Dec 022023

You guys. I admit, I had my doubts when Chooch suggested going to this place called SEURASAARI in Helsinki but then he sold it by pointing out that it’s also affectionally called “squirrel island” by the locals, since it’s inhabited by adorable squirrels and other allegedly friendly wildlife. Anytime we plan a trip, I’m always begging Henry and Chooch to throw some of their ideas into the hat because while I do enjoy being in control, sometimes I want other people to step up and say, “This is what we’re doing today, and that’s just how it’s going to be.”

Henry suggested nothing, as I’m sure you could have guessed, but Chooch did provide some suggestions. I can’t ask for this and then reject it all, you know? So Squirrel Island it is!

It was just kind of a hassle to get to because we had to transfer one or two times, I think and then walk a bit because we couldn’t figure out if there was a bus that would take us straight to the island, so we basically were just dropped off at the entrance of the long road leading up to the island, but that ended up being a nice walk, actually.

I wanted to talk briefly about the bus ride though because we were facing a trio of girls, maybe 19-21? I have a hard time detecting ages nowadays. But it was clear that one of the girls was the leader, as she was sitting in the middle showing the other two things on her phone. It sounded like they were looking at apartment listings maybe? They were speaking in Finnish but every once in a while, parts would be in English, like when the leader said, “Oooh, super cozy!” And then at one point she was like “*Finnish Finnish Finnish* That FUCKING BITCH!” in unaccented English, and I was trying so hard not to crack up because she said it in such a cheerful tone. I was obsessed with her and wanted to go wherever she was going, but our stop came up first.

On the walk to the island’s entrance, we passed several old houses that had been converted into restaurants and cafes. They all looked, well, super cozy that FUCKING BITCH. It was pretty much like walking through a wooded park – not too much traffic and very tranquil. I’m kind of glad that the bus dropped us off on the main drag because it was a very pleasant walk!

Immediately upon arriving at squirrel island, there was a refreshment stand so we had to get some ice cream.

SALMIAK for me, of course! God I miss that salty licorice goodness. That FUCKING BITCH.

OK, I know – it’s getting old. I’ll stop.

The actual “island” is accessible by a pedestrian bridge, no need for a ferry. The cool thing about this island as well is that it’s an open-air museum, where you can see old buildings from rural Finland in the 18th-20th century. It’s free to walk around, since it’s a public park, but paid admission is required to access the insides of the buildings. We were there STRICTLY for squirrels, so we opted out of that.

I’m gonna go ahead and give props to Chooch, because this place was an absolute delight. We really needed to get out into nature after days upon days of amusement parks and big cities.



(One of my favorite YouTubers says that and now I have this impulse to say it constantly like a nervous tick even when shit’s ugly.)

So over me, lol.

Ugh, these trees. Gorgina.

Ugh, this windmill! Gorgina.

My fucked up eyes couldn’t even tell at the time that I was taking unfocused pictures in portrait mode, lol I hate myself.

Dude, a telephone booth from 1913!!

Apparently, this place has a NUDE BEACH but it was CLOSED on the day we were there lolol.

Here’s a video that Chooch took of me trying to give a squirrel a leaf (SORRY, I DIDN’T KNOW WE WERE ALLOWED TO BRING ACTUAL FOOD TO FEED THE SQUIRRELS! I’m so used to people here yelling at me for feeding the squirrels so I assumed it would be verboten!):

For some reason, this was viewed over 10,000 times in Instagram/Facebook?! Why?

Then we lost Chooch at some point and at first I was like, “Whatever, he’s 17. He’ll be fine” but we were also near water and I started panic that he fell in and drowned?? I don’t know why my mind immediately went there, oh wait because underneath it all I’m still a mom, but I got REAL SWEATY about this. Henry was like, “Can you calm down, I’m trying to identify this bird over here” but then Chooch eventually rejoined us – stupid ass was looking for a goddamn geocache. He is so annoying!!

Here are Chooch’s photos from that day as well! He actually created a shared folder, I can’t believe it. Also, his camera lens appeared to be super smudgy so that’s cool.

This was the bridge leading to the island, btw.

Ugh, his idiot geocache.

Other notable things:

  • there are tiny birds there that will land on your hand if you’re patient enough. Chooch spent many minutes trying to make this happen. It never panned out for him, though;
  • we saw some people playing some game in a field with sticks and a ball – maybe it was this molkky thing? (see video!)
  • there were several groups of college-aged foreigners that we encountered and it looked like they were for some team-building camping thing? I’m no camper but if I had to camp somewhere, I wouldn’t mind doing it there I guess.
  • clean bathrooms

Then we walked all the way back to the main road again and caught the bus back to our place and got vegan pizza for dinner. We tried to make it an early night because we had to get up fucking early as shit the next day to catch our ferry to our fifth and final country – Estonia!

Nov 262023

Honestly, I should have just included this stuff in my last Helsinki post but I was being lazy. But after we chilled in Senate Square, we continued walking toward the water and spent a good amount of time checking out all of the wares being shilled. We bought some gifts and souvenirs, and met a really lovely couple who makes jewelry from spectrolite, “an uncommon variety of labradorite feldspar.” I bought a pretty little pendant and the wife part of the couple burned all three of our names and the date into a nice little wooden box, which is her husband’s contribution to the business. There were one or two other booths we saw with people hawking spectrolite jewelry, but I got the best vibes from this lady and I felt very good about the purchase. She was just a joy to talk to!

Finland is amazing.

Chooch rode the sky wheel on his own because it counts as a credit on some stupid app he downloaded at the suggestion of someone from our trip, causing him to branch out from just collecting coaster credits. Now he needs ALL CREDS.

It was lunch time by then, so we decided to get that out of the way before attempting for the second time to make it to this elusive “squirrel island.” On the way to Hesburger – a local fast food chain with vegan options – we ran into the South Korean embassy! I love you, Korea. Don’t you ever worry – as much as I loved Sweden and Finland, you are still bae.

<3 <3 <3

I don’t know what this building is but I thought it was beautiful.

OK yo – Hesburger was amazing. I don’t LOVE going away and eating at fast food places, but I made an exception here because I had heard so much about how great Hesburger is and I wanted to support a place with vegan options. Plus, this trip was expensive, you guys. We needed to take the frugal route every now and then, and that’s what’s up.

The whole vibe of this place was so cool, like a vintage garage. Did not feel like a fast food joint at all, honestly, but more like…a gritty cafe? I got the VEKE soy tortilla and it was divine. Anytime fast food doesn’t kill my stomach, I take the win.

I loved the stools!!

Kasarmitori Square, where Hesburger was located.

Definitely didn’t choke myself nearly to death on immature giggles here.

And then it was time to – fingers crossed – embark on our journey to Squirrel Island, which I was told that “the bus will only take us so far and then we have to walk but I don’t know how far.” 0.O

Moimoi for nown0w.

Nov 222023

I woke up on Wednesday feeling kind of allergy-ish which was bound to happen. Henry and I walked to the nearby K Market (it is with a heavy heart I report that the K was not for Korean) and OFC I found my favorite industrial strength cough drops in LICORICE flavor!

