Monday, 9 September 2013

Saying Hei Helsinki, Again!

I can travel through my travel pictures. Such a mind I enjoy. Every time I feel that urge of packing my bags and leaving the mundane behind, I open my photo albums and get lost in them, literally. I have travelled a lot, not enough to pen a ‘Lonely Planet’ but certainly more than what just 3-decades of shamelessly indulgent existence deserves. Hyperbolically speaking, my photo collection can make a ring around the Moon and make astronauts feel Saturn is closer home. Really!  

Lately, on an unusual day of trying to feel constructive, I started labelling old pictures and shoe-boxing them in the right categories for ease of search. That’s when I came across old pictures of our Helsinki-Stockholm trip from some years back. Forgetting what I had set out to do, my grey matter started itching to remember the little Finnish I had learnt for the trip. To God Mr. Google I instantly prayed for some help and found my answers.


I looked at the basic phrases of Finnish on this British site. With a smile I remembered how everyone smiled when I tried to pronounce “Anteeksi, missa on WC?” (Excuse me, where’s the toilet?). Being 7 months pregnant meant frequent nature calls and the sub-zero temperatures did not let you hold it in too long either. Even as I scanned the list for all the mispronunciations a human being is capable of, I kept going back to the blue-and-orange Yatra.com advert banner flashing before my eyes. It seemed to be saying to me what Oscar Wilde wildly said once – The best way to get rid of temptation is to give in to it. Was this tempting 'Hurry!' a Happy Coincidence asking me to do just that - give in? 

Past Tense 

I was in Helsinki for Christmas holidays in 2010. Call it a cross between a honeymoon and a baby shower, if you please. It was the closest I have lived to the Arctic Circle and very exciting. Exciting because at 9 am the Sun used to make an attempt to rise behind the snowy clouds and at 3:30 pm it was gone. Did that mean it was time for dinner and bed in the afternoon? No sir, no way! The city kept awake, of course. Wrapped up like onions and with my belly full of baby, we used to walk the streets every night, me and my husband. The smell of snow, of Christmas lights adorning every corner and the ‘Hei’ generously shared with strangers on festively high spirits, literally, made us go wow at every turn. We saw all important sites of Helsinki on foot, night-after-night. In the day we slept like owls. We even took an over-night cruise to gamble away our hard-earned money on the Baltic, only to enjoy old Stockholm’s charm on empty pockets but wide-eyes the next day.  


The Finnish are impressive personalities, with lovely cheek bones, jaw lines and eyes which remind you of blue lagoons, albeit at a height of nearly 6 feet. I made sure I got an eyeful (and I am sure Mister did too) only because when pregnant, you should look at nice-looking things and no other. We ate everything from shark to boiled beetroot to our comfort food in foreign climes called McDonald's and Subway. The water went from spring to mineral to sparkling to I-just-want-the-normal-purifier-water, someone? Pregnancy hormones behaved themselves, the baby kicked in glee eating all that fruit yogurt and Mister and I got a good one week to hold hands in abundance and answer the ‘boy or girl?’ questions of kind passers-by with a shrug of our shoulders, but a heart full of anticipation.


On one such night, when the 20 layers of clothing on our bodies could not hold out the minus 20 degrees of wind blowing and we desperately looked for a coffee shop to revive our frozen ribs, we came by a warmly lit-up baby shop. It was our last night of the holiday and as we peeped inside at the prams and strollers, we swore to ourselves, right there, that we will get our little one to Helsinki and Stockholm one fine day. To tell him how, at 28 weeks, he had added to the beauty of our experience manifold!  

Present Tense 

The advert on the Finnish language site that seemed to be Coincidence's doing was to be the catalyst for keeping my promise to my little one. I rubbed clicked on the magic lamp link and a genie seemed to start a chain reaction of click after click leading to a ‘booked’ for the December that is to come. Not having planned and booked my family’s travel on my own before, I had no idea about the how and why of doing it all online. But a desire to throw a surprise for the boys and being wildly led by what Wilde said, I thought why not.

I was bent on planning everything to the T, to ensure that my holiday is speed-breakers free. I wanted to ensure a wallet-friendly package, hassle-free booking procedure and everything delivered as promised on the site. I also wanted to leave no stones unturned or no other site unchecked before doing my fare comparisons. And the last thing I wanted to see? A message that read ‘page expired’ or ‘session ended’ as my bank balance decreased even as the transaction failed over a sad server connection. With this baggage of expectations I entered the advert and keyed in my expected dates of travel.   


