Midsummer in Iceland via Finland

Today we are thinking of the real blueberry juice and staying home

First things first, the blueberry juice! Some here in AFF have taken liking to the blueberry juice served on AY flights. In fact, the only thing guaranteed on the AY flights are free water & juice, even on short flights. But what they offer is merely a highly diluted version. It's like drinking cordial. If you want the real deal, you head to a grocery store and look for 'mustikkakeitto' (blueberry soup) in the chilled juices section. It's a lot thicker and has traces of blueberry seeds (used to have plenty but they've "shrinkflated" that recently). It comes in 1L and 250 ml packs.

The one on the left is the original product. The other one is sugar-free ('sokeroimaton') but the flavour of sweeteners pushes through so I'd recommend the left one. Notice also the bilingual packs: 'mustikka' in Finnish and 'blåbär' in Swedish.
15 Blueberry soups.jpg

The glassware used in the AY J cabin you can find in Iittala stores. They have various sizes, including 5 cl shot glasses for your 'Salmiakkikossu' (a Finnish liquor with salted liquorice in vodka; be warned, it can be highly addictive; best served chilled, I keep mine in the freezer at home).

My parents had these as everyday drinking glasses when I was a kid. I didn't like them at all but had no clue back then of good design, value of items, etc. Fast forward a few decades and they are in vogue.
15 Iittala glassware.jpg

One thing Finland does intensely is research in functional foods. All kinds of protein alternatives were mainstream 10-15 years ago and berries have been valued for long. Among things I'm bringing home are these packs of crushed linseed & cranberry and other combos: all kinds of minerals, 37% of fiber, all-around health and goodness. Some dried berry powders will also follow me (sea buckthorn, lingonberry and blueberry have become my favourites).
15 Linseed crush.jpg

HOME FRONT

A sneak peek into aspects nearly every Finnish house has in one form or another. I am blessed by a family member offering me a place to stay in their home. This then provides me an opportunity to share a few aspects on how Finnish (and Scandinavian, overall) homes differ from Australian.

Dish drying cupboard. This is a must in Finland, every home has this! The idea is that whatever you wash by hand, you'll put them in here to dry. Usually plates, pots & pans, and bigger stuff on the lower shelf, and glasses, mugs, small bowls, etc on the second shelf. Cutlery you can place in a recess at the bottom of the first shelf or have a separate holder for them. Then you close the door to keep the kitchen looking nice and neat, and let it all dry there by itself. Notice how the bottom is open and all the water will drip straight back into the sink.

This one is a little bit messy but if this was mine, it would be for drying only and the storage would happen on the upper shelves and elsewhere.
15 Dish drying cupboard.jpg

"Home care room" (aka 'laundry' in Australia). A side entrance to the house which you use when you, kids, your dog or whatever is muddy, snowy or otherwise dirty. You'll undress or clean the dog here before entering the house proper. This is often connected to the kitchen. On the left, you have the hot water boiler, cupboard for cleaning equipment (vacuum, mop, detergents, etc), clothes drier (a full sized cupboard like this), entry to the shower room & sauna, and at the end a door out (hidden there). On the right, laundry care and heaps of storage space for all kinds of home care stuff.

This kind of a room is typical for houses built in the last 30-40 years. Some town houses have this, as well, but in apartments this would be difficult to arrange.
15 Laundry.jpg

Entry. The direct translation from Finnish would be 'wind closet'. The idea is to keep this closed. When you enter the house, you come in through the front door, leave your shoes here (my brother keeps their jackets here, too), then you open the inner door and enter the house. This keeps the wet, snow and mud away from the living spaces. This is common in houses and town houses. The size of this one is about 2 * 1.6 m. In apartments, you enter the clothes rack & shoe storage / entry space, hang your outdoors clothes there and then continue to the living quarters.

Absolutely no walking shoes on beyond these spaces! It'd be a blasphemy unless you are specifically invited to keep your shoes on (even on a nice, dry summer day). When my friends come over to my place in Sydney, they already know to take their shoes off before we even start talking (and plenty of bonus points to those who also wash their hands automatically).
15 House entry.jpg

Kitchen layout. You notice two things: window over the counter and plenty of cupboard space. While Australian kitchens have the sink placed by the window (and I'm still baffled by it), Scandi kitchens usually have the sink on the side and by the window you either have a dining table or counter space (like here). In apartments, it's typically the dining.

You'll also notice the abundance of cupboard space. I've lived in three houses and three apartments in Australia and have had only one decently designed kitchen with ample space. One day again, one day...

