“På ferie” (on holiday) is one of the first phrases you learn at Norwegian language school here in Norway and there is a very good reason!  Norwegians love going on holiday – it is Norway’s biggest past time.  Come Summer and practically the whole country shuts down to cater for all the Norwegians taking their Summer vacations.

The Summer season is always made the most of and many Norwegians travel out of country.  It is very popular to go to Sweden or Finland to soak up some rays.  And we are no different!  Every couple of years our family has a reunion/holiday and this time it was in Larsmo, Finland.

Crossing the border into Finland from Norway is very uneventful.  If you blink you will certainly miss it.  In Norway reindeer are on the coastal pastures so it is rare to see them hanging around the roads.  However, as soon as you go into Finland reindeer are everywhere.  They love the grasses by the road.  They don’t seem to be too bothered by cars as they plod along the road until you beep them off.  They can add a lot of time to your trip.

On the way to Larsmo we stopped off to see Santa and his post office at Rovaniemi.

MacDonalds was the next stop.  Right outside our window all these tourists were taking pictures of us in the restaurant.  Little did we know that we were eating in the most northern MacDonalds in the world.  We must have photo bombed six shots.

Larsmo is a small township on a group of islands in the middle of Finland.  This is one of our family’s holiday spots as this is where Farmor’s side comes from.  We usually rent cabins at a caravan park.  When nothing is happening the family group around Farmor’s cabin and chat til the cows come home.  This year we got to meet our cousins from the USA – Linnea and Alison.  (Hey guys!)

It is a family tradition to wake up early in the morning and take a stroll down to the local baker.  We buy ‘gris’ (meaning ‘pigs’ in Swedish) and we sure make pigs of ourselves with the sugar coated, jam filled square donuts.  (Larsmo is in the Swedish speaking part of Finland.)

We bought one for each of us – so four ‘gris’.  Farmor bought 20!

We also tried a Finnish flat bread made from potato similar to Norwegian lefse.

And Lil’ Red got to try some sand for the first time too.

The days are filled with BBQing…

…and playing games.

With all of us together we have wicked-fun volley ball matches.

It was great to finally meet cousin Wayne and his wife Kristen.  (Avid readers of the blog – thank you guys!)

Farmor thought that all us kids needed some fun-time and sent us on a floating sauna.  (I think she really just needed some peace and quiet.)

In true Finnish style we stoked up the fire…

…and then jumped into the cold cold water.

Afterwards it was berry picking time.

At the reunion party we got to meet all our rellies from all over the world.

I really enjoyed my first trip to Finland.  It wasn’t as exotic as I thought – Finnish attractions like the Arctic Circle, reindeer and the Midnight Sun are just every day life to me now.  But traveling to Finland has certainly made me one step closer to being Norwegian.  The best was being with the family and meeting distant relatives from other places around the world.