Our group was part of the closing concert at the Vaasa Choir Festival this afternoon. We were joined by the Japanese ladies choir, a quintet from Sweden, a local Finnish Choir, Realtime and the Russian Girls. It was a packed house and the audience was great! It was a fun and very enjoyable way to conclude the Festival. We met to board a bus at 6:00 and traveled about an hour to the summer cottage of the long time organizer of the Vaasa Festival, Errik and his wife Barbara. Their property is in the woods and right on the Baltic Sea (Gulf of Finland). It doesn't seem like the sea, more like a lake with a rickety boat dock on the water
. We learned that the Baltic Sea has less salt than any other in the world. The tides at this place are very minimal. Errik and Barbara have had the place for 25 years, starting with one place then building another place just a bit larger than the first. They have a great deck close to the water. They had lots of beer and vodka, a hockey game on the tube and a place for whomever to sing so we were all pretty happy. The air was cool and it was cloudy unlike the previous day. Most had come prepared with warm clothes and some stayed in the one cabin all the time. It had a rustic living room, a simple kitchen and a bedroom.
Errik had built a sauna as a separate building some years ago. The fins pronounce the word sa-oo-na with the accent on the "oo". They say that there are enough saunas in Finland for every man, woman and child to be in a sauna at the same time so obviously sauna-ing is a big deal for all Finns and most living quarters have a public or private sauna. Errik's sauna was the real deal where you could experience the whole enchilada. Markku had brought a big bag of towels from the hotel so we could experience the sauna. Unfortunately for many, they didn't get the chance. Doug, Markku and I were the first in the sauna. The entrance faced the water and had a small covered seating area for 2 or maybe 3 people just outside the door. Inside there was a dressing area and beyond that, the sauna
. Doug, who married the Finnish girl, said that when he did sauna with his in-laws for the first time he had his swim suit on. His father-in-law pointed to a nail and said to put his suit there and never use it again in the sauna. So, the 3 of us were in the buff sitting on the nice wood bench. The sauna was all heated up when we got there by Errik. He had a bucket of water there and a ladle. The stove was wood fired with some exposed brick-like stones to retain the heat. Doug splashed a bit of water on the rocks and wow then you really felt the heat. We had a great conversation (what is said in a sauna stays in the sauna). We were really heated up and sweating. Doug said they used to hold a contest somewhere in Finland where they would have a contest to see who could last the longest. Some guy died recently in the contest and that was that, no more contest. We wrapped the towel around our waist and went outside to the seating area. It was very refreshing. More chit chat while the body cooled down before we reentered for some more heat. We got heated once more and then Doug and I ran off the end of the dock into the shallow water. It was pretty cold water but it felt great to us. We didn't stay in too long and we wrapped back up and either went back to the sauna or got dressed. Linda said she had never been so embarrassed in her life. I guess we had made quite a scene as well as a splash. Three ladies took over the sauna next, less the splash in the pond. They were followed by the 3 young guys, Drew, Hunter and Josh
. Of course they did the splash. I took their picture and took their towels for a while too.
Erikk had caught a bunch of perch and filleted them for us. Barbara served us fish, with chopped dill, bread, cukes, tomatoes, cheese, etc. They also barbecued some sausages and we ate till we were full. The bus driver came and we were all sorry we had to leave. What wonderful and gracious hosts. What a tremendous and unforgettable way to conclude our Vaasa experience.
I didn't get to bed til very late last night trying to keep up with this blog. Between lack of internet service and a seemingly very slow process it just doesn't happen quick enough. My kids would say it is just me and they probably hit the nail on the head.