Jumping around Europe for 4 months leading up to our wedding and honeymoon.
  • Jul23

    Kiev by the river

    July 23, 2019 in Ukraine ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    After the wedding we headed back to Kiev for a couple more days to discover the city and spend some time with Sam and Anna. In the first evening suprisingly we ended up at a beach bar by the river - that's not how we imagined Kiev at all. It was chilled and lovely sitting in the sand drinking some vodka. The next days we visited the Motherland monument surrounded by meters tall communist statues and tanks, a Monestary called Kiev Pechersk Lavra. We also went on a boat trip with Sam, Anna and some more vodka and pickles, then we had the best chicken Kiev ever, and some more vodka which lead us to a karaoke bar where Sam and Tom decided to sing the Wannabe - Spice girls song. What a great way to finish off our Europa trip which also means our wedding day is getting closer :)Read more

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  • Jul20

    Vinnytsia - McKean wedding

    July 20, 2019 in Ukraine ⋅ ☁️ 25 °C

    The long anticipated wedding of Sam and Anna, the new Mr and Mrs McKean!
    Early in the morning we made our way to meet some other guests at another hotel in Kiev and catch our bus to Vinnytsia.
    Once we arrived we had a couple of hours to check in to our hotel, do some last minute present wrapping, get showered and dressed up and climb back into the bus to be whisked off to the venue for the ceremony. The ceremony took place in a beautiful spot next to a river and included the first of many Ukrainian wedding traditions which made it really fun and interesting to be a part of.
    Now that the happy couple were officially married we all moved on to the reception which was in another really nice location with a giant windmill and a lake behind. During the evening we had more delicious food than we could ever hope to eat, more vodka than we could ever drink (despite our best efforts) and enjoyed all the speeches, weird traditions, and dancing to the Ukrainian polka style band. It was a fantastic night and a brilliant experience.
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  • Jul19

    Kiev - Майдан Незалежності

    July 19, 2019 in Ukraine ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    We arrived in Kiev by plane from Riga. Our hostel was right next to Майдан Незалежності, Independence Square, a noisy, busy meeting place full of fountains, bars and street performers.
    The Square has also always been a rallying point for protests and demonstrations and was the central point of the 'revolution' in 2014. In fact, while wandering around in the evening, we suddenly noticed a huge group of people with red balloons gathering around a big monunent at the end of the square. Despite being handed a balloon and invited to join in, we didn't manage to find out much about what was going on except that it was something to do with the president.
    We ventured a little further from Independence Square to St. Michael's Golden Domed Monastery and St. Sophia's Cathedral and had a good look around at lots of huge Russian style church buildings. Also in that area we did a brilliant Matrix themed escape room, which was the first time we've attempted one just the two of us. We weren't quite at the top of our escaping skills but really enjoyed it and only finished a couple of minutes late.
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  • Jul15

    Jūrmala

    July 15, 2019 in Latvia ⋅ ☁️ 18 °C

    For a day trip from Riga we headed to a place called Jūrmala on the coast. Jūrmala is a stretch of small towns along the Baltic sea which were popular with wealthy Rigans of the past and nowadays has become the most popular Latvian beach destination.
    We picked one of the bigger of those towns, called Majori, and took a train from Riga. We arrived and straight away felt like we'd teleported to the Balaton, the main street with it's restaurants and bars really feels a lot like the bigger towns at Balaton. The main difference is the beach, a long stretch of sand which seems to go on forever and was full of sunbathers and beach volleyballers on the lovely sunny day that we were there.
    We also had time to explore a forest park where little roads have been paved between the trees and lead to lookout towers, kids playgrounds and cycle paths.
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  • Jul14

    Riga

    July 14, 2019 in Latvia ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Another great capital, 4,5 hours bus drive away from Tallinn. We spent our days in Riga with lots of relaxing time and wedding planning which was needed considering the fact that in a couple of weeks we will be celebrating our big day. Yaaaay! :) The city itself is great and much cheaper than Finland or even Estonia. We made some big walks around the old town, traditional market, new modern library with a 5 storey high bookshelf and lots of chess boards, parks in the centre, canal and river and went to some weird Soviet pubs where the burger comes with a vodka garnish, tried local beer and Vera went on a yoga class. We also discovered some real cheap but healthy way to eat at the local self service place and at the market. Lovely few days before we fly off to Ukraine to celebrate with Anna and Sam their wedding day.Read more

