Tallinn, Estonia an old city with a wall. Days three and four.

We like walled cities, especially old walled cities. We were excited to explore this old walled city, which was new to us.  Since we had upgraded our rooms, which included free use of the gym Dale got up and used the gym that morning before we went down to breakfast on the second floor. We were happy to see that the breakfast was certainly worth the upgrade. They had muesli, they also had oatmeal. They also had typical European breakfast foods, breads, cheese, cold meats. They had yogurt, fruit, eggs of all types including soft and hard boiled plus omlets to order. It was much better than we expected. The oatmeal was soupy enough that I didn’t need to add milk to it. Since I was getting a cold I was glad that we could start off the day with an easily procured breakfast.

We talked to the concierge and got an idea of what to do that day. After purchasing our Tallinn cards at the hotel, we started off with a mini-bus tour of the city. The bus met us at the hotel at ten-fifteen. There were only three other people on the tour which was great. We went to a bunch of sites around the city including the area where the royal residences were. The place that was the most interesting to me was the song festival grounds. They have a big national song festival every five years. This is what helped the people retain their nationalism during the many years of occupation by other countries. It is a great story. We had watched the video about it before we came on the trip.

Here we are at the singing grounds, it was cold. The amphitheater holds 30,000 people. Every five years a festival is held here. The next one is this year in July. All 30,000 sing together for one hour.




The weather was getting kind of bad when we stopped the bus part of the tour and started the walking part of the tour inside the walls of the old town. I had a rain jacket on with a hood which kept me dry but I was so cold. When I got cold my nose would be completely stuffed up so I couldn’t breath. We would go in somewhere and I would start to warm up a bit and I could breath again.  After the tour ended we walked around the old town and looked in some of the shops and found a place to eat dinner. It wasn’t all that good, but at least it was expensive. We walked back to the hotel in the rain. We were tired, cold, wet and footsore, but we were still enjoying ourselves.

Views in old town. The first is St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.  Then view from the high point in old town. An open square in old town.





We really wanted to save our feet the next day so the concierge suggested that we ride the hop on hop off bus.  We wanted to go to the open air museum which was outside of the town and the hop on hop off bus was the easiest way to get there. She told us that we would have to pay ten euros to ride the bus. We checked out of the hotel and put our luggage into the locked luggage room while we toured. We walked to the bus stop which was just outside the city wall and showed them our Tallinn card and to our surprise we didn’t have to pay for the bus at all.

The open air museum. I love the thatched roofs.



Luckily for us it was a much nicer day, cold but with blue skies. The bus took us out to the museum and we noticed that buses came only once an hour so we would have to pay attention to the time so we wouldn’t miss the bus. We got the audio guides which came free with our Tallinn card as well as entrance to the museum.

We loved the museum, there were some of the displays that had people in period dress doing typical work. One of the most interesting was the women who were working with fibers. They had wool, but I think they also grow flax in this area. They told us about using natural dyes and had bags of things that they use to dye the wool. If they wanted to make something dark blue they had to use indigo which was imported. The woman there assumed that it was imported from the USA because that is where denim comes from. I had to tell her that indigo dye comes from tropical plants and that denim cloth was first produced in Nime, France. It was originally called serge de Nime and was shortened to denim. She told how they produced a lighter shade of blue by mixing indigo with urine. It made a lovely sky blue color which would stink if it got wet. We walked all over the museum and went into several exhibits. Another interesting one was the school. The teacher’s accommodations were part of the school house. They had it set up with period furnishings. It was really fun. They also had a store that was set up with things to sell. We bought some local chocolate there that featured wrappings that were from an earlier part of the twentieth century.

We were getting really tired and decided that we didn’t want to miss the bus so we headed back to the entrance where we shopped in the little souvenir shop as we waited for our bus back to the hotel. We knew we were done for the day. We could have seen a lot more if we had bicycles to ride between the displays. The bus took us around to the rest of the sites which we viewed from the comfort of our seats. When we got off the bus we walked towards the hotel and then found a Stockmans where we bought food for our late lunch and then dinner and breakfast on the ferry we would be taking to Stockholm that night. We sat in some comfortable chairs at the hotel while we waited a bit until it was time to take a taxi to the ferry terminal.

