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The Travel Edition for Iceland and Finland

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

For immediate pictures, look at my twitter feed or the Husband’s twitter feed.

Travel: Iceland
After Worldcon, I had all of 36 hours to get ready for 2.5 weeks in Iceland, then Finland. I have to say to everyone going to Worldcon75 in Helsinki in 2017, if you can, get a layover in Iceland and experience its natural beauty. It will be worth it. It will also ease you into the time difference.

I went to Iceland for a wedding. It was a beautiful Norse wedding in a lava tube. Sheena and Todd looked wonderful and I enjoy participating. Though, I did fall in the mud. That led to the discovery of the Icelandic phrase, “Fall er fararheill,” which basically means “Falling at a journey's start brings luck for the journey.” Thus, I have ensured good karma for their wedding. So, that’s good.

Iceland. It’s a science nerd’s paradise. The geothermal power plant was so good. Science! Renewable resources! Waterfalls. So many waterfalls. So much hiking. My poor knees. Geysers! Regularly bursting geysers. Glaciers! OMG… we went inside the glacier and that was amazing. The northern lights! We finally saw them on our last night in Iceland. It was a pale green paint swipe across the sky. Icelandic horses! Todd calls them “shaggy little ponies,” but they are smaller horses that are wonderful to interact with. And the spa. My… it was so good on my aching body. We also enjoyed the heck out of a Saga museum and the comedic “Icelandic Sagas” show at the Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik.

Side note: Just about everywhere we went was ADA compliant. It was refreshing to see.

New foods eaten: puffin, wolf fish

Travel: Helsinki
After a week in Iceland, the Husband and I flew to Finland where I was one of the Guests of Honor for Tracon. The convention flew us out early and allowed us to sightsee all over Helsinki, to Tampere.

The food was to die for. We went to Juuri for a tasting menu where I tried all manner of interesting meat. We visited Fort Suomenlinna and ate at the brewery there. Also might fine cuisine. Saslik is another highly recommended restaurant in Helsinki. Russian themed and fab. We were in Helsinki for two days and were spoiled rotten while we were there. Next up was a road trip to Tampere and Tracon.

Note: While all the bathrooms are ADA compliant, there are a lot of old buildings with stairs only. Helsinki is a walking town. It is easier to walk 1-2 kilometers than to try to drive.

New foods eaten: duck liver, pheasant, reindeer, and bear.

Travel: Tracon
On the way down to Tampere, we stopped at some interesting sights—all of which I recommend if you are going to spend a couple of weeks around Finland when you come to Worldcon.

Hameen linna (Hame Castle) was a huge brick fortress with a museum inside. We got to see the Heavy Metal exhibit. It won’t be around at Worldcon but I’m sure something else fab will replace it. We also visited the Iittala Glass Factory. That was really cool to see. There were a good dozen glass blowers all working at one time. There was a chocolate store, in the same area, but I don’t remember its name. You can watch them make the chocolate. It’s good stuff.

In Tampere, I was put up in a huge dark tower of a hotel with a beautiful view of the city. Again, downtown Tampere is like Helsinki: easier to walk around than drive and filled with historical buildings that have lots of stairs. Tampere is the center of Finland’s feminist movement. There is a historic wool museum to that point. Surprisingly, there was also a Lenin museum that included Stalin’s death mask. The local amusement park has a planetarium, an aquarium, and a Space Needle-like tower.

As an aside: I had a strange auditory hallucination while in the planetarium. Rupert Grint (Ron of Harry Potter fame) narrated the planetarium show. 4 times in the show, I heard a woman’s soft voice whisper in my left ear: “Mother says it’s time to sleep.” “Dive down deep.” “Please.” and “Believe.” It was very odd and I can’t explain it, but you can be sure I’m going to use it in a story sometime in the future.

Just before the convention, I got to go to a “Viking’s dinner” at Harald with the convention chair, the communications person, and my handlers. This was quite the feast and I’ve tasted stuff I’ve never tasted before. Highly recommended.

Now, Tracon. This was a spectacular convention focused on gaming, LARPing, cosplay, and costumes. It was a treat for the eyes. My “editor-author relationship” panel was full, but my “How to make the ordinary terrifying” panel was standing room only. I think it was my biggest solo panel to date. Both went off without a problem. They gave me a wireless mic, so I was all over the room. I hope it recorded well.

Also, I got to experience the Maid Café, watch some of the costume contest, and was interviewed for the streaming event. I have no idea if any of it is available to watch. I’ll post links when I get them. There was also a Project Isthmus sponsored Ingress event, but I’ll write about that in another post. Suffice it to say that it was a success and has inspired the locals to start up their own First Saturday x-fac events.

If you ever get a chance to go to Tracon as a guest or attendee, do it. You won’t regret it. Tracon treated me like royalty and I had the best damned handlers a GoH could have. There was nothing they couldn’t get done for me.

New foods eaten: blood sausage, duck heart, horse, elk, and tar ice cream.

Eventually, pictures to everything will be uploaded to Facebook and I will link those in this blog.

Travel: Adventure
Now, there is no travel without some unexpected adventure. Both were the Husband’s fault this time. He did both just as we were leaving each country.

Iceland: We are about to leave Iceland for Finland. We are gathering up our things and the Husband can’t find his wallet. He’s looked everywhere. We begin to take apart out bags just in case. We empty and repack 3 of the 4 bags. The fourth wasn’t opened because it had not been opened at all. We are at our wits end. I’m sure the wallet was stolen.

We’re about to fly to another country and I am figuring out what we need to do to cancel credit cards and such. I point at his belt, left on the bed and ask him to put it away. He unzips one of the pockets of the suitcase we JUST emptied… and there is his wallet. I literally gasped.

We couldn’t stop laughing as relief filled us and the Husband got the adrenaline shakes.

Finland: We’ve left Finland. We’ve just arrived in Iceland at our hotel for the one night layover before we head home. We are both exhausted. I’m looking at my phone. Jeff is behind me. He mutters, “I can’t fucking believe I just did that.” He doesn’t curse usually. I immediately think he’s lost his wallet again, and ask, “What did you do?”

“I left both of our laptops at security in Helsinki…”

I freak the hell out. There is no other way to put it. I mean rocking back and forth, covering my face, saying, “No! No! No!” over and over. This knocks him out of his panic. (Marriage rule: only one of us is allowed to panic at a time.) He immediately starts calling Helsinki.

After I get myself under control, I think to contact my handlers. To this point, there is nothing Tiina and Meeri can’t do. If it can be done in Finland, they will get it done. Tiina gets in touch with Meeri. Meeri starts looking into things. Jeff discovered the Lost and Found is closed (3 hour difference), and files a report.

First thing in the morning, (while Tiina is having eye surgery…) Meeri is at the airport, identifying our laptops. Within an hour, she has them, and a FedEx confirmation number. We are all so relieved. You see, I have hours and hours of research for my forthcoming YA series on that laptop that isn’t on my desktop because I did it while at Worldcon. I also have the two page synopsis of the first book in the series and the one paragraph summary of the second book. I have so much of the world done… and none of it is in Dropbox because I figured I’d just upload it when I got home.

Thursday. That’s when they arrive. Tomorrow. And I will be so happy to have them back.