And why am I not surprised that Finland has the cutest toilet paper mascot??

While in this tiny market, I decided that I wanted to get a loaf of the good-good brown bread that I had been almost exclusively relying on for a.m. sustenance throughout the whole trip until now. Fending for ourselves for breakfast?? This was really one of the only drawbacks to trading a hotel for an airbnb, honestly. Anyway, Henry was being a big fucking jerk about it because he didn’t want to have to buy AN ENTIRE THING OF BUTTER as well, when we were only going to be here until Saturday and couldn’t take it with us. He’s such a cheapskate sometimes, I really swear to god. So, then I slammed the bread back down and stormed off. Then I came BACK and shouted some stuff about how I’m A FUCKING GROWN UP AND I MAKE MORE MONEY THAN HIM because this is definitely how GROWN UPS ACT IN GROCERY STORES. So, then he was like CALM DOWN (probably, it seems like something he’d toss in my face like a patronizing grenade) AND GET THE BREAD AND BUTTER, I DON’T CARE but then I was like NO I’M NOT ALLOWED AND I DON’T WANT IT ANYMORE ANYWAY.

I ended up getting the bread and the butter and I ate it several times a day and yes, we left a nearly full tub of butter behind in the fridge when we left Saturday morning, but it was worth it because that bread and butter made me happy every time that I ate it.

Fucking men.

There was a Fazer Cafe right across from K Market so we popped in there too for some coffee and to get Chooch breakfast before heading back and by then, I was simmering down a bit.

Oh also! (Sorry, it is now several hours later and I had approx. 5 sips of a BEER so buckle up, baby.) This was one of…what? Two? Days where we were able to sleep in and get a slow start to the day even though I was in everyone’s ear, being bossy about NEEDING TO GET STARTED. The main plan for the day was to head out to Squirrel Island, which is actually called Seurasaari. When I told Chooch to please for the love of god give me some things he was interested in doing on this trip, that was his big want, and it was sweet because obviously I’d like it because SQUIRRELS and he was interested in it because NATURE and who cares if Henry wanted to go because we were going. End of story.

Of course, there was a fight betwixt Henry and Chooch over how exactly to get there. Chooch was like, “We have to take the Blah Blah Bus” whatever that means, so we walked to the bus stop and waited.

This lady ended up getting super flustered and scolding Chooch in Finnish for not flagging down the bus, like any of us knew we had to do that and if she knew it, why didn’t she flag one for the team?!

(At least, I think this is what was happening. Maybe she was just angry at the bus driver and was trying to commiserate with us about it?!)

It turns out the next bus wasn’t going to come for quite a while so Chooch was like, “We can walk to another stop and get a street car” or something, I don’t know, it was two months ago at this point and I was sick, if you recall.

So we got on a street car / tram / trolley whatever it’s called and about 5 minutes in, I started having A COUGHING FIT totally reminiscent of all the times I would be on the T going to work and I dunno if it was the dry air or what but sometimes I would get a TWINGE in my throat that was uncontrollable and this was well before COVID but even still I didn’t want to be That Disgusting Person hacking away in an enclosed space so I would get off the T waaaaay before I was supposed to and walk the rest of the way to work.

Because I’m neurotic.

Anyway, this happened that morning and I was like WE HAVE TO GET OFF OF THIS THING ASAP and I practically pitched myself headfirst out of the door.

We were right by some mall thing so we went in there and found a pharmacy where I bought cough syrup and allergy medicine. There are the exciting and exotic details of my life that you came here for.

Coughing fit quelled, we got on the SUBWAY/TRAIN whatever they call it there and took it to Senate Square! Actually, we just took it “near the water” because I wanted to go where all of the local vendors are, but we ended up accidentally running into Senate Square. We’ll just pretend it was part of the plan.

There was a little cafe there so we bought cafe and sat down to eat the donuts we bought on a whim from a donut kiosk in the subway station. They were good!

This might have been one of the only days that I left for the day with NO JACKET. Just me and the NCT U shirt on my back.

Chooch racing the little brother he obtained somewhere along the way.

I wanted Henry to take our picture here but then some guy was I WILL TAKE ONE OF THE WHOLE FAMILY and I was like, “Oh. I mean, OK sure, yeah. How…nice.”

I wanted an obnoxious filter and I got it.

Being out in the fresh air was definitely helping me feel better, that’s for sure. I’m pretty sure I get sick every time we go somewhere longer than a weekend.

More later!

Nov 192023

One of the first things I like to do before going to a new park is looking on their website to see if there are veg/vegan options. I don’t know if you guys have noticed but the websites for most American parks are stupidly unhelpful. If you’re luck and can find a “dietary restrictions” section, they might have a list of their “restaurants” that have something for us of the NO-MEATS persuasion, but then you get there and find out it’s a soft pretzel, a wilted salad, OR if you’re really lucky, a soggy ill-cooked veggie burger.

These parks on our trip though – they spoiled us rotten. Linnanmaki was no exception! Before we even left Pittsburgh, I had like 4 places there that I wanted to eat at and knew it would have to be a game time decision. Can I just point out that every single food place on this list has the vegan symbol??

We ended up choosing Hurlumhei, which offered TOFU BURGERS. I love tofu. I will choose that over an Impossible/Beyond/black bean burger any day.

Look how fun the interior is! It definitely didn’t feel like we were eating inside an amusement park. I think that’s such a great perk to parks that are free to enter – they usually tend to step up the food game so that non-riders are inspired to pop inside for food. There seemed to be quite a few nice sit-down restaurants in this place. Maybe not at the level of Bakken, Tivoli Gardens, or Liseberg, but better than, OH I DON’T KNOW, Kennywood.

We have season passes for Kennywood and I think we would go more often if they had better food options, where we could maybe say, “Hey, while we’re out this way, let’s go to Kennywood for dinner and ride Phantom several dozen times.” But instead, it’s like, “Let’s eat at home first and then go to Kennywood for rides and an ice cream cone.”

Chooch got a fancy frappucino-ish thing and then acted like I was making him cut out his own kidney with shrapnel from a sardine can when I asked for a taste. He is SO GERM-PHOBY and also really just a brat at the core of it all.

I honestly think he tries to mask the stinginess with the fact that he doesn’t want anyone using his straw. Mm.

FIRST FINNISH SQUIRREL SIGHTING!! Living his best life, lunchmeat in hand/paw. We spent entirely too much time interacting with this cutie, to the point where people were walking by and stopping to see what the hell was so fascinating to these idiot Americans.

Is it weird that I think a lot about how I wasn’t squirrel-obsessed yet when we went to Korea, so I didn’t notice the squirrels there but now that’s near the top of my list of things to do if we go back, above “get married”? Because I’m really gonna go to Seoul Forest. How we have been to S.Korea twice yet never made it to Seoul Forest either of those times is kind of criminal and in the vein of “But Did You Even Really Go to Korea?”

I will say that Finnish squirrels look like they’re straight out of a fairy tale, though. 10/10, exceeded expectations.

