I had the awesome pleasure of getting to join a group of fellow travelers and adventurers through the Monsoon Diaries. I fondly refer to them as the "framily". I met up with the framily in Helsinki, Finland on what was the end of half of their trip through Scandinavia and the Baltics. We had a short but fabulous time together. One of the memorable adventures we had together was to Soumenlinna Island. Soumenlinna was an old Finnish fortress that had been used to try to combat the Russians many years ago. Today, the island is a popular site for tourists and locals alike. There are spots for relaxing, a beach, places to have picnics, cute cafes and museums.
This album chronicles some of our adventures, including my getting lost from the tribe in the Shire but fortuitously rejoining them upon departure from the island.
To get to and from Soumenlinna, one needs a boat...or should be a very, very strong long distance swimmer. There are ferries that leave Market Square in Helsinki proper regularly, and it is only 15 minutes from there to the island.
The word, beatitude, has its origin from the Latin word for happiness. Many years ago, Jesus spoke to a crowd in Galilee about the beatitudes, and this speech or sermon became known as the Sermon on the Mount. Presently, there is a church that claims to be built on the very location that Jesus held his sermon.
I was able to join my bestie and her colleagues on a day trip to Galilee (or Kinneret), Tiberius and a Baha'i site. Whilst in the area, we visited the Church of Beatitudes and swam in the Sea of Galilee (a.k.a. Kinneret, Lake of Gennesaret or Lake Tiberias). It was hot (>35C) but the water was welcoming. In true wonderful Israeli style, some folks were perched on plastic chairs in the shallow water and others enjoyed the comfort of rafts (read here: air mattresses). It was a fabulous time.
Here are some pictures of the day trip. In those swimming photos (sample below), there is a lone raft as its occupants were tipped over by the waves.
Hippos are one of the world's deadliest animals. It never ceases to amaze and petrify me when the hippo boat tour guides here in Kisumu purposefully navigate their relatively small wooden boats TOWARDS the hippos. The last time I went for the boat ride, the guides had us maneuvering around and through a herd(?) of hippos in the water, including a protective mama hippo! I was petrified, but I got some awesome photos. Long story short, I survived. In case you were wondering, I totally have several exit/escape strategies for hippo attacks in and out of the water. Yes, they are that versatile that they wreak havoc in the water and on land!
Lastly, as many of you know, I really appreciate, dare I say -- love -- tea. The highlight of my life/this trip was a visit to a tea estate in Kericho. Per usual, I dozed off in the front seat of the safari van but was wide awake and in great form for the entire visit to the tea estate. Kericho is always lush and the estate we visited was massive (one super massive estate with nine massive sub-estates) and absolutely gorgeous. One of my students loves tea as much as I do. He and I were among the first taste testers and constantly asked our guide about job opportunities at the estate. My student was offered a taste testing position...I just got a chuckle :-/. After seeing the entire process of making tea as we know it -- from the field to the factory to the store -- my appreciation has shifted to include admiration for the thought and efforts that go towards the process. It is a tedious and labor intensive process at all levels. I would be happy to provide details/talk about it (over a cup of tea), if any of you are interested. For now, I hope you enjoy the pictures.
You know what I love more than tea, though? McVittie's biscuits AND tea! I need to get a tour at McVittie's at some point down the road...I would love for you to join me!
Originally written 22 June 2014.
I am like a breeze -- you can find me...