Summer Journal #6: Finland

My host family took their traditional trip to Finland to visit relatives soon after my arrival in June, which meant my “work-abroad” summer kicked off with a vacation. I enjoyed some pastoral peace & quiet in the tiny village of Solf, and spent several days exploring Vaasa with family friends Leo & Marjatta.The fun began with a voyage across the Bay of Bothnia on a ferry resembling a giant luxury cruiseliner – complete with a swimming pool, jacuzzi and sauna!My modesty in the sauna definitely made me stand out as an uptight foreigner…Solf is home to Stundars, a cultural center that recreates a turn-of-the-century Finnish village. I’ll never forget my first visit to Stundars, when I helped chase down a runaway calf! These drawings documenting the incident have since been donated to Stundars…

Stundars hosted a children’s party during our visit, where Robin Hood himself taught me the basics of archery:

Even beyond Stundars, the art community in Solf is diverse and friendly. A gallery visit led to a private lithography demonstration in a local artist’s home studio:When I wasn’t chasing farm animals or touring galleries, I relaxed in the warm glow of the ever-present summer sun… Like any proper summer vacation, this one featured barbecues…

…and picnics!Coming from Solf, Vaasa (population 59,670) felt like “the big city” – but not many big cities offer such serene coastlines…The artist Leo Ackley gave me a walking tour of Vaasa in the pouring rain…

And we spent some quality time in his studio, where we collaborated on this gryphon!

Last but not least on the Finland tour: Lupe the Texas Chihuahua, belonging to a Panamanian Couchsurfing host – rejected from the Vaasa Chihuahua Club for being twice the size of any Finnish Chihuahua.Coming next: Copenhagen!

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