Omg the slowest ops in the world were running this ride. They really wanted every single car to be filled so they had us just sitting there picking at our cuticles waiting for more riders to maybe show up even though this ride was buried in the back of the park in a dead end!

Fun ride though.

Chooch made me take this picture because I think his phone was dead and he wanted to send it to a friend because it was the opposite of Ice Spice. I don’t know why I kept it?!

I loved this little arcade and snack area!I want to have neon spirals on my ceiling!!

Finally, it was #CAROUSELFIE time. Also, these benches. This landscaping. Am I in Snow White’s backyard?! I will never be able to properly convey the magic that this park exudes. You know a place has to be pumping out subtle wafts of serotonin when the three of us manage to go the whole time without temper tantrums, empty “THIS IS THE LAST TIME WE’RE GOING ANYWHERE TOGETHER” threats, or disparaging remarks about each other’s annoying breathing/eating/chewing/attitude. I mean, of course Henry was annoying but there is not very much out there that can distract from that.

Which one should we use for the #carouselfie wall??

17 and he still pouts when he doesn’t get the carousel animal he wants but this time he snagged his #1 choice of elephant so he was pacified.

Wouldn’t it be fun if Henry learned how to make fiberglass sculptures and then we could turn our yard into a creepy storybook forest type of nightmarescape that would maybe deter religious solicitors?

I also think it would be cool to have this is a bed post.


I will never stop missing the licorice selection. It was A++++++ in every country we visited on this trip. Lands o’ Licorice.

As usual, magnificent restrooms!

Ugh Kirnu. Back-to-back parks with these awful Intamin Zack Spins. I am not sad that there are none left in the US. Anyway, behind it, you can see the water tower that now houses an indoor family coaster, which you can choose to ride with VR goggles. I think there were three themes to choose from, and we all ended up choosing the horror one. IT WAS SO FUCKING GOOD!! I couldn’t believe how much it elevated this basic little dime-a-dozen family coaster that you find pretty much in every park. It was excellent and I have no idea why we didn’t go back and try the other two themes?!

Chooch and I also rode a bunch of unique flat rides, the rapids ride, and we all rode the train. We stayed until the park was about to close and then began our short journey back to the apartment. I felt sad immediately after leaving. This place, man. What a babe.

Here’s a video of our first day in Finland, including Linnanmaki footage but starting with arriving on the ferry that morning, the train ride to Helsinki, the rickety elevator in the apartment building we were staying in, to the walk back after getting off the tram from Linnanmaki. Now that I’m recapping this, it’s hard to believe that all of this was just one day. I feel tired reliving it.

Nov 162023

Weird to say “BUT THEY’RE SO CLOSE!!” when talking about two countries that are separated by a large body of water (and are only accessible by car/bus/train in the far northern regions, not applicable in our case)* but when I saw how cheap and easy it would be to, you know, just hop over to Helsinki from Stockholm, I started really drilling home my case for Linnanmaki, Helsinki’s amusement park.

*(I had to come back a day later and add this because in my head, I knew what I meant but I figured it was only a matter of time before someone called me out for being geographical ignorant, I mean, in a world where strangers still actually read this shit, you know what I mean?)

  1. It looks fucking precious in every video I watched;
  2. It has Taiga, an Intamin Blitz coaster that opened 2 years before what is arguably one of the best coasters in the world: VelociCoaster at Islands of Adventure. We are obvi huge fans of VelociCoaster, so I used that as a big selling point;
  3. I just really wanted to go to Finland in general and this seemed like a good “excuse”;
  4. It’s for a good cause, as Linnanmaki is “owned by the non-profit Children’s Day Foundation, which operates the park in order to raise funds for Finnish child welfare work. In 2019, the foundation donated €4.5 million, and so far has donated a total of over €120 million to this cause.” – Wiki
  5. Including Taiga, it has an impressive 8 coasters –  not too shabby (ugh I actually hate that phrase so I have no idea why I used it and furthermore no idea why I didn’t just delete it?? My old boss at Olan Mills used to say that all of the time and it’s not like I didn’t like her, but it was so annoying) for a small city park!

Um, now that I’m really reading this Wiki page, I’m learning so much. Here’s a … fun? … fact:

Since its opening in 1950, two people have died in amusement ride accidents at Linnanmäki, both caused by negligence on the part of the rider. In 1953, an employee, a roller coaster brakeman* who was sitting in the front row after his shift on the last ride of the evening did not attach the safety bar, fell off and was hit by the train. In 1985, a guest, a boy, also sitting in the front row, had managed to open the safety bar and stood up to wave to his friends. The boy then fell in front of the train, which ran over him.

*Also, if you’re wondering what a coaster brakeman is, shame on you for not reading my Tivoli Garden post, where we rode our first ever brakeman-operated coaster!

Another fun fact, this one I already knew, is that the park is built on a hill about a mile outside of Helsinki, and derives its name from Vesilinnanmäki (lit. ’Water Castle Hill’), the name locals gave to the hill way back in the day since it had two water towers. Both towers are no longer in operation, but some kind of city zoning law prohibits the towers from being removed. One of them was converted to a maintenance shed for the park, and the other now houses an indoor family coaster!! I love that. That particular water tower especially is now an iconic landmark in  the park. Also, thank god it doesn’t look like the gross kinds we have in America. I would never ride a roller coaster inside one of those. Fuck you.


(Now I’m Googling Finnish water towers and all of their water towers are like sculptures, quirky architectural feats. Fill a coffee table book with ’em, they’re so photogenic and not GROSS AND LOOMING like ours. Ugh.)

Anyway, we took a tram from our apartment and then had to walk for maybe 10 minutes or so before reaching the park. I will never complain about walking while on vacation – it’s truly the best way to experience a new city! If we had taken a bus all the way there, Chooch couldn’t have mocked whoever this Paavo Nurmi pal is.

J/K guys, of course I know that he was a Finnish Olympic running man pal.

Totally without Googling just now.

Actually, guess where he was from, spefically?

TURKU, the city that Henry RUINEDU. That actually does a ring bell now, know that he’s from Turku because in one of the many travel videos I watched in preparation for our day in Turki that never happened, I remember seeing some monument to an Olympic runner and honestly, how many Olympic runners could Turku possibly have produced?

This underpass had cool murals and did not even have a HINT of a piss stench like Pgh underpasses.

I’m not sure we took the best walking route to the park, but after hiking up a hill (Vesilinnanmäki amirite??), we made it to the entrance! The timestamp on my phone says we arrived at 3:24PM.

Tervetulua! (One of the only words I remember from the one solid week of Finnish I limped through on Duolingo.)

After getting our wristbands, we went STRAIGHT for Taiga which is located near the entrance so good for us, etc. etc. The queue itself was amazing, but since there was barely a line at all, we didn’t really get to take much of it in. I mean, I’m not complaining! Apparently, “taiga” is a type of bird in Finland, I think.

There was a brief line that we had to wait in only because it was one-train ops, and right away, we noticed that SAM from our Norden Coaster Trip was in line for the front row! He spotted us too and actually left his spot to run back and say hi to us and my heart, you guys. My heart. He fist-bumped Chooch and me, and then also Henry which was an “ugh why” moment, but still – it was so fun to see a familiar face!

