The first part of our trip was spent in Finland. We went to north-central Finland to a tiny town called Vuokatti, where I was an exchange student for a year in 2003-04. I stayed with my host family and it was such a special time as I reconnected with them and they got to know my husband better.
This is a photo from the top of the ski hill in Vuokatti
We also did all sorts of fun outdoor activities. There is nothing like winter near the polar circle!
We went snowshoeing in the beautiful forests. I stuck my pole into the snow and found it to be about 2-3 feet deep.
We then went to Helsinki for 2 days to tour around with my host sister. This is a view of Helsinki from the top of the Olympic tower there. All the white is frozen bodies of water
This is a photo of us with my husbands family. It was a shock to me to learn that my husband looks just like his grandpa!
We then went to Warsaw for a few days with my mother-in-law to sight-see before returning home. It was very humbling to learn that 85% of Warsaw was destroyed during WWII. The below photos are of the "old town" of Warsaw, which was completely rebuild after WWII by using old paintings by Canaletto as blueprints.
One of the most humbling experiences was seeing the monument in what used to be the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw. During WWII the Nazi army put 450,000 Jews into a ghetto in Warsaw where they were walled-in. The conditions were terrible, and those that survived were then shipped off to terrible fates at a nearby concentration camp. Now this monument stands, showing the bleak-eyed forms of the Jewish resistance. Behind the statue is a new Jewish museum set to open soon.
We then returned home and were so happy to be back in our own bed again. It was a wonderful trip and we made amazing memories.