The fridge is on my right, dining behind. In the lower left corner next to the oven, you see a tiny part of a tower of five containers for sorting the recyclables (plus cardboard separately as the sixth stream). They are emptied at a collection point by the local supermarket. The "home care room" is on the left. But where's the "red bin", you may ask? Always under the sink.
15 Kitchen.jpg

In the next episode, we head out to a supermarket.
 

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A question about shoes please. Do you go barefoot/socks inside or use slippers? I go to Korea where they always leave outside shoes in the lobby area but always put on "house scuffs" with barefoot considered inappropriate.
 
Loving the TR and the detail, thanks.

After I once returned from an AY flight and raved about the Iittala glassware, when my friends went there several years later, they brought me a Iittala bowl as a present! I must have made an impression :)

While Australian kitchens have the sink placed by the window (and I'm still baffled by it),

Possibly a hang over from the 'old days' when the lady of the house (inevitably) would spend time at the sink washing the dishes or chopping things on the drainage rack and could keep an eye on the kids in the backyard. I don't think many modern houses have the sink there.

I went through the 'shoes off at the door' thing in Japan recently - not good for my poor old arthritic feet!!
 
Possibly a hang over from the 'old days' when the lady of the house (inevitably) would spend time at the sink washing the dishes or chopping things on the drainage rack and could keep an eye on the kids in the backyard. I don't think many modern houses have the sink there.

I went through the 'shoes off at the door' thing in Japan recently - not good for my poor old arthritic feet!!
i know many people don't wash dishes in the sink anymore, but I still do. I like to be able to look out the window and watch what's going on. Pretty sure I wouldn't want to be headbutting a cupboard.
 
Very interesting TR thanks

I wear orthotics and if I had to walk around all day in socks I'd be in so much pain by the end of the day
 
A question about shoes please. Do you go barefoot/socks inside or use slippers? I go to Korea where they always leave outside shoes in the lobby area but always put on "house scuffs" with barefoot considered inappropriate.
Yes, socks on usually, especially at winter time. Barefeet are acceptable because feet are not considered a particularly dirty part of the body.

Especially older people wear slippers. My dad has worn classic brown ones from this collection for ages now. They were in fashion 40 years ago and older people still favour them. My mum has pretty pink slippers with raised heals.

Similar to some East-Asian cultures, if you want to wear footwear indoors, it's always a dedicated indoors pair which, of course, would never be worn outdoors.
 
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i know many people don't wash dishes in the sink anymore, but I still do. I like to be able to look out the window and watch what's going on. Pretty sure I wouldn't want to be headbutting a cupboard.
Of the houses I lived in, one sink faced the car port, two faced the side fences. Rather unexciting views. 🤭 I'd understand the ability to watch out if there had been something to see.

Of the apartments, the oldest one had a view to the roof of the neighbouring building and the last two have had open plan kitchens at the back of the living room. In my current one, the sink is in the island / counter separating the living space from the kitchen area so technically I still face a window, albeit quite a distance away.

The earlier photo was wide-angle and distorted the measures a little. The counters are 60 cm deep and the cupboards above only 30 cm deep. This sort of arrangement is common place. This means that there's more than enough room to bend down a little before your head touches the cupboard. Though, on lazy days, I've used it to my advantage by leaning forward and resting my head on the cupboard door while washing (though, my dear brother chucks everything in their dishwasher so not much handwash at their place).
The Australian setups I've come across with cupboards above are measured differently and more awkward in this regard. Different use of space...

To better show the alignment, I've taken a normal photo the other way and placed the outer edges of the dishwash detergent, toaster & kettle and the olive oil behind the stove top to match the upper cupboards (30 cm from the wall). This hopefully illustrates the setup better.
15 Kitchen cupboard alignment.jpg
 
Yes, socks on usually, especially at winter time. Barefeet are acceptable because feet are not considered a particularly dirty part of the body.

Especially older people wear slippers. My dad has worn classic brown ones from this collection for ages now. They were in fashion 40 years ago and older people still favour them. My mum has pretty pink slippers with raised heals.

Similar to some East-Asian cultures, if you want to wear footwear indoors, it's always a dedicated indoors pair which, of course, would never be worn outdoors.
Thank you. Do people ever carry there own house slippers with them?
 
No dinner provided

Following the discussion about bringing your own slippers, a custom that features on "strange habits in other countries" lists is excluding other kids from family meals.

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See that lonely boy in the background. He's waiting for us to finish dinner so that his friend is freed up to come out and play. It's very common to not invite other kids to join the family while they eat. I've been in the same situation many times over, waiting outside or in my friend's room. "I'll eat fast and will be back soon" is etched into my backbone.