He said he had been at the park all day and was just marathoning Taiga at this point, having already collected all of the other coaster creds. It was such a whirlwind – he IS SO HIGH ENERGY that all I remember was him just spraying us with excited sentiments while shaking his head in his That’s So Sam manner, telling us to look him up if we ever come to LA, and then running back to reclaim his spot. I didn’t even have a chance to ask him if he was with anyone! I guess not, because he was one of the singles on our trip. We somehow never saw him again after that so that was sad. :(

No^^^This one is a BIG NOPE. Imagine the most Wild Mouse-type of coaster you’ve been on, probably in like a mall parking lot for your local town’s traveling carnival, right? Where you’re thinking you’re gonna tip right over the edge every time it whips around a hairpin turn? Now imagine that same ride, but the car purposely tips and tilts as it careens along the track.

That’s this piece of shit ride.


Right next to it is the park’s power-coaster mine train which was fine! Henry was pissed though because Chooch and I left him in the dust and got on a train before him and he had to wait for the next one even though there was still room on ours?? He was acting like such a fucking martyr about it too. He PURPOSELY stayed back in line rather than follow us onto the platform. Well, his mistake because since he was on the train after ours, I was able to stand at the exit and film him riding a family coaster alone with a frown on his face :)  Video compilation to come!

STAN LOONA! It’s still crazy to me how worldwide popular Kpop is now. Also is it weird that I want to join the Kosogang without knowing anything about it?? I just spent an absurd amount of time thinking about it.

This was in line for the park’s Mauer spinning crazy mouse – SALAMA. Um….did I enjoy this ride better than Taiga?? I THINK I DID?? Don’t get me wrong, Taiga was great – great layout, great launch – but am I becoming too snobby?? Too hard to impress?? I think what I want to say is, come for Taiga, stay for the rest. Because honestly, if it wasn’t for Taiga, I’m not sure this park would have even been on our radar, and what a PITY (lol, I will never say that in full seriousness, has to be backed by major drama kid emotion) that would have been because damn you guys, just DAMN, this ended up being one of my favorite places on the whole trip.

Linnanmaki, you are a fucking BABE AND A HALF. Be my forever Valentine.

Chooch Up Close.

The family that ignores each other….fights less together? I dunno. Still seems like we fight a lot. However, we were like besties the entire time we were at Linnanmaki. It was just that good. Totally brought us together. Aw, the audience says collectively.

The garbage and recycling bins!! Love you, Finland.

Each section of the park was themed so well. The landscaping was on point. Bathrooms were spotless. Employees were delightful. There weren’t even any annoying park guests!

This is the subject of my current gem art project, which is twice as big as the ones I’ve done in the past so RIP my back. But yeah, you know I’m always down to clown. This darkride was fun and the cars were like suspended half eggs, which was very cool (I have video, you’ll see!) but overall it was just one scene after another of clowns doing stuff, like cleaning up elephant shit? It was nice but not very memorable. Except for the elephant shit part, I guess.

There’s another dark ride over by Taiga and THAT one was a real treat though! It was themed after a haunted hotel and I loved it.

Not as death-trappy as some of the other fun houses we got banged up in on the trip, but idiot Chooch temporarily lost his phone in the exit slide because it fell out of his pocket and didn’t make it all the way down the slide. Someone had to fetch it for him, he’s so embarrassing.

Some of the brakemasters that have worked on the famous Vuoristorata coaster! Chooch and I sat in the back, and I thought it was rather delightful, but apparently he and Henry didn’t care for it. Please watch this video – I am so happy that we got to ride two of these (three if the one in Bakken hadn’t recently been updated to eliminate the need for a brakeman!) on this trip. It’s a slice of history! It’s things like this that make amusement parks worth visiting when you’re traveling abroad – you get to experience things you can’t here in the US and isn’t that a huge reason to travel?? I need to remember the next time someone mocks me for planning vacations around roller coasters because up to now, my only comeback has been, “Shut up.”

Fuck this ride too!! Ukko, more like F-Ukko, amirite fellow 5th graders on the same humor level as me. You go up a vertical lift hill and then travel upside down for way too many seconds before finally reaching that twist in the track way up there. I was screaming you guys. Fucking screaming. ONE AND DONE for this broad.

I think I will end on that note for now, since I actually packed this post with LITERAL FACTS and shit, can you believe it?? I always want to go into these posts with all of the 411 but then I get lazy and it’s like, “Here are pictures, we rode stuff, Henry was mean and wouldn’t buy me xyz.”

Nov 122023

I woke up on the ferry Tuesday morning, officially in Finland and also feeling sick. :( I dunno if it was just the air in the cabin or what, because I did eventually start feeling better once I got up and ready. I will say that while the overnight ferry was SO CONVENIENT AND CHEAP, it was also kind of chaotic because you have basically an hour to eat breakfast before the ferry docks around 7:30AM. That…is an early start.

We did pay extra for the breakfast buffet – I think it was $16pp which is not bad, really – after I realized before our trip that it was going to possibly be a bit difficult to find somewhere to eat breakfast once we arrived in Turku. Most of the cafes seemed to open around 10 and I really didn’t see us lasting that long without food. Especially Chooch and me. We be bitches.

But dang, that buffet was chef’s kiss. I mean, every breakfast buffet we had on this vaca up until now was impeccable, delectable, incredible, all of the bles you can think of, I’m not a fucking thesaurus. Sadly, we would be on own for breakfast after this, since we weren’t staying in a hotel in Helsinki.

Don’t worry, we’d survive.



Um, I wrote IN REAL TIME from that morning so you might already know that Henry jacked up my Turku plans and we ended up just taking a train to Helsinki almost immediately after getting off the ferry, but not before standing on a platform for something that Henry “wasn’t sure” was correct and seeing some kid get bit on the stomach by a dog. That was pretty dramatic. I mean, the kid was screaming and crying but the mom was like, “*shrug*” after half-assedly checking for broken flesh, and meanwhile the dog-owner was like a comic cell of the word SKEDADDLE come to life. She and the dog peaced out big quick. I mean, I didn’t blame her. I am always on the dog’s side. Why did he bite that kid? What did that kid do to him? Probably SOMETHING, you know what I’m saying.

I wonder what the law is like in Finland. Here, if that mom would have pressed the issue, that dog probably would have been put down, and I really fucking hate that about America. So,  dogs can’t protect themselves? OK cool. Great.

Anyway, the train ride was about 2 hours, maybe less. Henry slept immediately for the entire duration, Chooch did god knows what on his phone (actually, he spent almost the whole trip doing deep dives into critically acclaimed music lists during all of the bus rides, etc), and I looked out the window marveling at the Finnish landscape.

My first real observation, while Henry tried to explain to the cab driver that morning what we were trying to do is that English didn’t seem to be AS second-language-y as it was in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. So this was our mistake not being prepared with better translated instructions for the driver after becoming way too complacent in the first half of our trip. Ugh, we probably totally came off as “those” kinds of Americans, and I 100% swear to god we are not and do not ever expect our dumb language to be spoken by all.