This indeed took just a few seconds and the confidence ringing through the ‘best international flight combinations for you’ made me very confident in turn. An array of flights found and the competitive rates to grab right before my eyes. A quick calculation of budget and time zone difference away, my flight was ready to take-off with me and my family. Next came the hotel booking, especially important since a week is not a short duration. Will I have to sell off my car to afford it? Or my house? I mused. The filters helped me find the one that fit the family income as well as my specifications of facilities, especially since I was to have a toddler in tow. The detailed advanced search for short-listing hotels was a breeze.  


 And eurekaYatra.com seemed to have read my mind! Radisson Blu Royal Hotel , where we had stayed the last time around too, popped up as I entered my requirements. And when I saw a Smart Deal offer on the hotel of my choice, I quickly added a few extra items to my long shopping list because now I could afford to - thanks to the sudden windfall of another happy Smart Coincidence! 


I was a happy (and confident) traveller already, as I “travelled” on Yatra.com and finalized the formalities. Like I said, I had never booked a holiday single-handedly before. But now I know, that if this is the site you too choose for your travel plans, you need not worry about failed transactions, online banking security, sorry speed of servers, limited options to choose from and hidden catches waiting like a trap. Yatra.com is a different experience altogether.

Future Tense

I sit enjoying my Pre-travel Happiness High, for I know already that I have ensured a well-planned and comfortable trip to Helsinki for my beau, my boy and myself. And what begins so well, can only grow to be even better. Happy Travellers we shall surely be. I always wanted to scream “Olemme takaisin, Helsinki” – We Are Back, Helsinki. And this time around we will be three. But shh! That is just a little secret between you, me and my genie.   


[Post written for 'Creating Happy Travellers' hosted by IndiBlogger in association with Yatra.com]

49 comments:

  1. I am one up on you Sakshi! I can quite enjoy traveling looking at other people's travel photographs :) Thank you for 'my' trip to Finland :)

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    1. You really do enjoy a mind better than mine, if that little collage made you go on a trip. :) But let me tell you, it is a place you must visit someday, Suresh. I have a feeling if I had put pictures of our cruise (except one of the vessel there is none here) you would have packed your bags instantly! :D

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  2. Helsinki... hmmm, now that does sound like an attractive place to go to. All the best for the contest.

    Arvind Passey
    www.passey.info

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    1. It is attractive indeed, Arvind. Thanks for reading! :)

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  3. Good one Sakshi.. Hope & pray that this well crafted piece wins its (well-deserved) prize... And, hoping to read through another delightful piece on your next trip to Helsinki soon :-)

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    1. We have both been hoping for that prize for me for a while now, Senthil. :) If only we knew what the judges like. I could never even figure what my teachers at school wanted from me each passing exam. :P Hoping to make a trip to Helsinki, or any where, with you two! :)

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  4. Interesting idea... All the best for the contest :-)

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    1. Thank you, Divya. And thanks for stopping by! :)

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  5. Ah! you are so fortunate to have traveled a lot of places, Sakshi. I haven't even heard the name Helsinki! All the best for the contest!

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    1. Enough places for 3-decades, but still not enough, Diwaker. :) I hadn't heard of Helsinki till I got there too, so it's OK. Wishing you lots of reasons to travel to unheard of places and write about it too. :D

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  6. Best of luck for yet another trip to Helsenki, where the snow never melts and the hearts are forever warm:)

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    1. "where the snow never melts and the hearts are forever warm" - Lovely. Thanks for reading, Rahul. :)

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  7. Helsinki sounds lovely ! Hope you make it with the help of the genie ;) All the best for the contest !

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    1. Yes, with the help of a genie I surely will, themoonstone. ;) Thanks for stopping by. :)

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  8. My best wishes to you! Helsinki looks like a very beautiful place,thanks for showing us all a small glimpse of its beauty!

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  9. So the 24 week old angel has globe trotted already? Time to take him there again. Dollar/Rupee willing, you can plan a visit during summer vacations.
    I have never been there but I did get a feel of the place via this lovely post.

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    1. Summers is season time, spring carnival time there. I wish it to be winter and Xmas only because we want to re-do what we have already. It's less crowded, the fares are good and there is snow, lots of it. :D However, with the Rupee misbehaving such, I wonder when I will see the inside of an international flight. :( Thank you, Alka.

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  11. A lovely narration of your trip Sakshi. Although tempting, will have to wait for the rupee to behave.

