Yesterday morning, Oiva and I rode bicycles into the town of Oulu. Oiva's daughter Milla and her boyfriend Samppa live in a new development north of downtown Oulu, so we rode about 7 km each way, part of it along the Oulu River. We visited the Oulu Art Museum and saw, among other displays, an exhibit called the Northern Cities Project, in which seven photographers visited the urban areas of small towns in the northern portions of Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia for about 10 days at a time. They each took hundreds of photographs, from which the best were selected for the exhibit. Some were quite disturbing--for example, troubled teens with drug problems (exacerbated, I'm sure, by the very long, cold winters). Oiva thought most were very touching and moving photographs of the serious nature of living in the North. He described the photographs as being worth 10,000 words rather than, as the cliche says, 1,000 words.
After the museum we visited the Market Center and had a smoked salmon tart and Greek type of eggroll with reindeer meat inside. We wandered through the town and found a photo shop to charge our camera batteries--somehow we forgot to bring a converter for US and Mexico 110 volts to European 220 volts.
We rode our bicycles back home in the afternoon and took Milla and Samppa to dinner at a wonderful restaurant in the town of Oulu. I had turkey with roasted garlic and chocolate mousse for dessert. We're eating well on this trip but getting lots of exercise walking and bike-riding and running some mornings as well, so our clothes still fit fairly well.
We rode into town once again this morning to the camera shop to pick up the batteries, then Oiva's ex-in-laws Veikko and Liisa drove 3 hours round-trip to Milla's and Samppa's to visit him this afternoon. It's been 20 years since he has seen them! They live in central Finland and, like many Finnish people in central and northern Finland, hunt a moose (or reindeer) every year for winter food. When the Finnish have visitors, everyone sits at the dining room table for coffee and something sweet, so we had coffee and a raspberry and cream cheese coffeecake. After they left, we drove to town and visited one of the local museums depicting 400 years of history in and around Oulu. The town was nearly destroyed by a fire early this century but has recovered well.
Back home, we had ground reindeer stew with ligonberries (sort of like cranberries), and cloudberries for dessert, a very northern Finnish meal. Cloudberries (Rubus chamaemorus) are famous in northern Finland and natives as well as tourists heartily crave them and collect them when they're ripe. They're orange in color (see http://www.chem.ucla.edu/~alice/explorations/churchill/cloudb.htm) and reminscent of a raspberry with oversized sections, each section with a seeds about four times as large as those in a raspberry. I wasn't impressed -- they didn't have much of a taste and seemed to be mostly seed.
The next day we visited an outdoor museum near Oulu, located on a small island north of town. There's a boat you can take from the town of Oulu up the Oulu River, or you can drive down a dirt road, then walk across a bridge (which we did since Oiva wanted to get back to Milla's in time to watch the Formula One race on TV at 3 pm). The museum consisted of buildings preserved from a community living in the 1600's and 1700's with an economy centered around tar production. Pine trees are harvested and the logs are arranged into a large circular pile over a pit then burned, and the pine tar drips down and is collected in the pit below.