This photo was taken earlier this year on a very breezy and chilly day at the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, located on a group of islands off of Helsinki, Finland.
I have three photos to share for this weeks photo challenge. The first one is one of my favorite shots from our trip this past year to Paris. The guy in the background with the black jacket and his eyes closed was so peaceful and was handing out bird seed to people in the street to feed the birds. When we tried to pay him for it, he refused our money and just filled our hands with the seeds. He was one of those people who seemed so peaceful and fulfilled in life. As soon as I got over the surprise of the birds landing in my hands, I could feel the peacefulness that he must feel while feeding the birds, which I assume is often. I will be forever grateful for this wonderful experience on the streets in Paris!
This second photo is of a couple that I feel was just as peaceful in life and didn’t care what anyone thought in the beautiful streets of Tallinn, Estonia. They were just happy to be relaxing and soaking up the sun!
My last photo from the streets is of the Naked Invisible Man in Tallinn, Estonia. It’s truly amazing what you can find just walking around the streets of a new place you are exploring!
All the snow has melted here in Helsinki, and it is finally starting to really look like spring after a little tease we had a few weeks ago. Mia was lucky to wake up on her birthday to a beautiful fresh snowfall, which I am hoping was the last one for the season. I am way behind again on a blog post, but I have plenty of photos to share from around beautiful Helsinki during the winter as well as a few shots from a few places we have visited in the area. I am very happy to say that we managed to survive the darkness and a winter in Finland. We brought Florida with us and were very lucky as we heard this was the mildest winter in Finland in the last 20 some years!
My family and I are flying up to North Finland (Lapland) this evening for one last shot to see the northern lights. We are also signed up for skiing lessons as we have all never been snow skiing before. We only have about two months left here in Finland (yes, we are on the move again… this time to some place warmer)! I will post photos next week from our adventure this weekend and hopefully some aurora shots will be included. I am better prepared this time and have a tripod packed and ready to go… Aurora hunting here we come!!
This is my first time participating in the weekly photo challenge. I was seeing a lot of interesting shots from fellow bloggers on this week’s challenge and I wanted to include two of my favorite window photos I took this past year:
It’s 2014 and my family and I just returned to Finland a few days ago after spending three weeks back at home in Florida for the holidays. We have gone nonstop for the past year with the move and my husband’s busy job, so we really needed some time to recharge, thaw out, and just turn everything off for a couple of days. We were successfully able to do so mostly because my dad decided to put in this amazing koi pond for my mom a little over a year ago. My mom is from Okinawa, Japan, and one of her dreams has always been to have a koi pond in her backyard. Well, my dad jokes that he has heard her say that she has wanted one the whole time they have been married (40 years this year). So, if he was going to finally put one in for her, he was “going to make damn sure it was a really nice one, so he wouldn’t have to hear about one for the rest of his life!”
Well, he successfully did so after finding a company that installs koi ponds in the Central Florida area and to our surprise, construction finally began on my mom’s koi pond and was finished in only a couple of days! This corner of their backyard has turned into an amazing sanctuary where you can sit on one of the benches and listen to the sounds of the waterfall and truly feel yourself completely relax. My daughter Mia has spent hours upon hours playing and catching little minnows and frogs at the pond. There is even something so tranquil about feeding the koi (nishikigoi) and watching them come to the surface and swim around each other while they eat.
There is a lot involved in the pond such as the pump, waterfall feature, bubblers, UV lighting to control the algae, the filter, and testing the water. But, overall there is not much upkeep to it other than feeding the koi everyday and cleaning out the filter. There are about 30 koi total in the pond as well as minnows and frogs. The plants have really grown in since the install and although the lily pads that were originally put in looked really nice, they have all been eaten by the koi. Here are a few photos of the koi pond in my parent’s backyard:
2013 is coming to an end and this is what is coming to my mind, “Oh my, what a year it has been!” For my family and I, it will always be a year that we will never forget. It was filled with excitement, laughter, ups and downs, and even some “what the heck were we thinking” moments! This was the year that our family decided to donate 3/4 of our belongings, remove toxic people and things from our lives, move to Finland with only suitcases, and basically simplify our lives in so many ways. We also spent a lot of time focusing on our travel bucket list, and as we reflect on this past year, we have so much to be grateful for.
A few weeks before we moved to Finland, I received this email on Facebook from one of my high school classmates who I hadn’t seen in many years:
My friend lost her baby girl, Jaedyn, at only 16 months old after a tragic accident. Jaedyn would have been 10 years old this year. Since I can remember, my daughter Mia has always picked up rocks wherever we went. She has probably picked up a thousand by now! I would find them everywhere… at the bottom of my purse, in my pockets, her pockets, and her daddy’s pockets. She even has a very nice collection of them on her window sill in her room in Finland. So, after receiving this email from my friend, I knew this was a perfect job for my family and we started to pick up rocks for Jaedyn on our trips that we went on. Here is a photo of precious Jaedyn which was taken only three weeks before the accident:
Here are photos of the jar we made for her travel rocks and also photos from her gravesite where her mommy joined us to give the rocks to her a few days ago:
I will end 2013 with this photo of my daughter Mia with one of her rocks she has collected and a quote that I love about when a child gives you a rock. I would also love to hear any of my fellow bloggers’ stories about their children and rocks as well as any special things that you do for those who have passed. Thank you all for following along. I wish you a very Happy 2014 and a new year of peace and many exciting adventures!