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    1. Thank you, Ilakshee. I wrote this from my heart. I too am waiting for the Rupee to stop misbehaving to plan my trip :) (PS - I want to know the meaning of your name. It's beautiful, and would love to suggest it to those seeking baby name suggestions)

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  12. Here's hoping that you finish that second Finnish trip of your life. ATB for the contest.

    Nice post, loved how you managed to conjure up a prize winning entry :D

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    1. Thanks, Jairam. The prizes have been elusive. I just compete when I see the topic adding to my blog. Dead lines keep the laziness of writing away. :)

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  13. Good one... arctic circle has eluded me sofar, but after reading about all the onions type layers of clothes needed I am wondering If I would be able to cope up with it.

    All the best for the contest...

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    1. Yes, you will be able to cope with is, Prasad. Let the Rupee behave itself, and then go check it out. :) Thank you for stopping by!

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  14. I like that part of the world so much. I'm a die hard fan of Finish and Swedish Metal music :)

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    1. I must try that out. Thank you for the tip, Jahid. :)

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  15. Ah travel posts - my favorite kinds ! And you describe Helsinki so beautifully. I want to go there so badly even if it is just to drown into those blue lagoon eyes :P

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    1. You must go, Ruchira. You see, the real pictures are in my PC. Come over, we will drown in the blue lagoons together. ;) Thanks for reading! Next up is a parenting one so happy you stopped by already! :P

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  16. Lovely post Sakshi! Loved travelling through your memories. I've always been a little wary of heading someplace with so much snow, but maybe, just maybe I will be willing to brave it now. Thanks for sharing your experience and all ze best for the contest.

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    1. Thanks, Priyanka. I do wish you visit the place someday, or any place wrapped in snow for that matter. It's beautiful! :)

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  17. Moon ~ Saturn; Really creative there :P
    I foresee a prize :) :D

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    1. Oh how I wish you were the judge, Anil. Or that you were my astrologer reading the Moon-to-Saturn equation and conversion and predicting a happy future. :) Thanks for reading, though! I loved writing this post, because the trip was a most unique one. :)

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  18. That was such a nice read! Made me miss the cold, winter, festive Thanksgiving - Christmas time in New York!
    How nice that you are off to Helsinki again!
    And good luck with the contest, too.

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    1. Oh, I thought I made you miss the "cold, winter, festive Thanksgiving - Christmas time" in Helsinki. :) Seems like you haven't seen Helsinki Christmas as yet. Must see!

      Sure I'm off to Helsinki, again. And yes, the contest. Thank you, Rickie. :D

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    2. The closest I have been to Helsinki is Copenhagen. :)

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    3. The closest I have been to Copenhagen on my map is Kerala. :) Have you swum in the lakes there? I hear there are sharks. That's why, perhaps, the saying - 'swimming in dangerous waters!' :)

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  19. Hey sakshi. Reading your post was like leafing through a well-penned classic. I dunno if u have plans for writing a full length novel or not, but if u do then there wil be at least one little guy queueing up to buy it

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    1. Did not have any plans of penning a neo-classic novel, but I must say, your comment did get me thinking, and very happy too. :D Thanks, Ritesh. Made my day.

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  20. Hi sakshi,

    I dont know how i ended up at your blog but real glad i did. I went to helsinki this summer and you made me relive it and some more ....i think i am doing it again sometime and with my son this time for sure .

    You do an absolutely excellent job of penning down your thoughts and the words seem to reach out to the readers soul .

    Had fun reading... will try and keep coming back for more if thats all right

    Ruchita

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    1. Oh, pleasure is all mine that you landed on my farm. SO happy to know someone else has been to Helsinki. :D I too am planning to do it again sometime, and just like you, with my son in tow too. :)

      Glad you like my writing. Hope to see you around! :D

      Big thank you for all the words of appreciation. :)

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  21. Helsinki! Whoa! This lovely write-up has got my curiosity piqued! There's so so much to see in this world! Helsinki...someday for sure! :D
    Best of luck for the contest!

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    1. There is actually so much to see in this world, Solitary Reaper. Thanks for reading! :)

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  22. Yeah! helsinki it is!

    I am sure your kid will be delighted to meet Santa as you will be near the artic circle...ho ho ho!

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    1. Oh, you know, I became a Santa for him last Christmas. But it cannot get more original than a Nordic Santa. :D Ho Ho Ho, Ruchira. Thanks for reading.

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  23. Interesting post , Sakshi.
    Nice blog by the way.

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