(This is the first of a series of blog entries on my upcoming trip to Helsinki, Finland, for the 2010 NHL Premiere games featuring the Minnesota Wild vs. the Carolina Hurricanes. I will be doing these on a (hopefully) weekly basis throughout August and September, leading up to the departure date for Europe. Comments, as always, welcomed and encouraged. Enjoy!)
Ever had a dream to travel somewhere really exotic? Somewhere that the world would be all anew and vibrant? Somewhere that really would surprise you, in a good way, with new places to see, new things to do and new experiences to share with the friends 'back home'?
Welcome to my world, folks. For the next two months, leading up to departure day for the 'Old Country', I will be giving you background information on this Minnesota Wild fan's trip to Helsinki, Finland, for the 2010 'NHL Premiere' games vs. the Carolina Hurricanes at Helsinki's Hartwall Areena. (No, I didn't mis-spell 'arena'. That's how the Finns spell it. Don't blame me.)
When the NHL announced that the Wild were participating in this back in late January (at least, that's when I first heard about it) my brain immediately went into another level. I asked myself: "What would it be like to actually GO over there to see that?"
That's when the practical side of me said: "You don't speak Finnish, WRT."
Fanatical side: "Details, details, that can all be worked out in the end..."
Practical: "And, it will cost a small fortune. Europe isn't cheap for Americans."
Fanatical: "If I start saving now, and put enough away fast enough, it will not only be bought, but paid for, before departure day."
Practical: "You haven't had a savings account for years, except for retirement."
Fanatical: "But just think of all the possibilities! All the cool stuff you can DO over there! All the places you'll GO!"
Practical: "OK, cool it with the Dr. Seuss. You're creeping me out."
Practical: "Well, it's worth looking into, at least. If you can save for it, and get your wife to go along, you might just be able to pull this off. Europe is a lot more tourist-friendly now than in the past. And, you two might just enjoy all the new things along the way."
Practical: "Look into it."
Looking into it further, we decided that the language barriers would be somewhat formidable, especially in Finland, where everything seems (at first, uneducated glance, anyways) like there's about 2 or 3 extra consonants to most descriptive words. We decided there's definitely 'safety in numbers', especially when those numbers actually include a few tour guides, who can actually SPEAK Finnish. So, we decided to break from our usual 'do our own thing' practice, and actually join the 'Official Wild Road Tour' group, for the first time ever.
Moving ahead to April, they announce the costs for the trip packages: $2,013 for the land portion (the part on the ground in Finland, you make your own way there), or a relatively whopping $3,217 when the airfare is thrown in (per person, double occupancy, or PPDO).
At least, that's what the brochures said. Well, when we did some more intensive digging, we found...
(To be continued)