We're not Finnish and probably will never properly fit in here. This becomes even more apparent at Juhannus, Midsummer. The city clears out as all the Finns head to their summer cottages, to sit at the lakeside, in the sauna, out of the city. The capital is abandoned to the foreigners who haven't inherited a place in the forests and cannot afford the crazy prices of renting one.
This year we made the most of it with our expat friends. On the Friday we went for a picnic at Kaivopuisto with a bunch of other mums. Pudding and I even made it on the evening news in English to show that only the foreigners are the only ones left. While chatting with the other mums we learned about a petting zoo not too far out of the city, so we decided to abandon the city ourselves, even if just for the day.
On Midsummer day we packed up early and headed west. Forty-five minutes away we discovered a wee gem, perfect for our Clan. Lomämäen Lemmikkipuisto - a pet park, is a home that has been turned into a mini zoo with a load of unexpected animals. We first found Shetland ponies and a donkey and thought it would be like the petting farms back home. After we tried to pay we discovered this wasn't your run-of-a-mill bunny, lamb, pony park. (The card reader was down and never worked so we gave the owner all our cash, but it didn't cover the entry free. He let us in anyway. We'll definitely go back just to pay him back.)
Our first discovery was the raccoon dogs. I had never heard of them until we came to Finland. The name is spot on for the coloured one, I didn't even know there could be white ones. The owner said we could feed all the animals (but watch out with the parrots) so I should have known better than try and pet them. They thought I had food and gave me a gentle nip to check. Same with Pudding, but none of the animals were aggressive.
Not only could we see and feed animals in cages, but even some wandering around the yard as well. Even better in the house the owners will let you touch and hold quite a few animals. We arrived quite early so we got to spend a lot of time holding and petting things: lizards, snakes, birds, raccoons, skunks. The owners were happy to talk to the kids as much as they wanted, which was a lot. Foo was in heaven. Even later when a few other families came it was never crowded. During the non-holiday summer weekends it may be busier, but the owners said it never gets bad. I feel like I'm jinxing things for us a bit just sharing its location. I want it as our own private playplace.
The cafe is basic, but we're getting pretty good at picnic lunches now that we're eating less processed foods. We also discovered a play bit with a trampoline and bouncy castle on the way out so the kids had a quick bounce before leaving. I'm sure it will be higher on the agenda next time.
It was a lovely day and definitely wore everyone out. It made our Juhannus this year memorable.