It is Monday afternoon in California time. The bags are packed with Christmas gifts and winter clothes (the little winter gear we have), and we are ready for our Christmas trip. It has been raining all day so we know that there must be traffic chaos on the Bay Area roads. Especially during Christmas week and at five o'clock. Half an hour drive to Oakland airport is now over an hour but luckily we reserved a lot of time for the drive. Traffic maps shows 5 accidents and all the roads are red. We are lucky to get there on time with no bigger surprises.
The plane leaves 45 minutes late. We leave rainy California behind us only to find out how rainy and dark it is in Helsinki. But still it feels good to be back in Finland! Our last visit was over a year and a half ago. At the hotel restaurant I go for the most Finnish foods I can find, and for my favorite Finnish drink "Lonkero" or Long Drink. It's starting to feel like home already. And tired. It's time to hit the sack.
During my five years in California it seems like I have forgotten how dark it is here during winter. I wake up in the middle of the night, at 2 am and it is pitch black outside. Because of jet lag we can't sleep the whole night and we already go to breakfast at 6 am. And it is still pitch black outside. Rye bread, Karelian pastries, rice pudding, star pastries. Lovely! All the foods I have missed from my country. Even after breakfast it is still dark outside. After 9 am we finally are able to see outside from the hotel window and see what it looks like out there. Grey and rainy!
But all that is about to change when we travel to Ostrobothnia and to my home town in the middle of Finland. It was just snowing over there. Our small airplane from Helsinki to Kokkola has some problems landing and the captain makes an announcement which goes roughly like this: "Due to heavy cloud coverage we might not find the runway, and we might have to try the landing a couple times. Also, the precision instruments of the aircraft are not in use. We hope that the landing goes well... so merry Christmas." Really? I jam into the arm rests and wonder all the various better ways that this announcement could have been done. Just moments before I was arguing with a guy sitting next to my husband, that indeed the space under the seat in front of him is for his use only, not for someone else's oversized hand luggage. In a long time I haven't met anyone as rude as this guys was. "Welcome to Kokkola" I think.
We land safely and someone in front of the plane greets the captain with applause. I'm home! White Christmas is here!
Oh one more thing, welcome to my new website. After blogging in Finnish for several years on blogspot, I wanted a place where I can also write about other things with my own terms. So what could be better than my own domain. My old blog can still be read here but it is in Finnish. You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram. I always appreciate good comments and tips!
“You raze the old to raise the new.”
— Justina Chen, North of Beautiful
TIPS FOR FLYING WITH NORWEGIAN AIRLINES FROM USA TO EUROPE
- Bring your own headphones and a blanket, you can get them on these flights but for a charge
- Norwegian only offers the meals you purchased beforehand, so if you want to munch something between the meals, bring some snacks
- If you are flying to Oakland like we did, book your seats from the front of the plane. The airport is very small and the lines to the few custom desks they have are long. If you end up at the end of the line, it might take you almost two hours to get out of the airport
- Same applies to departing flights from Oakland. Lines for security checks get long fast so don't come at the last minute
- At the moment, all the Norwegian flights from Oakland leave in the evening, so they are perfect with small kids. After the meal kids will get tired quickly and sleep most of the flight
- The down side of the evening flight is that you will be driving to the airport at the worst traffic hour, so make sure you have enough time to get there