Fuckin’ English.

I was still kind of annoyed with Henry by the time we got to Helsinki and also nervous to see how scary it was going to be to navigate. Turns out, NOT TOO BAD. We were able to get our luggage locker with success, and this was the first time on the whole trip being in a city where you have to pay to use the public restrooms so that was fun (no really, it was cool!). I haven’t had to do this since I was a kid in…probably Italy? Germany? I can’t remember which other countries had pay-to-use restrooms back then. Definitely only accepted coins back then though, lol!

First impression of Helsinki was that the people were chill and laidback.

I think the subway was easy to use? I seem to recall Henry and Chooch fighting over this a lot but we always seemed to get where we needed to, somehow.

He hates us lololol.

We had some time to kill before our apartment for the week was ready, and it was nearing lunchtime, so we stopped inside Hakaniemen Market Hall for a small bite.

First we walked all the way around both floors to get a good idea of what was offered – a lot, that’s for sure, and quite a few vegan options as well! Chooch and I made friends with an older man who had a booth of his original artwork on postcards and magnets plus general souvenir fare like patches, etc. Of fucking course I didn’t have my credit card so we promised the guy we would be back while we went to fetch Henry who was probably erotically sniffing meat odors somewhere. I’m sure the guy was like, “Mmm, heard that one before,” but we really did come back, after snagging some chocolate samples from another vendor and then collecting Henry.

This reminds me that I need to get my print framed still! I really liked that guy! His Helsinki city art was bright and fun.

Then we went back to the very first food vendor we saw, all the way at the entrance, and got pastries and sandwiches. Isn’t it funny when it works out that way?? I homed in on those pastries as soon as we walked in and plus they had meat-free sandwich options, so it was perf.

It was the perfect lunch.

Chooch was desperately looking for Hoobastank to buy for Bill. Inside jokes, you guys. At the time of this trip, our record player was broken had been broken for a few years and Henry kept saying he was going to buy a new one. Our other one was legit from the 70s or 80s and worked so well, but then the needle broke and apparently in this modern area, replacing a needle on an old turntable costs as much as buying a new, good record player. So anyway, every time I told Chooch, “Why don’t you buy something for yourself,” he would say AND PLAY IT ON WHAT?? Anyway, like a month after coming back, Henry finally bought a new one, so I bet Chooch is kicking himself. Dude, I was still buying records the whole time our player was broken! I didn’t understand Chooch’s logic, but then again, I don’t usually understand him at all, ever, so why am I even wasting time typing words and thoughts and feelings about this.

Just can’t escape that piece of shit!

Dude, the amount of times we would be in the area of Helsinki’s Central Station over the next three days….

Anyway, we eventually retrieved our luggage from the locker and figured out which streetcar we needed to get to our apartment, which was in an old building with a super scary vintage elevator, and a mini-geocache sesh was required to procure the key from its hidden spot. It was a very small studio with a double bed and a futon but it was worth it for the amount of time we were actually there, and the neighborhood was so quiet with lots of conveniences nearby, like small markets, cafes and restaurants. And there were bus and trolley stops within walking distance too so I wasn’t mad about it.

View from the window.

Here’s a map for reference.

Taka-Töölö!! I love that name so much!

Anyway, after getting settled in the apartment, it was time for our first Finnish amusement park! STAY TUNED. This park was actually so magical and I think about it lovingly at random parts throughout the day. I would love to go back! It had VIBES, man. VIBES.

Nov 082023

Remember in my last post when I was like, “Hi this is the last chapter for the Sweden section of these vacation recaps” and you guys were like, “Thank god, please tell us the end is nigh, these posts are boring and tedious”? Well, I lied. But we’ll run through this one right quick, aye aye.

When we were originally planning the second half of this trip, we were going to fly from Stockholm to Helsinki, and then we tossed around the idea of flying into Tallinn, Estonia. But then we realized that, for basically the cost of one plane ticket, all three of us could take an overnight ferry, cabin included, from Stockholm to Turku (I dunno why, but I had my heart set on going to Turku first and then taking a train to Helsinki). Literally, this cost us under $200, the Viking Glory was AMAZING – like a mini-cruise ship, and it was pretty comfortable.

The best part is that it made our canceled Norway ferry trip sting a bit less knowing that we would still have the opportunity to do the overnight ferry thang later on in the trip.

Wow, I just realized that there are NO PHOTOS OF ME on the Viking Glory.

Before the ferry departed, we got some drinks and chilled on the desk, listening to an actual good DJ who played a sick remix of In the Air Tonight. It felt like legit vacation times, finally. Chooch ditched us to give his friends a tour of the ferry via Facetime, and Henry and I actually acted like we were a real couple, enjoying our drinks and talking about our trip so far, our favorite coasters, the Coaster Crew – it was SO RELAXING and made me think, “Could I do a real cruise one day maybe???”

I dunno. Overnight on a large ferry in the Baltic Sea was one thing. I’m not sure about a full scale cruise though!

I felt really choked up and sentimental watching Stockholm fade into the distance.

But! I was excited to wake up in Finland, for sure. Finland is one of those countries that I always thought would be interesting to visit but I can’t imagine any scenario when we would wake up one day and decided to plan a trip there for no reason. I am so so so so so glad that this Coaster Crew trip happened and this became a viable option!

For anyone considering a Sweden/Finland trip, I do highly recommend doing the overnight ferry. If we had flown, we would have had to pay extra for our bags, PLUS get a hotel for that night in Finland. It would have cost so much more than what we paid for the ferry.

We had a good dinner on board too! There were numerous choices, and a lot of veg/vegan options as well.


Mmm…a greasy meatless culinary delight!

I imagine if you do the day trip, there’s a lot more action, but I didn’t want to spend an entire day of our trip stuck on a boat, you know?

Anyway, that will FINALLY do it for Sweden. Here is a video collection of our non-Coaster Crew day in Stockholm:

Nov 062023

Yo, guys. You’ll never believe it. I think this might be the last of the Sweden series and then we can move on to a new locale! That being said, I will try to keep this snappy and concise.

As you can see from the photos, we had some more subway funway after lunch. I think Henry was scared that I was going to become obsessed with Stockholm’s subway system and ask him to re-design the Seoul Subway Sign, but Mona, I’m here to tell you that I don’t think anything will ever dethrone ANY part of South Korea from my heart’s top spot. Honestly.

I did enjoy exploring the public transportation in Sweden, though. It was clean and, not that any of this ever falls on me, but it seemed pretty easy to navigate? Henry? Chooch? You wanna weigh in on that*?

*(LOL as if they read this. Trust me, the last thing they want is to relive their life events through my blurry kaleidoscope* eyes.)

*(OK the way that I spelled that correctly on the first try, no hesitation, like it’s my middle name, but then I misspell common, everyday words in every single blog post. Got it.)

I could go for some Swedish chocolate bars right about now.

Subway shot.

We went back to Skeppsbron, where we had caught the ferry earlier, in order to have honest to god fika at Skeppsbron Bageri which evidently has the “city’s best cinnamon rolls.”

