My Canadian friend showed up, as scheduled, at Helsinki-Vantaa. This is actually the third visit, but the previous two were joint trips to Finland. But once these few weeks are over, he will return to YYZ. But that will be preceded by some time in Berlin as well. (And he will experience, I hope, that the BLN Intercontinental offers a better experience than the Montreal one that never really met our expectations, though we ended up there once and again for lack of anything better.)
VR offers speed, but none of the comfort and service VIARail gives. And no free drinks.
I much appreciate his efforts to learn Finnish. When starting without grammar, it is amazing though how important it is to be able to hear, for example, the double consonants etc, to be able to differentiate between, say, "kylä" (village) and "kyllä" (yes).
The news about the stepdown of Jack Layton reached us on Tuesday. It was more of a blow to me. Viewing Canada from Europe now I am more prepared to see how the prospects for equality are dwindling in Canada. Inside and there, the current bad news tend to be explained with some wishful thinking, or as a bad dream. Otherwise the future would be too painful, particularly in the wake of the Rob Ford takeover (based on free elections).
The high consumer cost level is always a shock upon arrival in Finland. Germany will soften the impact though, the whole of Western Europe is not that expensive.