I slept solid, awakened by the sounds of Kris' adorable kids, Rufus and Renee playing. This is where I also met Saana, who had breakfast ready and was helping the kids get used to the stranger in the house . . . . . me. Turns out Saana also helps the kids with their computer skills, because they navigate the computer pretty good for their age. She is definitely the Ying to Kris' Yang, with lively eyes but an earthy demeanor. I should note that this was also my introduction to Finnish breakfasts: very simple stuff like eggs, bread and cheese, cut veggies, cloudberry and lingonberry jams, coffee. If you ever had the pulp from a passion fruit, then cloudberries are close to that, but less musky. The lingonberries are like cranberries but sweeter.
Today, we would meet up with Måns Rinne and pick up Christian Burger, flying in from Austria. If you look at Måns, you can tell who is the bodybuilder among us. Christian looked a little bigger than his 205 pounds, and he actually competes in the IPF. Both are very affable guys with Christian being warm but measured, and Måns being animated with mischievous eyes. Christian works for Siemens, which is one really huge company, and is very well traveled. We were able to hit it off right away since he has traveled to the States quite a bit.
After a stop at Chicos to get burgers, Måns and I went in one car and Kris and Christian went in another. From there it was on to the supermarket to stock up on stuff. Remember what I said about the Finns and their little hidden surprises? How about a supermarket that sells lifting chalk, ammonia, and kettlebells? Sweeet. Not so sweet was Måns introducing us to Salmiakki, or salted licorice. Christian was the first to try it and I wish I had videotaped it because the look on his face was classic: the look of disgust slowly evolved on his face with every suck, cracked me up. Not wanting to be left out of the suffering, I gave it a shot. Then I looked at the label to see what the cause of that ammonia tail in its taste was and sure enough it was ammonium chloride!?! What the hell?!? EVIL CANDIES!!! Everything else we bought was normal, energy drinks and grub.
Måns and I talked quite a bit. For one, his accent is so faint that you could almost confuse his accent for American (He has been there). Like Kris, he did compulsory military service (Military Police, Kris was a Field Engineer). He is also a personal trainer. And when I asked him if it was true about an ad I saw at a train station in Helsinki that said about Finns finding love at dances like waltzes and tangos, he mentioned that Kris and Saana met that way. Couple with the fact that he met his Emma through his only try at online dating and you wonder if anyone needs to ever be a pickup artist.
We made a stop in Rauma, to check out the Old Town, and what remained of a very old church that burned down to the ground. We also stopped by a really old bridge where Kris and Måns got us to try the Turkish Peber, which was like Salmiakki but it had hot chili pepper powder in the center. Ack!!! Candy is supposed to be SWEET!!!
Once we got to the pier in Vaasa, we loaded up the boat and took a nice boat ride to the cottage. There we met Kris' parents, and we took a tour of Toffee's Gym which was every bit as nice as we've seen on the Web. Måns and Kris then started taking off the oils that was protecting the bars and uncovering the racks. Kris then showed us all the equipment: Buffalo Bar, Safety Squat Bar, chains, bands, weight releasers, a Rolling Thunder lurking about plus other grip stuff, and a pit with additional weights that could be used for belt squats. Kris joked that it was supposed to be a dungeon for me before he had a change of heart;)
We were assigned cottages to sleep in and after a very good dinner, we went to sleep. Psyched up for the next day.