They were good! We got the OG cinnamon and also cardamom, which I have to say was my favorite roll variety everywhere we went. I just REALLY enjoy me some cardamom.

In a much better mood for photos after fika, that’s for sure. I have to laugh though because the whole point of fika is to take a break during the day to have coffee and a treat with family and/or friends. You’re supposed to slow it the fuck down, put your phone away (probably, I’m making the rules up as I go), maybe play some old school hangman on the back of a receipt, etc. But that’s supposing that you’re there with someone whose company you enjoy. I’m…not sure you can say that about the three of us, lol. So basically we chilled for about 20 minutes, probably didn’t talk – actually, I have a FAINT memory of verbally eviscerating Henry for preparing my coffee improperly and him saying THEN GET IT YOURSELF NEXT TIME.

Can you even imagine? The audacity. The sheer gall.

Walking around, walking around.

Literally every street is gorgeous in Gamla Stan.

You know what’s crazy and I just realized it while looking at a map? Gamla Stan is right next to an area (neighborhood?) called Norrbro which a Hipstamatic film pack is named after. I’ve also been to a place in South Korea that one of the film packs is named after (Hongdae)!

Also, yes, I still use Hipstamtic almost exclusively to edit my photos, how 2010 of me, I know. I actually created my own “favorite” action and named it Gamla Stan!

We took the subway back to a bigger, more modern area called Norrmalm because I wanted to continue my futile search for Beartown. We must have went to three bookstores and one salesclerk said, “Oh, another store has it – we can have it shipped here for you!” and I sadly said, “We’re leaving today.” :(

This was in one of the malls and I thought it was so smart and a great idea! Also in this mall, we went into a toy store to buy Pippi merch and happened to wander downstairs where I found a rack of name stickers and one of the names was Saga, which is the name of one of my friend’s daughters – I couldn’t believe it! What are the odds that I’d randomly spin a rack of stickers with no agenda, just kind of in passing, and it stops spinning on Saga?? I guess that name must be popular in Sweden?? Anyway, I totally had to buy it even though I have never met Saga! My friend’s other daughter’s name is Ophelia but they sadly didn’t have her name in sticker-form. I got her cute unicorn stickers though because I might be a jerk and lacking in a lot of areas, but I at least know that you can’t buy one little sister a present without getting something for the other too. Come on, now. You’re talking to Erin Kaleidoscope Kelly here.

We had a LITTLE bit of time left before we needed to return to the hotel to grab our luggage and get our asses to the ferry, which was scheduled to depart at 8PM with or without us American schmucks.  So we just strolled around and soaked up as much Stockholm vibes and vapers as possible.

I gotta cut that bitch out of the background. She looks so stern! I hate it.

Guys. You know what’s funny? I just realized, looking at this photo on the map on my phone, that this was Norrbro, lol. Nothing like getting your bearings two and a half mths after you left to come back home.

There is so much I wanted to do here, but with less than a full day, it was impossible to even scratch the surface.

Back at the Sheraton to claim our luggage and use the bathroom in the lobby real quick, where Chooch got to report a “poop incident” to the front desk and this time THANKFULLY it wasn’t his own. I didn’t see it because the restrooms weren’t unisex but Henry said it looked like someone opened the stall door and just bent over and sprayed the wall with their ass. So….similar to my story in the last post re: puking in the restroom of the science center after the viking movie gave me motion sickness! FULL CIRCLE.

Kind of.

Nov 052023

After my anger subsided re: GAMLA STAN PHOTO OP FAIL, things got a lot better. Well, sort of. The plan was to go to the Vasa Museum but then Chooch downloaded some app that Coaster Crew people told him about and he decided that in addition to counting coaster creds, he needed to start counting ALL RIDE credits. And this app listed all rides in general, even if they aren’t in a traditional amusement park. So this is how he found out that the Viking Museum has a dark ride whcich counts as a credit.

I gotta admit that the prospect of visiting a museum solely for a dark ride was tempting and probably definitely something that I would suggest anyway. So I was on board.

First though, we had to walk past some woman protesting in front of the royal palace, burning a book, and shouting about how Sweden killed her mother. Not really sure what was going on there but it didn’t seem fun.

The Viking Museuem is on the same island-thingie (archipelago or whatever) that Grona Lund is on so we got to see it from the water which was amazing!

Ugh, I wish we could have popped in for an hour or two!

I don’t have too much to note re: the Viking Museum. It was small, not too crowded which was nice, and pretty interesting. I have a love/hate with museums though. I usually walk in all gung-ho to do some learning, fill my empty headspace with some cold hard facts, but tend to run out of steam after one room.

There were some good photo ops here though!

I kept thinking about the time I was pregnant and Henry and I drove to Columbus to go to the science center with two dumb people we no longer associate with because they turned out to be terrible humans. While there, we watched some Omnimax thingie about Vikings and the combination of the CHERRY SLUSHIE I had earlier and the full theater screens made me so nauseous that I had to run out of the theater to the bathroom. I was just about .05 seconds too late though and instead of puking in the toilet, I puked ON the toilet, on the floor, etc. It was a bad scene man. I felt awful about it.

So yeah, vikings. Barf.

And I got to learn how to write my name using the Viking alphabet!

The dark ride itself was actually pretty cool, I’m not going to lie.

I started to get HANGRY at this point though. The ferry ride was back was annoying because some dumb bitch – also a tourist – was like, “Excuse me” and I thought she needed to scoot past me or something so I stepped aside and she STOLE MY SPOT on deck?! I was like, “Hello bitch, really?” I think she was FRENCH. I made sure to stand REALLY CLOSE to her so that her sightseeing was as uncomfortable as possible.

I loved that ferries were part of the public transportation system!

After this, we got to take the subway, which was not that bad but also not Seoul. Henry and I just had a real time argument about the order of transportation but I’m pretty sure what happened was that we took the subway, walked to a burger place that has vegan option but then I was like I DIDN’T KNOW THIS WAS FAST FOOD I DON’T WANT THIS and Chooch was like JESUS CHRIST HERE WE GO so then we continued to walk aimlessly which you’d think was our preferred mode of transportation while traveling.

Anyway, we found a used book store in our search for lunch. One of my Swedish quests was to find a hardback Swedish copy of Beartown but shoooooo, that was not easy. I struck out in Gothenburg too but hoped that I would have better luck in Stockholm. The bookstore clerk suggested that we try a mainstream book store and directed us down the street but we all needed food in a bad way so we put that on the backburner and trudged along in search of food that we could all agree on.

Which ended up being some rando bistro called Snaps, an establishment that was so mediocre and unmemorable that I had to look at the geotag of the following pictures to even determine the name of the place.

We had to order at the outdoor bar and I was like, “WELL SINCE WE’RE STANDING HERE AT THE BAR, WHY DONTCHA WHIP ME UP AN ELDERFLOWER SPRITZ” so then Chooch had to get a non-alcoholic bevvie to look cool, I guess.

You know what’s funny is that it’s almost like Henry didn’t exist in this part of the day, lol. I have no pictures of him at all and have no idea what he even ate.

