Someone else’s Holiday


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“Isn’t it funny that you work in a place where we go for a weekend off?” my friend said. Yeah, very funny.

The guests, who come to the restaurant located on one of the tiny islands in Espoo archipelago, sigh how the building is lovely, the atmosphere peaceful, and nature so very beautiful. I see the dust, the wine stains on the tablecloths and the leaning towers of dirty plates in the kitchen.

I have to deal with groups where one person is gluten free, the other wants to have salad as the side instead of potatoes, kids want burgers but this one does not want any tomatoes and that one does not like onions and this kid wants only the bread and the beef… And actually, we want the wine later, bring it when the main course arrives. I, as a waitress, would like to say: “Not possible, the kids should learn to eat vegetables and I have no time to run back and forth with the wine bottle”. But instead I say: “Of course, I’ll make it happen”. All the time I know that in the kitchen the order will be regarded as if it announced that our chef’s paycheck was going to be halved. He will look at me crossly: “Are you kidding me?”

Why do the people have to be so difficult? Why is not the menu we offer enough? Why do they not understand that they are making my day terrible? Why does everyone think they deserve special treatment?

Of course they think they deserve special treatment. They are enjoying their day off, maybe they are on a holiday. Maybe they made a day trip to the archipelago, or stayed a whole week, or maybe they just came to relax after work. They have reserved some time just for themselves to sail to the island and enjoy a nice meal. It is their time to treat themselves. They pay for us to make their special moment special.

After all, I am working in an idyllic restaurant with a beautiful view. Hundred years old wooden pavilion looks out to the sea. Flags wave to the passer-bys and a handful of boats float by the deck. Nature decides whether we are going to have terrace full of people drinking beer in the evening sun or close early because of the storm that keeps everyone locked into their houses. It is a place where one can break free from the routines.

Sometimes, when I am working my ass off, splashing stinking dishwater on myself in a hurry and sweating in my polo shirt, I forget that I too want the same luxury – want to feel special – when I’m not working.

I am not on a holiday, but the others may be.

Too Tired to Tour

Do you know the feeling when you are in a new, fascinating place but you are just too tired to be excited? When you just walk into a free-of-charge museum or a concert hall just to be able to sit on a bench doing nothing. And all the time you are a little angry at yourself because you are not enjoying the time as much as you should

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I have been back in Finland for a while already but I want to go back in time a little and say a few words about my trip back from the US. My trip from Boston to Helsinki with Icelandair lasted 27 hours. Not because of delays, but because of my 18-hour layover in Reykjavik. Since I had this ridiculous layover I decided to get out of the airport and check out Reykjavik. After all, I had never been there.

Even though I arrived in Keflavik airport at 6.30am it was easy to find a bus to take me to the city. The sky was pale and the surrounding areas looked very bare. By the time I got to Reykjavik some people had emerged to the streets but it was still very quiet. The first thing to do was to find a cafe and get some coffee and breakfast. Old-fashioned Tiu Dropar with candlesticks on the windowsills and doilies on the tables invited early birds in. Hot latte nursed my jet-lag and lack of sleep with caffeine; it was time to explore the city.

Reykjavik city centre is small, Laugavegur cuts through the city and scattered around there are the church Hallkrimskirkja, pond, harbour and the concert hall Harpa. By one pm. I had toured the whole area and was too tired to do anything. After spending almost an hour sitting on a bench in Harpa I decided to give up touring. I bought a ticket to a public swimming pool Sundhöll and joined local kids who had a PE lesson there. There was one indoor pool for swimming and two hot pools outside for relaxing. It was not Blue Lagoon but it was quite nice and ticket cost only 900ISK (~6.60€).

Fresh but still tired, I made my way back to harbour. All the time in Maine I had wanted to taste Lobster (Maine is famous for their lobsters) but they were so expensive I never did. Now in Iceland, I walked into a small lunch restaurant Saegreifinn, which looked more like a fishmonger, where lobster soup was affordable. I got my taste of lobster and was happy, but I still had to spend another 2 and a half hours before the bus would take me back to the airport where I would sleep until the flight was due. Those remaining hours I spent in a rock museum reading about Iceland’s volcanic activity and such, checked out a photo gallery on the Library’s top floor and sat in the library reading random magazines.

Finally I got back to the airport but for my disappointment the “other side” was closed, meaning that no one could go through the security. There are no seats and no proper cafe’s on the landside so people were sitting on the floor for hours waiting for their flights. Absolutely ridiculous. My flight took off after 1 am and I got through the security sometime around 12 o’clock, way after the last bus from Reykjavik arrived. What was the point of keeping all the tired passengers waiting?

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I think I have to go to Iceland again. I’ll have to stay there longer to experience the nature and make sure that I won’t be jet-lagged and exhausted.