This comes from an austerity mentality where each family tries to guarantee food for themselves, be prudent in how much is cooked and there's not much to go around. A famine in the 1860's, civil war in 1910's, wars in 1940's and the resulting war reparations and austerity has shaped this thinking which still prevails. The same attitude, though to a lesser degree, can be seen also in the Scandinavian countries.

We can - and should - talk whether this is right. I'd suggest that in the modern times this habit is outdated. Families usually have more than enough to share something to others, too. Even if they had cooked a precise amount servings, there'd be something to give to friends.

Adults usually don't show up unannounced to ask you out. You'd know to prepare for them so a different ballgame. Even if you suddenly rocked up for a visit, you'd be offered at least some coffee and biscuits or whatever is available.
 
If kid asked parents the day before or the morning of the meal if friend could join, would the answer usually still be ei ?

Is the custom lessening with younger generations?
 
If kid asked parents the day before or the morning of the meal if friend could join, would the answer usually still be ei ?

Is the custom lessening with younger generations?
If the friend was over all day, then sure, they'd be included in the family meals. But if it's a short visit, it would vary. Most families would usually ask if the friend wants to eat, as well, or are they expected back home for a meal.

I need to ask around about the young generations. Back soon...
 
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No dinner for friends among the younger generation? I did a quick straw poll with couple of parents with 8-10 year old kids and a couple of slightly older parents.

If it is easy and convenient, and there's just one friend who's well known and a good friend to your kid, then sure, they'll be offered a meal. But if you hadn't prepared for it and it won't be straightforward to expand the meals to feed an extra mouth, then it'd be a no. This would especially apply to single parents who might have purchased and cooked for the core family only.

Overall, it sounds like the custom is softening and is more like 50/50 now. It's still perfectly OK to not feed other kids but many families are adopting the habit of offering a meal at least to the closest friends.
 
Thank you very much for sharing these cultural insights. It’s something we inevitably miss when visiting as tourists and I find it really fascinating to understand a little of how things work in the places I visit or might visit one day.
 
I'm glad if some of the little local tidbits add to your reading. And many thanks for the other encouragement, as well!

As usual with travels, I'm now three (?) posts behind. Time flies and activities & recharging take their share. I've got the photos ("no photo, didn't happen..." ;) ), just need a personal assistant to comb through them and write...
 
I'm glad if some of the little local tidbits add to your reading. And many thanks for the other encouragement, as well!

As usual with travels, I'm now three (?) posts behind. Time flies and activities & recharging take their share. I've got the photos ("no photo, didn't happen..." ;) ), just need a personal assistant to comb through them and write...
Ask AI to write your trip report chapter based on your photos and some directional prompts.…..
 
Ask AI to write your trip report chapter based on your photos and some directional prompts.…..
Tempting but my short answer would be 'I appreciate the helpful suggestion but still no thanks'

I like the current ChatGPT and have also used Google Gemini many times over. They are marvellous tools, especially when you want to synthesise data. Gemini does also impressive job in writing. But I want to write my own text, warts & typos & grammar errors and all. Only then it's real.

I've now hopped over to Iceland, walked on a glacier and paddled among icebergs. Amazing experiences which will take a while to write out.
 
Still here but laying low for the moment.

Iceland was well worth the trip. My first recommendation is to start your time in Reykjavik by visiting The Settlement Exhibition. It gives you a great primer on the development of the area and the city since early settlement era and allows you to appreciate the city more. This was our last activity, an ad hoc, and I wish we had done it at the start.

The highlight for me was Jokursarlon Lagoon. We did a glacier walk with a visit to an ice cave, and kayaking. Kayaking was very cool. However, I heard that the same company runs better tours a little farther away in Heinabergslón. The difference is that the icebergs in Jokursarlon may capsize without notice and being more volatile, the tours stay some distance away from them. But in Heinabergslón they are more stable and the tours can often land & climb on an iceberg.

Blue ice is a sign of clean, fresh ice which has been inside a glacier or under snow or water. Once it's out in the open, it starts to react to the air around and turn into white. On top of that, there's plenty of volcanic ash to go around over there which then brings the black layers.

20 Jokursarlon ice bergs.jpg

I'm back in Finland for one more night. But the time goes in resting myself into a shape which tolerates the longer legs back home at the back of the bus from tomorrow. Both my son and me picked up covid from Iceland, a very unwanted souvenir, and I hope I can ride it out with the earlier vaccinations and enough paracetamol.
 

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