January 26, 2015

Tallinn

After our stay in Riga we drove up the coast to Tallinn.  Tallinn is known for its Medieval Old Town.  Our hotel was right in the heart of the old town so most of theses pictures were taken just a short walk from our hotel.  

Right away we found this beautiful Christmas market and had a delicious rich supper at the Beer House, were we ate our dinner in a very large barrel. 



The following day we went walking around the old town.  I have had the privilege of seeing many old towns, and Tallinn may just be the most expansive, and culturally authentic old towns I have ever seen.  The streets and houses date back as far as the 11th century.  Everywhere we looked there was something beautiful.  Stunning views of the old town with the Gulf of Finland in the distance as the sun was beating down were around every corner.  

We spent most of the day looking at different old buildings, churches, castles, merchants houses, towers, and the wall surrounding the city.  We met a 'merchant' who's home we were taking pictures near and he asked me if I would like his old Great Dane to partake in our photo-shoot! She was so sweet, and 13 years old!  

We ate dinner at a strange seafood restaurant, just strange because it was trying way too hard to be high quality/class while at the same time trying to make you feel like you were on a Disney pirate ship... the two do not meld.  

All in all we enjoyed our two nights in Tallinn, but were ready to get back Finland.  Sam's team was playing in Helsinki the evening we got back so we were excited to get back & to see Sam!




Leaning onto the Castle Tower.







The old city wall


The sunrise on the ship on the way back to Helsinki!

January 18, 2015

Riga Round Two

I was fortunate enough to go to Riga last year with my dad and brother (click for last year's blog post on Riga, I loved it so much that I just had to go back again.  My mother and sister wanted to go on a little trip with me while visiting us in Finland so I picked Tallinn & Riga as our quick little girls get-away.  

We had spent the night in Helsinki after watching Sam's team (SaiPa) play HIFK Helsinki.  Early the next afternoon we caught a ferry to Tallinn, Estonia.  This is where my cars GPS stopped working.   Thankfully my dad has been forcing me to still use maps {old school, paper maps} in this modern day and age so I wasn't too concerned. We found the way quite easily. It took us about four hours to get from Tallinn to Riga, we checked into our hotel and went out to see the city.  We had wonderful dinner at Lido. It is a buffet style restaurant that has basically every traditional Latvian dish.  It is the same restaurant I went to last year with the boys.  After that we went to THE COOLEST medieval restaurant and had drinks and desert. 




The next day we went out and braved the freezing cold, slush, wet, wintery, rainy, snowy, gloominess.  Our first stop was the Riga Central Market which I love.  You can get anything and everything there.  My favorite purchase I made last year was honeycomb and so I stocked up again this year! {I may or may not eat it by the spoonful} 

After that we went into the old town and had a delicious & flavorful lunch.  We walked a little more around the old town and saw some of the highlighted sights then headed back to our hotel for the evening.  We were exhausted.  We contemplated just ordering room service and watching pay-per-view all night, but we decided we could do better and went into the old town & out for dinner for our second & final evening in Riga.  It was so fun to walk around Riga because even thought it was January, they still were all about Christmas.  They had multiple Christmas markets open and even a little snow bunny winter village.  We walked around for a while and then called it a night. 










The next morning I had one more thing that I wanted the girls to see before we headed off to Tallinn, the beautiful Art Nouveau.  Riga is known for having remarkable Art Nouveau (read more about it here) so I didn't want the girls to leave without getting to look at some of the more well known buildings.  





January 1, 2015

Happy {Finnish} New Year


Happy New Year everyone!  Wishing everyone a year even better than their last!  Mine is starting off pretty great, we are here in Lappeenranta with my mom and sister!  It is so nice to have family in town for the holidays.  

While talking with my mom this morning, I realized that six of my past seven New Years have been celebrated in Europe.  Thats since I was a junior in high school! Crazy.  That has taught me to expect nothing in particular from each place on New Years Eve, each country has its own traditions.  I will go through each place we have been and say the tradition/what happened that surprised me the most. 

Switzerland - Traveling with my family, we were in a little ski town, high in the Alps!  My brother and I were 17 and 18 so we wanted a more exciting evening than just 'hanging out with our parents' all night.  The whole town was alive and celebrating. We went out and found a wild party where everyone was speaking French, we made lots of friends and had a wonderful night!

Spain - We were in a smaller mountain town. Everything (restaurants/bars/shops etc.) completely closed until around one in the morning.  We were so starving (traveling with a family with my little sister) and finally our hotel found us a place we could order pizza.  So there was nowhere to go out, and nowhere to eat.  It was an eat pizza in the lobby with your family and get a good night of sleep kind of night.

Ireland - What a great city, Galway, Ireland.  It was crazy, people everywhere, everything open and just packed with people.  We were traveling with our family and we hadn't made any reservations for a hotel for the night... we did finally find a place to stay.  I guess Galway is one of the best places to celebrate the Irish New Year, it is a youthful town full of college students.  I think Ireland got the best of everyone, in a good way!  The Irish are so nice.

Sweden - Our first year in Sweden (Oskarshamn) we were informed that most places would be closed for dinner that night so we had reservations made with friends for dinner in town and it was a fun but rather low key New Years Eve.  The second year there my whole family was in town so we had a party at our place with some team-mates.  We had some Swedish glogg.  What happened was that we missed the countdown, but I was the only one that noticed.  A few minutes after midnight I just started a countdown and everyone followed my lead.  Last year in Stockholm, (you can read last years post here) I was sick so we didn't celebrate.  That didn't mean that the rest of Stockholm hesitated to set off fireworks every ten minutes for about 48 hours.  That was strange, especially in the daytime, I mean its light out!

Finland - Once again, we were lucky enough to have family here to celebrate! We had a nice dinner here at home in our apartment timed perfectly with the eight o'clock firework show in the harbor (perfect view from our window) and then got ready and went out in in town for a little while before walking back to the harbor to see the midnight firework show.  A friend of mine told me about a Finnish tradition of melting horseshoes over the stove until they turn into a liquid, then pouring that into cold water and whatever shape it forms is how your year will be.  There is no clear guide (that we could find) about the shapes and what them mean.  So mine looked like a lion, and I am deciding that that means it will be a beautiful, strong, year with the ones I love.  That is such a fun tradition! We made sure to get some extras to share back home!







My favorite part of the New Year is not the crowded gym, or the fireworks, or the eve's celebrations, but just the general beginning of a new year.  I think for many people it lifts them up and brings so much positivity into their lives that the population as a whole is just happier and it radiates through everything that they do!  

xoxo Cacilie