Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Sibelius & Savonlinna

Burial site of Jean & Aino Sibelius

At Acer this morning, it takes more doorbell ringing to get attention. Looking up the job ID on the Finnish website hasn't been effective, and I'm told that they have to order parts, which will take a week. No one called or emailed me about this, or looked at any notes indicating that they only had a day to look at it. When I try to take the laptop back, I find they have lost the universal power adaptor, and refuse to acknowledge this, pointing to the job sheet (which I wasn't given a copy of yesterday, just a number scrawled on a post-it note) as if it was the bearer of all truth. So, I volunteer, my laptop is now in worse shape than yesterday, because I can't power it at all now. It also transpires that they have ordered new parts without even testing the unit with any adapter, so I don't know what the hell was going on.

After lots of shrugging on their side, and no apologies, I'm left with little choice but to buy an Acer adapter (11€) marked up (24€) for a minimum one hour's technician time for printing the receipt for selling it to me, despite them having lost a 60€ universal adapter.
A half hour to the north of Helsinki, is Ainola, the house where Sibelius lived from 1904, when he was working on his Violin Concerto, until his death in 1957. It reminded me a little of the Saarinen House, but then I've only been in 2 houses in Finland, and maybe they're all like that. Jean and his wife Aino are buried in the grounds, along a short path from the kitchen door.
Inside the house, while furnished the only two items recognisably connected to his musical life are his piano (also played by pianists Kempff and Gilels) and a huge wreath given to him by the people of Finland.

Library and living room

Having wasted so much time at Acer, I now no longer have time to go to Tampere and see the Moomin Museum at the library. Instead I drive on to Savonlinna, stopping to get groceries in Lahti. On my second supermarket visit (first was in Tapiola yesterday), I notice that the meat sections are full of red meat and fish, but very little poultry. I was after some chicken for Bondi, but the first supermarket had none, and the second only had a few joints marinating in some paprika stew.

The road to Savonlinna is a little dull: birch trees and lakes forever and ever, undoubtedly a foretaste of the next few days. I let Bondi out for a sniff in the woods a few times, and pull over once for a nap, being inordinately tired for some reason. Perhaps one is expected to stop by the road and strip a few birch branches to thash oneself into wakefulness.

Savonlinna is spread over a on a nest of islands between or in several lakes. In this part of the country there is often more water than land. It's pretty quiet this evening, but apparently an international opera festival in July livens the place up.

My hotel is placed only 3 minutes' walk from the Olavinlinna Castle, quite magnificent on its own little isle, connected to my hotel's island by another little isle which looks to be a favourite for evening dog walkers. The castle won't be open again till tomorrow, and so we stroll around the isles and then back to the main island and past the regional museum, where some large old steam boats are docked.

Hannah gets cosy with Bondi.

There are some gaggles of teens and twenty-somethings drinking beer near the lakeshore. Bondi goes visiting a few, licking some ears, and causing some shrieks of laughter when the recipient turns to see him.

wood sprites?

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