My family and I had the chance to go Dog Sledding with Huskies and also to see the Northern Lights while on our visit to Rovaniemi, Finland a few weeks ago. Our trip to Lapland was one of the most exciting trips that we have ever taken!
Dog sledding with the huskies was probably one of the most exhilarating and relaxing experiences of our lives. The huskies were so excited before we went off for our ride… they kept doing this weird jump that reminded us of a fox while hunting. They couldn’t keep still and could hardly wait to go on the run!! We signed up for a one hour safari at the resort where we were staying (Santa Claus Holiday Village). When we signed up for the safari, we had no idea that my husband would be the one to actually drive the sled. Wow!! He had to go through a little lesson on how to use the brakes by pressing down on a wedge with his foot that went into the snow. He was also told how to assist the huskies while going uphill by pushing off in the snow with his feet. Mia and I sat in the sled and were covered in blankets since we were going on a pretty long ride. There was one sled in front of us with our tour guide and another sled behind us with another dad and his daughter.
After the huskies took off for our ride, all you could hear was Mia and I screaming with such excitement for about 10 minutes straight!! We were not expecting them to go so fast and we also went through such a twisted path at the beginning which went so close to so many big trees covered in snow. We kept thinking our sled was going to run right into them!! After the first 15 minutes of total excitement, we found ourselves in the middle of the most beautiful snow-covered forest. We were able to sit back and truly enjoy being in the Arctic Circle and Lapland! There were moments during the ride that we could not see the sled in front or back of us and it was just my family and I alone with the huskies in the forest. Although our tour started at noon, the sun was already setting around 1:00. The sun would rise around 11:00 and would be set by 2:00, so there was very little daylight there. Here are some of the photos I was able to get while riding in the sled and a few shots from right after our exciting ride:
One of my dreams has always been to see the Northern Lights in person. We knew that it could be hit or miss when trying to see them. We only had two nights to see them and we had no luck the first night of our trip even though the sky was completely clear that night. So, we had one last night and I was really hoping that we would get to see them on our trip to Lapland. I researched the internet to see what our chances would be that evening and what the best time to go out to look at the sky for them. I found out that the best time would be between 10:00 and 11:00, but we only had a moderate chance of seeing them according to the Auroras Now! website.
It was so cold (-6 F) and we could only stand to be outside for short periods of time, so we got all bundled up and headed outside at around 10:00. We looked around and didn’t see anything and then I noticed a slight arched light gray hazy line about 2 feet in height started to form across the sky not far from the horizon. We decided to climb up this snow mound close to our cabin and waited to see if anything would appear. Then slowly right before our eyes this arched line started to change from the grey to orangish to a bright green!! It would change in shape and disappear and then slowly appear again and at one point took up much of the sky at the horizon. We were in complete shock!!! The whole show only lasted about 20 maybe 25 minutes top. I wish I was better prepared to take photos… I didn’t even have a tripod! I hope that one day we will have the opportunity to go back and I will be able to getter shots. Here is what we were able to get… Not great, but I’m sure you can tell that they are the Northern Lights:
I will have one more post to end the craziest and most exciting year of our lives so far. To end 2013, I will share the story of a little angel who has been traveling with my family this past year.
We can now cross off these latest Red Pin Adventures off our travel bucket list:
Dog Sledding with Huskies Lapland – See the Northern Lights
It has been some time since my last post here on my blog. Honestly, I’m not sure where the time has gone! We seem to be busier and busier as we are getting settled in. We enjoyed seeing our first snowfall here in Finland this past weekend. I have also been meeting many moms from all over the world from Mia’s school and have been learning a lot about Finland as well as working on a few projects here. We have managed to pick up a few Finnish words here and there as well since Mia is learning Finnish in school!
My family and I really enjoyed our first trip to Paris. We didn’t have much time to explore on this trip, but we did manage to see a few of the must sees mostly in the late afternoons/evenings. Once again, there were so many things that I wanted to take a photo of! Paris was a little overwhelming, but so exciting all at the same time! Overall, I thought Paris was a very beautiful city and it was nice to finally see the Eiffel Tower and the Mona Lisa in person! Here are a few photos from our adventure:
The Mona Lisa
We were very excited to be able to take the journey into the famous Musée du Louvre to see the Mona Lisa in person and all of the other amazing artwork in this stunning museum. We just wish we had more time to explore a little longer. It was so massive and overwhelming that you would need an entire day to really get a good glimpse of all of the beautiful pieces on display. Here are a few photos from our experience seeing the Mona Lisa for the first time:
Please click on the images in the gallery below to see a larger view:
I will do one more post from Paris which will include images of the love locks and the beautiful Chateau de Versailles. I will end this post with two beautiful sunsets that I was lucky to get shots of. The first one is at The Louvre – we were a little lost and ended up walking past it again at just the right time. The last one is of the beautiful Eiffel Tower.