Chooch and I both got the fake chicken sandwich, and it was fine. I was just content to be sitting outside in nice weather and feeding my fat face.

Of course, this was the one day that I wrote NOTHING about in my vacation journal so I could be leaving out some major facts here but oh well. That’s what happens when I wait nearly three mths at this point to recap this idiot journey.

Oct 302023

Our first day without Coaster Crew was SO FUCKING SAD. Henry and I hung out at the hotel lounge the night before for a bit – Pam and Sherry were sitting at the bar so we joined them even though the bar was JUST CLOSING when we got there. Ugh! I blame Chooch because he made us go out and get him McDonald’s and also we had to get saline solution finally because it was a NOW OR NEVER situation at that point. We saw Pam and Sherry at the bar as we were leaving and figured we had time. WRONG I guess. I don’t know if it’s because it was a Sunday night or what, but it seemed like the bar was closing early-ish?

Anyway, some old man was also at the bar, TOTALLY trying to pick up Pam. It was fucking hilarious. Sherry was like, “Good luck with that,” and left. I feel like he said he owned a shoe store or something and even gave me his email address too, which I promptly left in the hotel room. “Do you want this?” Henry asked the next morning while packing, holding up the scrap paper with the email address.

I just looked at him liike, “What do you think?” so he tossed it.

Anyway, Tim, Brandon, Ally, and Jeremy were also hanging out in the lounge. It was a somber evening. Everyone was just quietly nursing their drinks. Tim came over and thanked me for the note I wrote on the back of the Liseberg print, having read it by then. It was also the first time we really talked to Jeremy, and he was so great. I wish I could rewind time, go back to the beginning, and talk to everyone more. HINDSIGHT, etc.

The next morning, I woke up in a foul mood because sometimes that’s how I project sadness: full-throttle bitchiness. We went down to breakfast and it was another MAGNIFICANT buffet but…it was missing Coaster Crew (I did see Amy and her husband down there, and even though we never talked to them – they really kept to themselves mostly – it was nice to see familiar faces). Still, the food was so good and I wish I could go back JUST for these amazing Scandinavian breakfast buffets. They were such a highlight.

We ended up sitting next to an American? Canadian? family – parents and two young kids. I didn’t really pay much attention to them, but Henry and I got up together at one point to get more FOODZ and when we returned, the parents were laughing and conversing with Chooch who was in the process of trying to SAW OFF one of his park wristbands with a BUTTER KNIFE. I was like, “Jesus, I thought we were safe leaving you alone for a minute now that you’re SEVENTEEN but apparently not!”

“Maybe you should ask the front desk if they have scissors!” the dad suggested with a laugh.

We left shortly after that and I made a big production of telling the family to have a nice day (and by “big production” I mean that I said, “Have a nice day guys!” with a fake smile since I was still trying to hold back COASTER CREW tears). As we passed through the lobby, Chooch stopped to have someone at the front desk assist with the wristband removal operation, and then as we got on the elevator to pop back into our room before checking out, THE FAMILY ALSO GOT ON THE ELEVATOR so then I was stewing in awkward sauce having JUST went out of my way to say goodbye to them, and now I had to do it again??

Henry and Chooch will tell you that it wasn’t that big of a deal, but I must have replayed this moment over and over in my head for like 3/4 of the day. This is what we call AN AFFLICTION.

Checked out. Got our luggage tagged so that we could pick it up later when it was time to get the ferry to Finland. Embarked on our walk to Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s iconic Old Town, which was pretty close to our hotel and actually even closer than we initially thought, as we would accidentally discover later that day.

But let’s just look at pictures of Gamla Stan because even though I was in such a bad mood, I did get over it and I actually love these pictures so much even though there was a lot of BICKERING that went on behind the scenes.

We really didn’t think we were going the right way, and then suddenly:

This square is REALLY iconic, total Instagram spam. It’s always crazy seeing sites like this in person because they often seem so much smaller in real life. This was one of those times. I thought it was so beautiful and was so excited to be there but also – it was just a very small square!

It was still really early in the AM so we beat the tourists, but the lighting was also bad since it was so early. You take what you can get, right?

We walked through here a few hours later and it was PACKED. I think this is where the arguing started. Sometimes I get so frustrated when it comes to photos and I know IT’S SO FUCKING STUPID because truly no one else cares but me, but in my very busy and loud headspace, all I can think about is wanting – nay, NEEDING – the perfect shot because what if we never come back here?? And every time Henry took a picture, we were covered in shadows. He kept yelling, “YOU CAN EDIT IT LATER!!” but I wanted to be PERFECTO from the GETGO.

This one was less bad because Chooch took it but it still wasn’t what I wanted and I was getting frustrated. This went on for probably 15 minutes – look, I’m laying it all out for you. I was being a fucking BRAT. I was. I admit it. Henry, if you’re reading this  – SHUT IT. I still think you take terrible pictures of me!! But I was overreacting bigly.

I just wanted to have one nice picture of Chooch in this square. You never know, one day he might actually care and want to show his future spouse these old dumb pictures.

Not even pretending to smile at this point, lolololol. I bitched because Choocg “cut the tops of the buildings off” and he was like, “Take it yourself, I’m out” and then literally left us there arguing and went to look at souvenir shops.

The Nobel Prize Museum opened while I was trying in vain to show Henry how to take the picture I wanted of myself and he just couldn’t fucking do it, his sausage-fingers kept rejecting any angle that wasn’t making me look like My 800 Lb Life so he would revert back to his usual way of setting up the shot and I looked so homely and PISSED probably because I ACTUALLY AM ONE OF THOSE THINGS 24:7 AND THE OTHER THING I AM MOST OF THE TIME.

I wonder how many times I ended up in the background of someone else’s photos, making stank face, radiating with SPOILED AMERICAN BITCH syndrome.

I took this photo as an example of what I wanted but Henry FAILED. Oh well, at least we got a decent shot of HIM out of the miserable process. Ugh.

Things got better from here after we left the square. And by that, I do mean “after I stormed off and acted like I had ANY IDEA where I was going.”

I pretended to be really interested in these monuments while Henry and Chooch casually strode behind me at a safe distance, knowing that I would eventually come around and not bothering to coddle me. WHICH I HATE. Sometimes I WANT THE CODDLING.


I let them catch up to me and decided that I’d give up on my search for a flight back to America that day and maybe go shopping for souvenirs instead. Plus, Henry and Chooch were like, “Coffee?” and I’m always up for coffee. So now we had a new plan to replace my TAKE FANTASTIC PHOTOS IN THAT GAMLA STAN THING quest.

You know, moving on and all that.

I was still pissed off, but what can you do?? The live version of this photo is hilarious because my smile is replaced SO QUICKLY with the most unflattering grimace/scowl and I completely walk away, lol.

These little alleyways though! I could have probably spent the whole day just poking around this area.

Henry chose this cafe and got completely ripped off by the old guy / owner. Lol. I know Sweden is notoriously expensive but I’m pretty sure the going rate for two coffees from some no-name alley cafe is not $25. Good one, Henry. More photos from here over in my last post re: photos from the “good camera.”