Since we weren’t going to the buffet on the ship checking in was easy and fast. We boarded a the ship, it felt like you were going on a cruise, they even had photographers at the beginning of the gangway. The boat had a band that was playing Brazilian music as we boarded, at least that was what was advertised. We took the elevator to deck nine and found our room in the middle section the ship.  As soon as we sailed away we checked out the supermarket where they sold cigarettes, booze and chocolate. I was looking for travel packets of tissues because of my dripping nose but, alas, they didn’t have them in a small pack just packs of twenty or so.  We hooked onto the ships WiFi  and checked out our email etc. I was so tired that I could hardly walk. We went back to our room and ate some of our food.  I changed and lay down. I didn’t intend on falling asleep right then but I did. I woke up at one and then again at four and was awake for good. I got to watch as we sailed through the Swedish archipelago. I didn’t want Dale to miss it so I woke him up so he could see. I knew he would thank me for it. We took quite a few pictures, it was very beautiful. We were surrounded by many islands some large enough to be inhabited, but many were just big rocks in the water.  We showered and had breakfast and Dale and I went out on deck. It was cold outside and we were hanging out with the smokers so we came back in. We got some more snacks in the supermarket and then came back into our rooms.

Janet looking at the Swedish archipelago from our ferry room.


Some of the thousands of islands as we approached Stockholm.



We loved Estonia, it’s a shame that I got sick and that it rained, I’m sure we would have done more things there. Estonian people refer to anything from their country as Estii. Estii food and Estii handcrafts etc. I would like to visit Estonia again someday and see some of the countryside.  I would also love to walk around the old town again when it is warmer and not raining.

Helsinki: Day 2

There was a gym in our hotel and since Dale had brought exercise clothes and since he was awake quite early he went to find it. After that he searched for a store to buy bread. He was never able to find the one he wanted so he went back to the train station and found some bread for breakfast there.

We wanted to check out transport to the ferry terminal for our ride to Estonia that evening. We knew which tram, number nine, and which direction to go. We caught the tram and it took fifteen minutes to get to the ferry terminal, which was the end of the line. We checked it out making sure we knew where to check in. It looked easy, and since it was just a two hour ferry we weren’t worried. When we took the tram back we went into Stockman’s and bought some food to eat on the ferry. We went back to the hotel, packed our suitcases and then checked out. We left the suitcases at the hotel and then went to the place where we would catch our bus for the bus tour we had booked.

The tour took us around to some of the places we saw yesterday including the Rock church. We went by the Sibelius monument and we could either get out and walk up to the monument or stay on the bus and listen to Finlandia and I wanted to do both. We walked up to the monument while I hummed Finlandia.

When that was finished (Finnished?) we walked over to the ferry terminal for the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and took the ferry out to the fortress. This was another free event with our Helsinki Card. We took a long walk around the fortress and then headed back to catch the two-twenty ferry. The fortress is huge and we could have spent a lot of time there, but our feet were sore and we needed to be back in time to take the ferry to Tallinn, Estonia. We dropped by the Stockmans on our way to the hotel and picked up some chocolate and then headed to our hotel to pick up our suitcases and then went to the tram platform. Helsinki is a beautiful city, I wish we could have spent more time here. I would also have liked to seen more of the countryside. These are some of the things I noticed about Helsinki, it is quite clean for a large city. Kids use skateboards and scooters a lot and they are fast and skillful weaving in and out of foot traffic. There is a skateboard park close to the Olympic Stadium so they have a safe venue to practice. One other thing we noticed was a weird hairstyle. I saw this on three different people. the bottom inch and a half of hair was shaved in the back from in front of the ear around to the other ear and the rest of the hair was pulled up into a ponytail. I guess that takes care of the pesky short hairs that always fall out of the ponytail.

Our tram came right away and we were off to the ferry terminal. Since we made a dry run we were confident in our ability to get on the right ferry. We checked in and got our boarding pass from a ticket automat and then walked onto the ship, a very long walk. the ship is huge, like a cruise ship, we found a place to sit and since we were both tired we didn’t mind just sitting. The ride took two hours. When we got there it was easy to find a cab into the city to our hotel. The hotel is on the outskirts of the old town, very convenient. We upgraded our rooms so we could eat breakfast in the hotel and so Dale could use the gym. I was coming down with a cold and was very tired so we went to bed.

Dale and I at the Sibelius monument, I was humming Finlandia.



Some pictures from the UNESCO world heritage site of Suomenlinna, a sea fortress, the pictures just don’t convey how huge it is.



Helsinki, the adventure continues. May 11, Mother’s Day.

