Friday, October 3, 2014

Farewells and far aways

My last few days in Tampere were very emotional, both in a good and a bad way. Many not-so-nice things happened in that time, but I also had many great moments. The first unlucky thing happened on the late evening when arriving home after 3,5 weeks. We had a car at the exhibition, which we’d borrowed from a dealer, and it came with a very heavy info sign. When I opened the sliding door of the van back in Tampere, I did not only realize I’d forgotten to return the sign to the dealer, but it also slipped out and fell on my foot. It hurt like hell, so much that I think my voice organs were paralyzed and I was robbed of the ability to scream out my pain.

Since I had only found out a few days before when I’d be leaving with the ferry from Helsinki and because I’d been very busy at the fair, I hadn’t had the time to arrange any help for the actual move. I was going to drive the Sprinter van we’d brought from Germany, all the way down to Frankfurt, filled with my stuff – including the piano… What a scary thought! Well, I did get some help with the piano and the sofa, but then I was on my own. Sure, I should have asked people earlier, but I just didn’t have the chance, and surely Facebook isn’t the best place to ask for help, but I didn’t really know what to do. The truth be told, I was quite disappointed, that after seven years in Tampere, nobody could spare an hour to come help me with carrying boxes into the van. At this point I’d packed my mattress and my sofa in the van, so I would sleep at a friend’s place. She had an old friend visiting from Australia, and he was amazing enough to volunteer helping me the next day. I’d have never managed taking apart the wardrobe and carrying it into the van without his help! On Wednesday I rewarded myself with a massage and a visit to one of my most inspiring friends. She invited me to stay there the next night, and I happily agreed. After 3,5 weeks of eating heavy restaurant food and meats, I was excited to enjoy organic vegetarian food as well as food for the mind. The day also included getting a parking fine and noticing that my bike was stolen, so the good things were balanced out by the bad ones...

Last moments and goodbyes.

Coffee, cakes and meeting up with friends.

Originally I intended to stay in Tampere until Friday morning, but I had a spontaneous change of heart and decided to visit some friends in Kouvola to spend my last evening in Finland with some more amazingly inspiring people. In the morning I headed toward Helsinki and had lunch with two of my best friends in the heart of the city at a great organic vegetarian restaurant called OmNam. Warmly recommended! In the afternoon I boarded the ferry and prepared myself for 27 hours traveling. Luckily I was prepared with a few good books and a laptop full of movies. The ferry had a sauna area with Jacuzzi, which I enjoyed two times altogether. About 28 hours later, late on Saturday evening I arrived in Travemünde and steered the van towards Hannover, where I spent the next day with family and friends. It was very relaxing and lovely! The last leg of my trip started on Monday morning, when I headed towards Weiterstadt and my new working place. The welcome was warm and I even had four strong men (and a forklift) helping me carry the things up in my small apartment.

On my way.
A few others on their way as well.
Beautiful Hanover.
The best way to spend time is with old friends.

So to add it all together, I drove the Sprinter van more than 2 600 kilometers. Even though I was terrified at first to even jump up behind the steering wheel. My friends in Hannover considered me absolutely brave for driving that huge van, but the van was quite easy to drive in the end, and I can even say I enjoyed it! Time to start my new life! 

The Exhibitions


On the last Thursday in August I boarded a plane and took off to Düsseldorf. Which turned out to be quite an adventure. Like most know, I am quite the traveler who can easily cope with most situations. My colleague had booked the flights for me and I flew on the same plane with my former boss, who was also going to the exhibition. Since I hadn’t received any info on whether someone was picking me up from the airport, which hotel I was staying at, where I should come upon arrival or anything else, I texted my colleague to ask about these things while on the bus to the airport. He said he’d be busy and couldn’t pick me up, so I should take a taxi to the address, which he’d send me later. I waited. And waited. When I landed in Düsseldorf I’d still not received an address, so I told him that now would be the time to let me know where to come. Finally he told me to come straight to the exhibition center and when I arrived he was confused as to why I was already there. He’d thought I’d arrive the next day…