We can now mark Paris, France off our Red Pin Adventure Travel Bucket List:
Au revoir from la ville de l’amour! ♥
We decided to take an impromptu trip to another country this weekend. There is a cruise ship port only a 10-minute walk from our apartment, and we have been seeing the ships come in and out of the port from our patio. We walked over with just a small backpack and were able to purchase tickets over to the picturesque town of Tallinn, Estonia. We took the Eckero Line M/S Finlandia ship and chose the cabin for the return back so that we could sleep after a lot of walking and exploring. We had also heard that The Finns like to take a trip to Estonia to purchase cheaper alcohol and cigarettes. This was certainly true as we saw many people with carts loaded to the top with cases and cases of beer on the return trip to Finland!
We were pleasantly surprised with this charming place which is only a 2-hour cruise ride from Helsinki. It truly felt as though we had stepped off the cruise ship and landed right into a little Fairytale. We spent a very relaxing 5-hours exploring the Old Town area and then returned to the port for the short 2-hour trip back to Helsinki.
Here are a few photos from our adventure this past weekend in Tallinn, Estonia (click on photos for a larger image):
We really enjoyed our latest Red Pin Adventure to Tallinn, Estonia this past weekend and can now cross it off our Travel Bucket List:
What an exciting time to arrive in Finland! We were very excited to be able to experience The Tall Ships Races right here in the neighborhood that we just moved to!
Over 100 vessels were here this weekend for the races which began on July 17th and continued until July 20th. The event ended with the Parade of Sails, when the ships go onto the next Tall Ships Races location, the Port of Riga, Latvia. The races will later end in Szczecin, Poland the first week of August, 2013.
We enjoyed viewing all of the beautiful ships on Thursday, July 17th after they were all docked:
The highlight of the event was watching the departure of all of the beautiful ships during the Parade of Sails event on Saturday, July 20th:
We were a little sad to have to say goodbye to all of the ships. What an amazing experience it was to see so many beautiful vessels in one weekend/location:
For more information on this event, please visit:
Mia and I were finally able to see where her daddy has been working since November. We had a great time visiting the office on Friday and meeting some of his co-workers. Many were on their summer holiday, so we will try to visit again after the summer is over. Mia thought that her daddy’s office was a very cool place to work!!
We decided to take our first journey on the train today and made it downtown. We celebrated the 4th of July at the Hard Rock Cafe Helsinki. They were giving 20% off to anyone from the U.S.A. today!
We also went across the street to check out their big department store called Stockmann. It was really nice and we ran into a reindeer!
We arrived safely in Helsinki late Saturday afternoon, and have been busy unpacking and exploring all of the different areas around us. After the first day, we knew we needed to find Mia something to help her get around. We have been doing so much walking, so we found her a cute little scooter to easily keep up with us. She is really getting around great now and having a lot of fun with it!
The time zone difference (7 hours ahead of Orlando) has really been tough on us these first couple of days. It is also daylight out most of the time. The sun set on our first night around 11:00 p.m. and then sunrise was at 3:58 a.m.!!! We have to wear sleep masks just to try to keep some of the light out to sleep (we have blackout shades on some of the windows too). On our second night, we were wide awake from 2 a.m. to around 6 a.m. We went out for a walk/scooter ride at 3 a.m. and made it over to Mia’s school so she could see it. Not one soul was out! I was a little surprised since this is the capital city of Finland! We have been here for almost 4 days now, and I have yet to see a police car or officer and have not heard any sirens from ambulance or police. Seems very strange for a big city. I heard at least two or three a day in Central Florida! It is certainly a nice peaceful change. It is also refreshing to see so many people out with their families, walking their dogs, bike riding, and just simply enjoying this beautiful weather!
Danny was back to work Monday morning and we start to look at new places tomorrow. However, we are really enjoying the simplicity of going from a 4 bedroom home to a cute little studio apartment with a view of the beautiful canal…. Not sure if we really need a little bigger place anymore! We’ll see how tomorrow goes. 🙂
Here we go!!!! We are finally all packed and ready to go! Moving to Finland in less than 20 hours!!!! Our master bedroom turned into packing central this past week. Only moving with suitcases and donated about 3/4 of all of our belongings to various charities and friends in need. Whew…. It feels great to simplify our lives and we are now ready for our adventure in Europe!! We will miss you all!! ♥
The big day is almost here… We will be flying to Finland tomorrow!!! It has been a very busy week getting everything packed, but we are looking forward to starting our new adventure! I am finally posting the photos from our trip back to my homeland. It was an amazing experience and also a very emotional one. It was so nice to see all of our family in Japan after so many years and also to meet many of them who were not born until after we moved away. I had forgotten how beautiful it was… It felt like we were in paradise!!