It takes a while to get over jet-lag. We were ten time zones away from the PNW. That usually translates to five days of jet-lag for me. It doesn’t mean just being awake at odd hours. It also means being hungry at odd hours. For a while it is hard to get your body to cooperate. Naturally since this was the first day of our stay in Europe I woke up at one a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep. Dale also woke up early but he managed to get back to sleep a little later. We had purchased some food the day before and breakfasted in our room. After that we got a two day Helsinki card at the hotel and then went out to get tickets at a kiosk close to where all the tourist buses and boats were located. We took a wonderful one and a half hour boat trip around the harbor. The weather was great, brisk but with a blue sky. We sat outside for most of the trip and were able to see this great city. Helsinki is built on a very rocky piece of ground. The little islands in the harbor were mostly just rocky outcrops jutting out of the water. When we turned around to head back we were going into the wind and it got to cold to sit outside so we had to sit inside. There was one point where we went out again because the boat was slowly creeping through an impossibly narrow canal. We also saw several regattas of small sail boats manned by teenagers sailing with instructors. If you live by the sea you need to learn to sail.

Here we are on the boat, the bottom one is going through the canal.

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Finland is one of the countries considered to be a Nordic country. The Nordic countries are Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland. The Scandinavian countries are Sweden, Norway and Denmark. All the Nordic countries love their saunas. We saw many of these small houses dotted close to the water wherever we looked. People usually have one sauna a week and truly believe that they are good for you. Each sauna has a heat source. Most of the ones we saw had a stack of wood and a big chimney. You fire up the heat and sit in the sauna, then you pour water over the hot stones and sit in the steam. After you get really hot you leave the sauna and dive into the cold water of the bay or lake. It must feel good because we were told that everyone does it.

We walked back to the hotel for a break. Helsinki is really not that big of a city and since our hotel was located by the train station everything was really close for us. We would walk through a shopping area to get to the tourist section from our hotel. We would walk by the big Stockmans store each time. Stockmans is a big department store like Harrod’s in London, or KaDeWe in Berlin. They had a really great deli where we usually got our lunches and breakfasts. We also walked by the Marimekko store, which I didn’t know was a Finnish enterprise. I didn’t have time to shop there but looked longingly at the beautiful cloth as we walked by.

In the afternoon we took a tram tour. Due to construction the first tram didn’t do the whole tour so we had to catch another one going the other direction. We went by several noteworthy sites. One of them was the beautiful Olympic venue for the 1952 Olympics. Helsinki was originally chosen to host the 1940 Olympics which were canceled because of WWII. We got off the tram towards the end and walked to a beautiful church which is carved out of solid rock and is mostly underground.  Then we found our way to the National Museum and walked through that before walking back to the hotel.

The two pictures below are of the stone church. The top one is one of the outside and the bottom one is inside the church.

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Dale scouted out places to eat and we ended up eating in a not so great Indian restaurant in the train station. We ate lunch at the train station also. I found a sandwich on rye bread at a kiosk and Dale ate at the Burger King at the train station. This was the prettiest Burger King ever. The ceilings were very high and it was quite beautiful so I really didn’t mind so much. What I minded that there was a Burger King in the beautiful train station.


We had done a lot of walking and we were very tired after eating and went back to the hotel where we both nodded off over our books before we decided to go to bed.

What I did on my vacation.

Dale and I have decided that we will post about our recent trip to Europe in the family blog. You can ignore it if you aren’t interested or you can hang on every word if you want.

The best part about an upcoming vacation is anticipating all the fun you will have. The worst part is the beginning of the trip. Leaving the house, wondering if you forgot anything, and then there is the actual travel part. Traveling to Europe by plane stinks. Your first impressions are always marred by the fact that you are extremely tired, a bit rumpled, hungry and confused. It didn’t help that we flew into the worst airport that I have ever flown into, Charles de Gaulle. Since I haven’t flown into every airport I can’t say it is the worst in the world. We haven’t had many good experiences here. It’s a shame, because when we were flying home from that same airport I could see the Eiffel Tower from the airplane.

The beginning of the trip was smooth. Carolyn and Ri arrived to go with us so we wouldn’t have to park at the airport for 2.5 weeks. The drive was great and we were let off right at the front of the airport terminal which makes the beginning so much easier. We got through security easily due to our TSA pre-check. We got on the plane, in the middle seating, but at least one aisle seat. Since we checked our bags through we had only small bags to worry about. Dale had ordered special meals for me.  We tried to sleep, but it wasn’t really our sleeping time so we just sat in a stupor as the trip neared the end in Paris. When we got off the plane we boarded a bus and took a rather long and twisted route through what appeared to be a warehouse district. We went through immigration and then we had to go through security again to get to our next flight to Helsinki.  We moved slowly towards the security with a mass of other people. TSA pre-check doesn’t mean anything outside of the USA.  We got on our flight and made it to our destination and because of Dale’s help we were able to find the bus to our hotel. The one interesting thing I noticed on the way to town was the road construction along the way. They use a lot of wood, it made it look like they were building a boat instead of roads. The bus let us out in front of the train station and we walked to our hotel which was conveniently located on the other side of the train station. The other thing I noticed were women in Finland like to color their hair in odd colors. We saw a lot of pastel hues and that ugly red that is so common in Europe. We even saw some with various pastel shades in patches.