  • Jul13

    Jäneda

    July 13, 2019 in Estonia ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    We decided to branch out from Tallinn for the day and see a bit more of Estonia. We had read about 'The President's Hike' online so decided to give it a try and took a train to Aegviidu which is where the route begins.
    The route's name comes from an annual hike which lots of people including an ex-president take part in to commemorate something or other. That usually takes place some time in winter when the Estonian countryside is snowy and is sometimes done on skis. In the middle of summer we found that we had the route almost completely to ourselves which was great for a peaceful walk in the forest, bogs and countryside. But it didn't take long to find out why nobody else was out walking, the resident mosquitoes are particularly vicious and the forest was thick with them. By the time we'd walked the first couple of kilometers every uncovered piece of flesh had been bitten, including Tom's face and the palm of his hand. We ended up power-walking the rest of the 10km route in the hope that a fast moving target would be less easy to bite.
    Finally we came out from the forest into the town of Jäneda where there were far less flying bastards and we could relax again. We found a brilliant pub which served 'authentic north Estonian food' and had beetroot and horseradish soup, chicken and dumplings soup, pear cider and beer. Full up and recovered from our battle with the mosquitoes, we walked to the station to catch a train back to Tallinn.
    Back at the caravan we had unfortunately run out of water, not ideal after a sweaty hike. We found a great solution though, signing up for a 3 euro trial at a fancy gym and spa in the city which meant we could spend the evening in the swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna, and most importantly have a shower. Perfect.
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  • Jul12

    Tallinn

    July 12, 2019 in Estonia ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Estonia is the first country which we have arrived in by boat. The 2 hour journey from Helsinki on a giant ferry with 9 decks, lots of bars and even a live band was a nice change from buses and planes.
    When we docked at Tallinn we only had a few hundred metres to walk to our accommodation, a little caravan in a car park at the port, another first for us. It was actually pretty comfortable even if it was very tight for space. The best part was that there was a maritime festival going on all weekend just a few steps from the caravan which meant lots of stalls selling food and beer and a chance to see Estonia's Eurovision entry from last year live on stage!
    Over two and half days we managed to explore most parts of the city, the medieval old town, where all the cafe, restaurant and market staff are dressed in traditional clothes, and the new city with its shiny buildings and very modern feeling. We liked Tallinn a lot, it's not very big but there is plenty to see and it seems like it would be a nice place to live.
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  • Jul10

    Helsinki

    July 10, 2019 in Finland ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    We spent two and half days in Helsinki with Ági and Flóra, staying in Kaija and Petri's lovely flat.
    We did a lot of walking and sightseeing, saw lots of churches, the city museum, botanical gardens and a cool square with strange lumps which are actually the roof of an underground gallery. One of the churches was carved in the rocks, which are all around the city. Another was built in the middle of a noisy square out of wood and was freakishly quiet inside.
    We also had a walk along the coast and tried some fried vendace, a local fish speciality, and saw some boat-saunas and a sea pool.
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  • Jul7

    Tampere

    July 7, 2019 in Finland ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    At two different times we made our way from Kulju to Tampere, the second biggest city of Finland. It is built on a strech of land between two big lakes which has a tower on the highest point with great views to the city and some walking paths around. There we had some coffee and local doughnuts. We also walked around the city and were introduced to many places and interesting information by our hosts. Tampere is an old industrial city and nowadays a lot of the old factories beside the river have been repurposed as museums, restaurants, bars and other things. We saw quite a few nice places so sit outside for a drink but at €7 for a beer they were a bit outside our budget! The one and only moomin museum can also be found here which we read and watched as children many times.Read more

  • Jul5

    Kulju

    July 5, 2019 in Finland ⋅ 🌧 10 °C

    Our trip to Finland was arranged a while ago and a little differently to the previous countries. Agi, Flora and us visited Agi's old friend from her teenagehood and stayed with them for some real Finnish experience in their holiday cottage in Kulju, a tiny little village 25 minutes from Tampere.
    Finland is the country of thousand lakes and many if not most families have a summerhouse. The weather was rather rainy and cold but we enjoyed some typical Finnish sauna time every day in their private homemade sauna just a few steps from the house (all made out of wood). Sauna is not only for pleasure but also the only way to wash as no bathroom is available, only a "toilet" in the woods. Once we even went in the cold lake after being properly warmed up by the 80° sauna which is the real way to do this experience. Other times we enjoyed the fireplace in the cottage while playing boardgames and having typical gin and grapefruit drinks.
    One day the sun came out and we could row a boat all around the lake and cook sausages on the barbeque outside in the evening.
    The midsummer night was just a couple of weeks before our visit so it was light pretty much all night which was so weird and confusing, the first time we expereinced anything like this.
    It was an extremely unique, relaxing and typically Finnish few days which we are so grateful that we could experience. Thank you Kaija, Lisa, Petri and Varpu!
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