Our Last Blog entry for our European vacation
29.06.2016 - 29.06.2016 24 °C
Our last blog entry for our European vacation.
Wednesday June 29th we got up and got ourselves organized, had lunch and headed to the airport where we turned in our Skoda Fabia.
We got checked in to Iceland Air for our first two legs of our journey back to Canada.
Both flights left the airport late which meant that when we deplaned from the first flight the second flight was already loading. We were pretty stressed as we needed to go through a passport control but luckily there was a special line for Canadians and United Kingdom passport holders. We got through that pretty fast and walked with all speed possible to our departure lounge. We were among the last six people boarding the plane.
Then the plane sat on the tarmac for at least another 1/2 hour so who knows if we could have still made the flight if we had taken the time to find a washroom.
We arrived safely in Toronto and went through all the steps through customs despite the fact that all of the self-clearing kiosks for passport control were out of order, so we had to stand in the big long line and then go through customs and then claim our luggage and find the Air Canada check-in, which is another gong show even if you use their self check-in kiosks, as you then have to get in the big long line to baggage drop-off. We survived. Just go to your happy place and all will be well. We had a few minutes to browse the shops and sit to catch our breath before our flight was called for boarding. We got home a few minutes early even after all that. We arrived home 25 hours after we got up on Wednesday morning. We had sunshine most of the day as we followed the sun west across the earth. We changed our watches back 9 hours during the trip.
We got our luggage unpacked, brushed our teeth and collapsed into bed.
We still woke up at 7 AM which is our habit. We spent the day dealing with banking and shopping and yard work. We got a chance to speak with our neighbours and let them know we were OK and to catch up on what was going on with their lives. We also had a chance to talk with grandchildren and siblings.
Our niece and nephew had explained to us about the white bear looking character that children in Finland love. There is a series of books written by Tove Jannson which is very popular with Finnish families. You can buy these books in English as well. You can also buy almost anything with Moomin on it. We thought you all would like to see what Moomin looks like.
We also learned that Finnish women (our niece said Finnish war brides) invented a dish drying rack which is installed in a cupboard that hangs over your kitchen sink. You wash your dishes and then stack them in this dish drying rack, close the doors and go on with your day. Every place we stayed at in Finland had this feature as well as many other Scandinavian countries. Yeah women!
We have our mail held while we are away and in the past this has worked very well and the day after we get home our mail is there for us. Not this time and the posties are going on strike tomorrow so who knows where our mail is and how long it will take for us to get it. We are not impressed.
As a wrap-up to our trip we thought we would share a few observations.
First you have a green light, then a yellow light and then the red light. Before the green light appears again you will get a red and yellow light at the same time and then the green light. Be ready to go when the red/yellow combination appears as the cars expect to be moving when the green shows up.
You will get a lot of horn-honking in Italy, in particular, but some other countries as well but not in Finland, as it is against the law to use the horn for anything other than warning of approaching harm. We found that all of Scandinavia has much calmer drivers.
There are NO right hand turns on red lights anywhere in Europe so don't even think about it.
There are roundabouts most often instead of traffic lights although there are traffic lights as well. You need to learn which lane to be in to exit on the exit you want. The easy ones only have one lane. You must signal when you reach your exit so the other cars know what you are doing.
Most cities will have a no-traffic zone that you may not drive in even if your GPS sees a road there and insists that you drive there, and if you bypass that street will take you around and try to get you to go there anyway.
There are environmental zones in some cities and you must have your car inspected and have a sticker that says your car is within the environmental specifications.
There are toll roads in many countries. You must purchase a sticker for your car for that country which pays for so many days of tolls or, as in the case of Norway, register on line and Norway takes the tolls from your credit card as you go through those areas.
There are very few parking spots on street, in parking lots or parkades. All parking spots are small. We would need two spots to park the cars we drive at home.
Some parking garages are subterranean.
Cars are all small. If you plan to be in an area with hills and mountains you need to think about the size and power of the motor in that small car or you will be in first gear before you get to the top of the hill or mountain.
Most Europeans, but not all, will have two sets of bedding on each bed meant for two people. Each person gets a bottom sheet, quilt and a pillow. These will both be on the same bed sometimes with separate mattresses or pad type mattresses.
A lot of the stairs in buildings will be circular, which is an added challenge to haul your suitcase up to your room.
There are few buildings with elevators and if there are elevators, except for the newest buildings, they will be very small.
Air conditioning is almost unheard of. So is central heat once the owners of the buildings feel that summer has arrived. We did have some nights of being too hot even with the windows open and some nights we were too cold and we had to wear our clothes to bed.
They have the best windows in most buildings that we were in. No screens on those windows so be prepared for bug bites at night in some areas. We should have such windows in Canada, maybe there are but we have not found them.
You may find a washing machine in your accommodation if you are staying in a vacation rental but almost never a dryer. You need to dry your clothes on racks placed out one of your windows. We found that tracking down a rare laundromat was the best way to go.
Bidets are in every bathroom in Italy. Sometimes found in other countries but for sure in Italy.
Men wear what we would call capris or clam diggers or pedal pushers. They look very casual but we are unfamiliar with that as we are used to men in pants or shorts.
Women wear scarves a lot. Sometimes for warmth and sometimes as an accessory. There are thousands of them for sale particularily in market stalls.
It was a great introduction to Europe, a great 90 days but we are still happy to be home.