Brian Cheung
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Northbound

Thoughts, photos and anecdotes from my travels through Norway, Scotland and Finland.

Silly Season

Right after publishing the second-to-last post, I hopped on the bus to go to Helsinki once again. I beat mum and dad's plane from Oslo by about half an hour, which gave me enough time to check into the Airbnb and buy something to make dinner with. 

It was great to see them of course, though this was be a shorter stop off, unlike the week we had in Iceland where I briefly became a full blown tour guide. It turned out that most of their luggage was stuff for me - spare art supplies, a random assortment of food collated by Mish that she thought I'd miss, and a smattering of other Christmas presents from Melbourne and Oslo. In return I gave mum some clothes that I didn't need any more. Pretty poor trade off I know. 

We had all of the following day to hang out, and despite the cold I tried to fit in most of Helsinki into a day and a half. We walked through the design district (next time I absolutely need to come loaded with cash and an empty apartment to furnish), the Market Square next to the harbour, the old Market Hall, the Orthodox Uspenski Cathedral, and a brief lap around the Ateneum (part of the Finnish National Gallery). We had travelled through Helsinki as a family about seven years ago so we did end up retracing some of our old footsteps, but it was still good to just hang out with parents I hadn't seen in months and months. 

Dinner was at the lovely harbour-side Shelter. I think the food could be loosely described as new Nordic, though not nearly as pretentious, expensive and precious as say a Faviken or Noma. We all chose to have a surprise menu thrown at us, and proceeded to eat through several courses of really delicious comfortable food. 

The next day I took us to the heritage-listed sea fortress Suomenlinna, which lies about 15 minutes from the harbour via ferry. It's a picturesque location, though a lot of the facilities were closed for winter and we felt the cold a bit more being stuck out on the island. Coming back we had a last lunch together before I said farewell once again and set off for Hanko. Mum and Dad left for the airport not long after me. 

Hanko sits at the southernmost end of continental Finland, about equal distance between Turku and Helsinki. The trip was short, and Outi met me at the station to walk over to her parents' beautiful summer home. There we met up with Outi's partner Miika, their friends Anne and Sakke and their brood of four young kids. It was a pretty subdued evening. We ate fish soup and drank together before taking it in turns to jump into the tiny 2 man sauna next to the bathroom. Close to midnight we stumbled up to a nearby hill to let off some fireworks provided by Sakke. I slept like a baby that night. 

Yesterday was super relaxed as well. We walked out to the nearby beaches which I could imagine being invitingly sunny and lovely in summer. Like Korpo, Hanko is one of those resort towns that swells in size when the sun decides to stay out. However for most of the day things were wet and grey, so I was happy just to curl up in front of the fireplace. I should have brought a book.

I left in the morning to what I thought would be a quick stop in Helsinki before heading south, but instead it became figuring how to get home. I had about 2 minutes in Turku to make the last bus to Korpo so thank god my 2018 didn't get off to a worse start with me being stuck in Turku for a night without a roof over my head.

I have so much to do in the next two months. Most importantly I need to lay out plans for when I get back to Melbourne, as well as working towards finishing some of the stuff that I started here. I have an open studio on Thursday so that's one short term goal to look towards. Photos to come.

Brian Cheung