i was bored out of my skull last christmas since finns give themselves nearly 3 weeks off from regular life, including shutting out the outside world for the 3 days around christmas. i declared that we would go somewhere warm, we would stay at a resort! boo. this didnt happen.
Y does not have a passport yet (coming soon) and the two candidate holiday islands (madeira and canary islands) were closer to the ebola coast than i would have preferred (yes i realize that being hundreds of kilometers from the moroccan coast puts them very far away from the affected areas). so we did the next best thing(?), we rented a car and drove ourselves around helsinki and espoo for a few days acting like regular american families over holiday break. lol. :)
dec 25: dave picked up the rental car in the evening. it was so easy that he is now engaged in a serious love affair with our airport. he then struggles in the frigid temperatures to install the car seats and parks it on the street.
dec 26: in the afternoon, we all drive over (during a beautiful snow fall) to the city of espoos serena water park. everyone loved being in the car together, it definitely felt like a treat rather than a burden.
the water park also shares its facilities with an outdoor water park for summer and a small ski hill (smaller than pine knob). serena water park is older than the flamingo water park we tried out last year. the shower/locker room facilities were disappointing, but the pools were fun. the baby pool water was warm and shallow and the air was warm so Y did well until he got hungry and tired. X had fun going on slides, jumping around, going in the sauna, and having fun however else she could.
dec 27: X and dave ran errands using the car in the morning. not surprising, this task was so much easier and more efficient with a vehicle! then we all drove over to espoo again, this time to the weegee museum area. this building houses 5 museums, but we were only interested in two of them. we had a small lunch from the cafe and then checked out the toy museum (lame, everything was in glass cases) and then enjoyed the emma (modern art museum). they had so much art that kids could interact with: projector/video exhibits, sound exhibits, geometric/optical shapes to play with, and a crafty seasons room near the main entrance where you could create something from each season and hang it on a huge rotating tree.
dec 28: X and dave ran out to pick-up takeout lunch. what a treat! then we undertook the seriously heinous task of huge mall shopping. we went to the megalopolis mall in vantaa called, appropriately, jumbo. im out of practice with malls. im sure its no bigger than a typical mall in the US but we were all overwhelmed. we were so lucky to get a parking spot near an entrance but the place was slam packed with people...likely those who were also stir crazy at home and just needed to get out and...shop. we needed a couple household items and i popped in to two stores for clothes. we left asap, well, after we all enjoyed an ice cream treat. :)
dec 29: we lamely finished off our car 'vacation' with a trip to ikea. we needed a few last things to check off daves holiday break 'to do' list. it was nice not having to go there by bus, and it was nice to get so much done. it even inspired some 'winter cleaning' which was welcome activity to make me feel like we dusted ourselves off and can start fresh in the new year when we are back to our regular routine.
so, this car rental idea turned out to be a good one. perhaps we will do it for future winters (when we arent off sunbathing), but i am glad that we arent in charge of a car regularly. having one once in a while makes us use it efficiently to get things done, helps us explore our surroundings easier, and boosts our positive energy for the city, but i like not having to pay for ownership and maintenance.