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The Grass Just May be Greener in Finland

Temppeliaukio Kirkko (Rock Church)

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Newbie

It’s never really clear to me on the best way to start these things. Do you say “dear diary” or Hello, it’s me Annie?” It all seems so cliche! So I’ll start this way…

It all started about 2 years ago, when our little bundle of joy Charlie, entered our lives. He came into our world with a vengeance. No, really, emergency C-section, fussy with reflux and keeping us up all night (and day.) This kid was a mover from the beginning, rolling over at two weeks old.  That said, we are 21st century parent and were not to be deterred from our globetrotting, fancy feasts, late night extravaganzas…right? So we decided, it was a great idea to take our 8-week old infant to Finland (with doctor’s blessing of course!)

This trip was really more for my husband, Gama. He was invited because of Track Attack, a product of his Startup Company, 9104 Studios, to shoot an internet commercial for a former phone manufacturer. He, with family in tow, was flown out to Helsinki to shoot the commercial. There was no way in h (backspace)…on God’s green earth, he was going to leave me home alone with a fussy newborn, so Charlie and I tagged along. Read: scared mama!

Getting ready for our first flight as a family of 3.

Getting to Helsinki, Finland

Adventures in the Airport

We headed off to the airport with quite a bit more luggage than past trips. I hadn’t figured out the packing thing yet and ended up including the kitchen sink. Furthermore, the airport was a little more daunting than I had thought. It was busy as families were starting their summer vacations and, as not so confident parents, we tentatively made our way in.

We started flying with him in our laps, which I still think is a good idea for infants; but this requires a ‘paper ticket.’ Paper tickets require you to go through the special services LONG line. Eventually we got through, checking 2 bags, 1 stroller and 1 crib, let alone the carry on diaper bag and several other items. We must have looked like Sherpas, lugging all that around the airport!  So with Charlie tied to my chest in a Baby K’tan, off we went to our gate. Thankfully airlines let families traveling with small children board first, because lord knows we needed the time. By the time we got settled and a few heated moments later, we were pulling away from the gate.

The Flight

The flight, actually, wasn’t bad. Charlie did quite well and even our seat neighbors complimented us on how well behaved our little guys was. Ha! Little did they know. We eventually made it to our amazing hotel in downtown Helsinki, called Hotel Indigo Helsinki – Boulevard. Given his age, we didn’t have a lot to do in terms of entertainment, vs. now with a toddler. To help with his ears, I’d feed him during take off and landing or let him pacify.   As I was breastfeeding, a girlfriend had recommended two things that came in so handy. 1) A breastfeeding cover (thank you baby shower!) and 2) a nursing travel pillow. Until I was done breastfeeding, these items went EVERYWHERE with me. Do I think they’re required or necessary? Absolutely not; but it made me more comfortable which then made Charlie happy.  Once we arrived, our host Juha (yoo-ha), did a great job of recommending a great place to wind-down and eat; we then enjoyed our first night in a new land.

Helsinki waterfront

Enjoying Helsinki

The trip had its ups and downs, as to be expected with a two month old; but luckily it was filled with mostly ups. Some of the highlights were walking around the waterfront, visiting the Rock Church and the Kamppi Chapel of Silence (try that with a baby!), the Uspenskin Cathedral as well as the Hakaniemi Market. We also took a walk down the Esplandi Park and popped into some great shops like aarikka and Marimekko.

One of our favorite stores was a ‘made in Finland’ store where we got Charlie a stuffed reindeer which we thoughtfully named Kimi Raikkonen after the Finnish F1 race car driver.  Note, that “Kimi” has played a great role in getting Charlie to laugh, which has no end to its pleasure for Gama and me.

Overall, our experience was fantastic and we left feeling quite proud of ourselves as first-time parents traveling with a newborn. We were still able to globe-trot and explore new places, now as three.

Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral; the largest orthodox church in Western Europe.

Travel Details

Lessons Learned:

  1. You can never have too many diapers; when traveling internationally, it’s just easier to bring them with you vs. trying to find potentially expensive diapers locally
  2. Cobblestones are tough on prams/stroller, but great for putting baby to sleep. Make sure you have several options, such as an Ergo Baby Carrier to help take the pressure of your expensive pram/stroller.
  3. Eating out isn’t so hard, but make sure you go at a not so popular time and or have an exit strategy if mandatory

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