The worst part of any trip to Europe is trying to get over the jet-lag as quickly as you can so it doesn’t ruin much of the trip. I think jet-lag is really bad for young children ages three to ten and old people like me. We went to bed when we were so tired that we couldn’t stay awake any longer and of course I woke up at one a.m. and couldn’t go back to  sleep.

This is the train station in Helsinki, right by our hotel.


Decoration Day

We will be traveling for the next bit, returning on Memorial Day.  This is my memory of Memorial Days, past.

When I was young, I thought that the holiday was really called Decoration Day.  I guess, that was what it was called right after the Civil War, but that is what we called it in Utah.  It was a day to decorate the graves of our loved ones in the local cemeteries.

Our preparation began the day before and my mom had several large baskets to put our flowers in.  May 30th, when I was young, was still early enough that often we had tulips and “bridal wreath”.  We also had Peonies, lilacs and a few other flowers from our garden.  One would never think of buying flowers for the graveyard.

Our family would get up early and mom would finish the flower baskets and go first to the Providence Cemetery (located in River Heights).  There my fraternal Grandparents are buried.  We would meet friends at that cemetery and never get by without some conversations with people I had never met.  Our next stop was the Logan cemetery, where my maternal Grandmother was buried.  It was harder to find that grave site as the cemetery is much larger and it doesn’t have a large “snowball” bush right by her grave, as does the Providence Cemetery.  We didn’t often see people we knew there, but that didn’t stop my mom from looking around for a familiar face.

Our final stop for the day was the Franklin Idaho Cemetery, where my great Grandparents and uncles, aunts were buried.  There were always lots of people for my mother to talk to there.  When she would see someone she knew, off in the distance, her “humming machine” would start.  “Hum, Hum.”  She could hardly hold it in until she could talk to someone.

In retrospect, it was really a boring day for us kids.  But, I still remember it, so I guess it was memorable.

Me too

I guess I too am ready with enough to read.  I have 3 e-books, 3 audio books, General Conference, both audio and printed formats, scriptures, 5,000 Sudoku games, and a host more.  I hope I fall asleep before I read much.  I got up at 5 the last two mornings, so I’ll be sleepy on the flight to Paris.  Finland is 10 hours ahead of us.  There will be jet lag.

Nervous, and excited.

I may have enough to read.

I have downloaded eight books to my kindle. I learned how to use hoopla which is a service that our library supports which allows me to download audiobooks onto my phone. I have downloaded five audiobooks from there. I don’t plan on taking any print books with me. I usually read a lot while we are on vacation. I hope I have enough books because I can’t read in Finnish, Swedish, Danish or German.

I discovered today that audiobooks put me to sleep when I’m tired. I do want to sleep on the airplane, so that is good. I guess that it doesn’t really matter what I’m listening to if all I want is to fall asleep. The big problem is I’ll probably be tired for the whole trip. My sleep will be disrupted at the beginning and I don’t know if I’ll get my sleeping groove back before we come home.  Even though I may get through all the books that I’m taking I doubt if I’ll be able to tell you anything about them after I’ve read them.

First post in a long time.

We have the blog back. There are pictures to look at, and posts to read. Kurt fixed it up for us.
This is my celebratory month and so I look at this as my birthday/Mother’s day gift.
I have read some old posts and look forward to reading more posts. It will be fun looking at pictures that we haven’t seen in a long time. Some of those may have been lost because of computer shutdowns.
Spend some time, look it over and write, write, write.

The blog is back!

If you are reading this, then that means the famous Abersold family blog is back online at it’s new home! the old URL abersoldfamily.org should redirect to blog.abersold.org, it just doesn’t seem to be working yet. I am excited to explore the features of wordpress to make this blog more fun. Also, some people expressed interest in having their own blog hosted here. This can be done! I just have to decide what the best naming convention would be. Not sure if kurt.blog.abersold.org or blog.abersold.org/kurt I am leaning towards the second one. (it’s also less work, go figure) It feels nice breaking the non-post streak here.