Tuesday, May 27, 2014

On the road again

I managed to luck out and get a few conferences in Europe this month.  As usual, I posted in TP and on Facebook asking for puzzle shops and setting up meetings with like minded people.  I thought as long as I was going I may as well add a side trip to Finland so I can go visit with my professor.  So begins my adventure of the early summer…

The first person to contact me was Tomas Linden.  He told me they were having an FPP around the same time and if the dates coincided I was welcome to come.  I booked my flights hoping the dates would work for me.  As luck would have it, I got a message from Tomas telling me they had shifted the FPP to the weekend I was to arrive.  I made a quick change of plans and decided  NOT to head up to my university right away.  After all, I had a boys and toys to go to and we all know that is more important!

Now all I had to do was wait.  On the 18th of May, I left Hong Kong headed for Berlin.  A bit of work, a bit of play, and it was time to head over to Helsinki!  My flight of course was delayed but it didn’t matter.  I was smart enough to take a hotel at the airport.  At 9 the next morning Tomas called and picked me up. 

His children were participating in an annual running event so we took a quick detour to go watch them.  I’ve never felt so short in my life!  It was fun watching the kids run, but from there it was onto the boys and toys!

When we arrived, I recognized, Vesa, Timo, Matti, and Surprise!  Franz!  I wasn’t the only “foreigner” in the room!  No wonder the dates got changed!  There was not one, but two visitors from overseas.
There were around 18 of us there I think.  We started off being given a wooden burr type puzzle by Matti and set about solving it.  The gentleman next to me asked me to see a completed version, and when I passed it over, I suddenly had that Eureka moment!  I knew how to solve the puzzle!  My first of the day!

Around 15 minutes in, Vesa came over and gave me a ring!  This girl loves her jewelry.  And when it’s a puzzle combined!  Heaven!  He also gave one to Franz and explained that he only made three of these.  They are the prototypes and the nylon version can be found on Shapeways.  What a kind gift! 

After a while, Matti spoke of his early days collecting and passed around some booklets he’d made.  He then began to pass a number of paper puzzles.  Again, I managed to solve one!

Next up was some math puzzles on the white board, and a gentleman speaking of I know not what because I don’t speak Finnish.  I did get the gist of it though as he handed out another puzzle.  An optical illusion.  The next talk was about encryption and bless him, the lad wrote the slides in Finnish but spoke in English.  I came next and showed a few of my recent purchases and spoke a bit about the boys and toys we have in HK.  Franz was the last speaker and it was about a building he designed in Rotterdam, and then made a puzzle of! 


Timo decided to show us the robots his company makes, and all were eager to go see it.  It recycles building waste.  Very cool!  But first!  40 minutes stuck in an elevator with 13 men!  Now if I were a really sick person, I would say this was the highlight of the trip thus far.  I found it very entertaining.  I also enjoyed the fact that none of the smart phones worked, but the old dumb ones did!  A call for help was placed and we knew all would eventually be well.  Did I forget to mention we were about 6 stories underground?

We had some lively entertainment though.  After a while someone played some music, there was a bit of dancing, Vesa did some magic tricks.  I pulled out David who was in pieces in my pocket and we reassembled him.  Before we knew it, we were rescued and that was that. 

We then got to watch the robot sorter for a few minutes and headed back upstairs for the main event!  Puzzling and shopping!  I played with a few JC puzzles and liked two of them so much I had to buy them.  I passed around David and Many More Horses and those were well enjoyed.  Matti showed me the pieces for a coffin burr and I attempted to put them together.  No such luck.  I’m not that clever.  Lovely man that he is though, he handed the pieces over and told me to try at home. 

I ended up buying 2 puzzles from Matti and 5 from Tomas.  Adding the gift from Vesa and I’d say it was a good puzzle party. 

We all broke up around 6:30-7:00 and went our separate ways.  Tomo very nicely agreed to let Tomas and I spend the night so we headed to his flat.  A quick (2 hour) break for some puzzling and a few drinks.  I was in heaven yet again!  I got to play with some of the Prague puzzles that I had not seen before.  I handed out some puzzle locks for my hosts and a couple of NP360 metal jigsaws that my husbands company had made.  The locks were a hoot.  It took them a while to work out how to open them, but in the end it was done. 

We decided it was time for a beer and off we went.  When we got to the bar, we bought 3 different Finnish beers and played round robin with them.  None of us were clever enough to bring along a puzzle so we chatted and laughed for a few more hours.  When heading back to Tomo’s flat, we   I don’t know the names of what we had, but I enjoyed 3 of the 4 dishes.  The hamburger was "interesting"  More for them.  Around 3:30 or so we decided it was time to sleep and off we went. 

Only problem:  it didn’t get dark.  I couldn’t sleep because of the light coming in around the curtain.  In the end I covered my head with a blanket and passed out till morning.  Breakfast, a shower, and off we headed for Vaasa. 

Tomorrow look for my post on the adventure I had with Tomas and the small bit of shopping I did…..

Photos can be seen here.

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