Finland - December 24, 2009

Hi everyone.  Some of you may remember my long rambling emails from my trip to India last year.  Since I'm sitting around in the airport (something I've become an expert in over the last few days) and since it's Christmas Eve today and I'm on my own, I thought I'd start the first of what I'm sure will be a few rambling emails about my trip to Scotland and Finland.

It was great to spend a week in Scotland and catch up with old friends.  We all met up in St. Andrews to attend the wedding of our good friends Cat and Kev.  I lived with both of them for all 4 years of Uni and it was fantastic to have the whole gang back together again.  We rented a gorgeous flat right in the center of town.  The wedding was in St. Salvator's Chapel.  It is the University Chapel and was built around 1410.  It's an amazing setting for a wedding and brings back many happy memories for me, including my brother's wedding that was held there just after my graduation in 2001.  It's incredible to think that it's been 8 1/2 years since we left Uni.  I really don´t feel any different than I did back then, although after spending Sunday afternoon in the pub watching football (soccer for us yanks), I will say that I have grown out of the stage where I am willing to pretend I enjoy watching sports on the tele, especially really boring sports like football.  Apart from the fact that some of my friends are now married and a few are starting to have kids, everyone still seemed pretty much the same.
Getting to Finland has been a huge challenge.  It's a good thing I am a laid back, easy going person with tons of patience...otherwise I would have gone postal by now.  Originally I was supposed to leave for Helsinki on the 22nd at 5:55am.  I got to the airport nice and early, only to discover that the flights through Amsterdam were cancelled due to weather.  They re-routed me through London and I proceeded to wait 7 hours in the airport to check in for my flight. When I went to check in, I was told the flights to London were cancelled due to weather again.  I then went back to Edinburgh and spent the rest of the day in an internet cafe trying to save my trip to Lappland.  Thank god I bought travel insurance.  Granted, I did it because I was worried I'd get malaria in Liberia and have to cancel the trip all together, but in the end it is going to save me close to $1,000 and I'm only missing out on one night in Lappland.
My new flight was departing Edinburgh at 3:30 on the 23rd.  Of course, it was almost an hour late leaving, which meant I had less than an hour in Heathrow to switch terminals and get through security.  I have never run so fast in my entire life.  Thankfully I made it in the nick of time.  I knew my bag wasn't going to make it and am really happy I thought ahead and packed all my arctic gear in my carry-on.  The only bad thing is that running at high speeds in snow boots rated for -40 degrees and wearing multiple layers meant that my clothes were all drenched in sweat and joyfully I get to wear them for the next 3 days because my bag won't make it to Lappland until at least the 26th.  I bought a t-shirt in the airport this morning (for £25 which is like $50!! Thank god again for travel insurance) and now I get to be that loser tourist who will be wearing a souvenir t-shirt to what is supposed to be a semi-formal Christmas Eve dinner tonight. Oh well, maybe Santa will take pity on my and bring me something nice.  I got to the hotel about 1am last night and have been back at the airport since 9am this morning.  I must say I am thoroughly sick of airports and I am looking forward to a good night's sleep.
Well, my plane to Lappland is about to board. If you've gotten this far, thanks for reading.
Merry Christmas!!