient flight (well, convenient for us) direct from Delhi, via Helsinki to Boston. Good luck with your trip!

30in2005 said...

Ooooh finland - my dad went there a lot on work when I was quite young - and I remember he brought me back a photograph of himself outside Santa's post office which is where every letter posted by a child is sent. I still treasure that picture. Someday I hope to go back.