The next eight days I spent at the exhibition in Düsseldorf. Our company had six stands at the expo, and I was positioned at the stand for dealers. I spent the week getting to know my new colleagues (who were great!) as well as most of our Scandinavian and Baltic dealers, making myself familiar with the products and really just enjoying the warm and great atmosphere. We (the Scandinavian team) had dinner with our clients and both the boss and his son (who is in charge of buying) invited me to have dinner with clients on two occasions, which came as quite a shock to me. I was honored and apparently I’d made quite a good impression. It was all very exciting. Everyone seemed to have been recommended the same Italian restaurant, since I ended up having dinner there three times. It was delicious though, and I had the chance to try out a lot of things from their amazing menu. It did feel like Düsseldorf only had one restaurant to offer though. I had an amazing week, and I couldn’t wait to start work at the office after the exhibition round.

At some point I was told I’d have to drive the big Sprinter van to the exhibition in Sweden, which was a pretty scary thought. Not just because of the idea of driving on the German Autobahn, but also because the van was almost six meters tall and over three meters high at its highest point. We started out  in Düsseldorf in the morning and I really had to concentrate to keep up with my colleague, who was driving about 160 km/h… The van was shaking and almost every time I passed a truck, it felt like the van would collapse. So scary! After a VERY long day (14 hours), we finally arrived in Jönköping, where the next exhibition would take place.

My hotel room in Düsseldorf.

Dressing up for dinner with clients.

Yes, that's a motorhome WITH a garage...

The smallest BMW I've ever seen.

Stopping in Lübeck, half way to Sweden.


That Sunday was theoretically the first free day after starting the job eight days earlier, but since I had a client who was waiting for a translation, I ended up working all day. Luckily we stayed at an amazing hotel called Best Western John Bauer, where the fantastic breakfast had a huge organic selection. Yumm! The sauna was really crappy though... The next couple of days went by quickly while building our stand for the exhibition that lasted from Wednesday to Sunday. Again I had the chance to meet many retailers and I even got to know some guys from a company, whose products we are selling, which was exciting! And again I got to enjoy amazing food at dinners with clients, which was a lot of fun as well. 

The following Monday we headed to Stockholm, where I spent the day with an old friend, eating great food and walking around. It was just what I needed after working for more than two weeks in a row. In the evening we boarded the ferry to Finland and I noticed that work was showing up in my sleep. I dreamed that my cabin at the boat was our exhibition stand, and I had to get out of bed every time clients showed up. It was a very restless and intense night.

The beginning of putting together a stand.

Jönköping is quite a charming city!

Delicious hotel breakfast with oatly yoghurt, berries and fresh fruits.

Ready to rock Sweden.

You could win the little fella by giving a name to the big fella. I didn't participate.

Ready again for dinner with clients.

Alde and Truma had a very impressive back room.

Delicious chocolate sviss.

More oatly yoghurt with fresh berries and organic müsli. Yumm!

Full house at the megastore of one of our retailers.


After arriving in Turku early in the morning, I steered the van straight to Lahti. I was very tired and hungry, so after arriving, checking in at the hotel and bringing the van away, I headed straight to an Indian restaurant to get something to eat. For a minute I thought about maybe checking out Lahti and enjoying the beautiful weather, but I just ended up going to the hotel and taking a four-hour-nap… Yes, four hours. No need to repeat the fact that I was exhausted. The rest of the day I relaxed in the sauna and hung out with a friend. It was a perfect afternoon, because the next day was all business again. 

The week in Lahti was a bit more relaxed than the previous ones. No dinners with clients, just the days at the exhibition talking to people, both private customers and clients. It was very lovely 3,5 weeks, but I was exhausted when I came home and very happy to get to sleep in my own bed. Which wouldn’t last for very long though.

Enchanting Lahti.

An old Volvo with an old trailer.

Ready to rock Finland.

Ode to Tampere

Without further ado, here's a tribute to my beloved Tampere.

(I own these photos, and they are not to be used without permission.)