by Bob Sparrow
Typically any place after St. Petersburg would be a let down, and the people who we’d talk to who had been to Helsinki said there really wasn’t a lot to do at this stop. But we had a special reunion planned.
When our daughter, Dana was not quite two years old, we had a live-in au pair (babysitter) from Finland, named Mira, who was about 20 at the time and attending near-by Chapman College. When I wrote my blog about Dana’s open-heart surgery two years ago, Mira, who had returned to Finland, read it on Facebook and re-connected with us. After we had booked this cruise, we wrote to her and told her we would be in Helsinki this summer and would love to see her. She responded in kind and set up a meeting for the afternoon we were in port. We disembarked in Helsinki and first took a water ferry to see the island fortress of Suomenlinna and toured there for about two hours. We then came back to Market Square in the town center to meet up with Mira.
She arrived with a big smile on her face and was simply delightful. She brought a couple of pictures of Dana and her from when she was with us in 1984. We spent the afternoon just catching up on what we had each been doing for the last 30 years! She is doing well and lives in a very nice area just blocks from Market Square in mid-town Helsinki with her daughter Nova, who is 14. Nova’s father and Mira separated years ago. Mira had been a professional photographer, but is now working for an ‘electric company’ and is an avid tennis player. Regarding her social life, she said that after living 15 years in the U.S. then returning home, that she found Finnish men a bit wimpy compared to American men, so is not in a serious relationship.
After lunch she walked us through the Esplanade (the main street of Helsinki) and told us about her life in Helsinki and we up-dated her on our family. We stopped by the open market and she said she wanted to buy something for Dana. Linda picked out a Helsinki necklace piece that she really liked and Mira bought one for Dana and one for Linda. She took a cab with us back to the ship and we had a tearful goodbye. It made our trip to Helsinki very special. She promised to come and visit us with her daughter, but said she wants to wait until her daughter, who is an aspiring model, is 18. Mira said that when Nova sees California, she will probably want to stay!
Next: Day 9 Stockholm