And so after we checked into our room and got ourselves clean and relaxed and ready to go again, we went to Buffalo restaurant for dinner (one of the two restaurants on the island still open and serving food that wasn't just pizza and burgers...oddly unappealing to us who had been sitting in a car all day).
It was a gorgeous sunset, and luckily Buffalo was right by the water:
We ordered some wine and had light supper (especially me, having snarfed that entire steak dish just a few hours earlier). Shrimp caesar salads for all!
Strangely no dairy in this caesar's dressing, which caught me by surprise. I'm used to the uber rich and creamy version of this dressing, which I'm come to quite love. This one was still good, but much more fish-paste-based. Probably more authentic, in all cases. It even came with bacon, which German K declined but which I heartily took (and so did Hong Kong P). Even had a nice balsamic reduction slashed on the plate. Quite tasty.
The one thing that confused me were these little green olive-like things that were mixed in, on stems:
German K tells me they're in the caper family but I've never had them before in my life. They did taste like capers (same vinegary bite) but their insides were completely different - lots of resistance and completely filled with little seeds that looked like miniature mustard seeds though didn't taste like much (or maybe that's what gave it the tart flavor). They were wonderful. Still no idea what they are. They didn't come cleanly off their stems either (like cherries often do when they're ripe). You had to nibble them until the ends, like some peppers. Such a strange thing. If you can tell me what they are readers, please do. Lovely experience.
We were sitting and taking in the place, noticing that we were clearly the only foreigners and likely the only ones even remotely under 40. This is what life must be like at the end, retired, and living somewhere out in the country. It's a pleasant picture really. We did discuss quite a bit though how it might get boring. What did these old people do during the day? No idea. Their houses and lifestyle were quite relaxing and gorgeous though; maybe time didn't seem to make such a difference to those that are happy.
As we were finishing up and thinking about making our way back to the gorgeous bed and breakfast we'd scored for the night, our waiter approached us and said if we waited for another half an hour there'd be live music. Oh, well in that case, might as well stick around! More drinks were ordered and we chatted happily about this and that.
The singer came on stage a little while later and we were set. A Finnish man, likely in his early 40's, with an acoustic guitar. What did he play you ask? Oh quite a delightful variety. It ranged from 90's chart toppers like "What if God was one of us?" and oldies like Elvis' "Suspicious Minds" to some barely recognizable Finnish pop songs (some of which we actually recognized). We sang along loudly to those we did, in any case.
While we were enjoying ourselves the restaurant staff felt the need to send us over free raspberry and blueberry shots, compliments of the house. Guess they don't get many loud fun foreigners that often and it was a sight to see. We didn't get stared at; I think it's more the Finns like watching people have fun and wish themselves that their inhibitions would melt away. The folks in the room seemed to be having a good Saturday themselves anyhow; many of them had paired off and were doing slow couples dancing, despite the song that was playing. Delightful.
After a few more rounds of songs we decided it was time to head home and continue our party there. We turned on our favorite Helsinki memories mix (made by Hong Kong P herself, also known as Mixmaster P), which I had faithfully downloaded on my phone, and we belted out our favorite tunes at the top of our lungs. Apologies go out to the universe for these embarrassing but life-loving moments.
We could see so many stars out in the countryside, with no blaring city lights. It's moments like these that make you realize how insignificant your daily problems are in perspective. Must keep this in mind more often.
We danced around our room to the mix for half an hour more, at one time imitating with gross hilarity the dance we made so much fun of in String Theory, the great abstract modern dance show we watched when Helsinki was reigning design capital of the world last year. Seems such a long time ago now. "I'm doing yoga while sweeping the floor and trying to shake a fly off my leg." Hopefully this renovated barn had better noise insulation than some of my San Diego apartments. I'm pretty sure our laughter could be heard for miles.
This, is what living life is for. These precious moments. I haven't felt this alive in weeks.