I loved this shop so much! It’s called Hilda Hilda. I bought Sue a dachshund print pouch because I just couldn’t pass it up. It was too cute and I loved that it’s quite literally made in Sweden as the tag says. See above for evidence!

I linked the shop – ya just gotta check it out, man. Ya just gotta.

We should have gone to THIS cafe!

Anyway, after shopping for about an hour (and running into Scott and Judy!) it was time to move out of Gamla Stan and explore some other areas. So, look forward to that post I guess.

Oct 282023

Hello here are some photos I took with the ‘good’ camera in Stockholm – mostly around the Gamla Stan area. Some of these were also taken by Henry I guess because I was making him carry the camera and he took that as an invitation to play travel fotog I guess. Anyway,  I have a bunch of pictures on my phone too that I haven’t gone through yet so I will post something more comprehensive soon but I can tell you right now that the first hour or so was BAD NEWS BEARS. I was in such a shitty mood because Henry wasn’t following any of my direction when I was asking him to take a picture of Chooch and me and it was actually embarrassing. Just didn’t want to give the impression that everyone was so fucking perfect OMG family vacation yee haw.


Oct 272023

Spoiler but not: I end up crying, lol.

I kept seeing ads for a Pippi circus while we were in Stockholm!! The original Swedish Pippi movie was Kelly Family Favorite back in the 80s. My brother Ryan and I used to watch it A LOT and make fun of it, but also I was low-key terrified by it??

Yo, Grona Lund is so freaking beautiful. Vaguely reminiscent of Indiana Beach in that it sits along water, but um, obviously Stockholm trumps anything in Indiana (sorry, Indiana peoples) so I’m going to have to give Grona Lund the win here. The beautiful thing about nearly every park we visited on this trip is that they have so much aesthetic appeal and the rides are almost secondary to the experience of just BEING THERE. I can see Grona Lund being a place where people would go just to walk around, eat, enjoy being next to the water, bickering with people on Reddit over the Lost finale.

I don’t know, just seems like a peaceful locale to really settle in for some comment section belligerence.

They have THREE DIFFERENT TYPES OF DROP TOWERS. Calm down, Grona Lund.

Being tormented by MOMMY as usual. I think he was pissed because some of the cool guys from our group were sitting nearby, drinking beers and he didn’t want to be seen being mommy’s monkey.

Me looking old AF because news flash, this was not a chill, relaxing vacation lol.

We would be on that ferry in approx. 24 hours from when this picture was taken!

Yeah like imagine going here on a date, you know? Shit, son, how romantic!

If I had brought the good camera into the park with us, I would have made Chooch stand here for senior portraits. What a missed opportunity. Notable about this bridge though is that it was the FIRST TIME of the trip we had a convo with Alex from Coaster Spot! Well, technically Chooch had previously conversed with him AND ridden with him too probably, OK cool guy.

But anyway, he was filming stuff and then stopped to say something to us, I can’t remember what, but we started chatting and then I blurted out ARE YOU COASTER SPOT and he very reluctantly admitted that yes, yes he is. I’m a subscriber of his YouTube channel but he is notoriously ALWAYS behind the camera and usually only films his wife. I had THOUGHT that they were going to be on this trip but then when 2 days passed and I never saw his wife, I figured they didn’t come. But then SOMEONE on the bus said he was on the trip and I was like, “WHAT.” One day, Henry was standing near him and recognized his voice and said to me later, “Hey I think that’s Coaster Spot” and I was like, “no way, his wife isn’t here…” but yeah, it really was him! Anyway, he very bitterly said, “[XXXXX] outed me” and I said, “Yup,  that’s exactly how I heard you were here.”

Apparently, that same person is an absolute menace to coaster personalities on the internet and a lot of them had to block him. But it was a bonding moment, lol. And then he said, “You should have talked to me sooner!” and I wanted to be like, “Well, you were always with the girl who hates me, so.”

He hasn’t posted a single video yet from this trip but I’m really looking forward to it because he does a lot of walk-thrus whereas the other guys heavily edit theirs. I want to be able to relive more of the experience by watching someone’s walk-thru!!

Stockholm carouselfie!! This carousel was a tiny baby thing.

We had fun in kiddie land!

I think LARRY took this! We were riding with Dawn, Robert, Arnold and Eamon!

Plus a random dad and kid who got stuck riding this with a bunch of Coaster Crew dumbos lol. We kept hand-slapping every time we went around a bend since the train would curve, but I could never reach anyone!!

Chooch and I caused a scene when we rode this and were the only ones who couldn’t get their elephant to fly. People were laughing at us and I really wanted to bury my head in the sand, or in Dumbo’s butt.

Random collection of Beatles artifacts.


Wow, Henry is so cool.

At one point, Chooch and I were in line for something and looked down (a lot of the rides have elevated stations) and saw Marshall sitting on a bench, smoking. “Did he even ride anything on this trip?” Chooch mused out loud. “All I ever see him doing is sitting down and smoking. ‘Hmm, I wonder what it would be like to smoke cigarettes in Sweden. *signs up for trip*'”

This trip turned Chooch into a stand-up comic. I mean, he’s always made me laugh, but this was next level guffawing.


We made Henry go on the fairy dark ride since he skipped out the first time and it was his favorite ride at Grona Lund in case you needed it to support the Henry’s Nude Fairy Fetish section of your “Henry: Inside the Mind of a Man & His Beard” dissertation.

Man, did this day go by quick. (You would never know based on how long it took me to recap it, Jesus Christ, get it together, Erin.) But I will always remember how it ended: It was getting close to the end of the night so we decided to get a final ride on Monster. It was a walk-on for the back row and Sam ran over and asked if he could ride with us. Of course we said yes! That kid is soooo full-throttle adrenaline, I swear to god. It’s contagious. So we were all pumped up by the time we returned to the station and the ride attendants said we could stay on if no one was waiting for our row. NO ONE WAS! So me, Chooch, and Sam stayed on but Cry Baby Henry got off. That was fine though because Dewey came and sat with me! It was my first time talking to him the whole trip so we bonded as best as we could in the short amount of time we had left.

“I really think I’m going to cry!” I yelled across my restraints. And he said, “I know, I can’t believe it’s our last night!”

And you guys. You guys. You guys you guys you guys. Almost the whole train was Coaster Crew, last ride of the night, and we were shrieking, “Coaster Crew! Coaster Crew!”

It was so fucking wholesome. So pure. And Henry missed it!

After that, we all gathered around near the front of the park, waiting to get back on the bus. It was a sad drive back to the Sheraton. A bunch of us talked outside while Tim handed out our room keys and then we had to go to the luggage storage room to grab our shit because we had dropped everything off prior to going to Grona Lund since we weren’t going to have the same bus bringing us back. Or something. I can’t remember. This is a boring detail anyway.

I made Chooch take pictures of Pam and me. I MISS HER MOST OF ALL. I’m crying right now, LOL. Ugh.

Anyway, after this, I gave Tim the special Liseberg print I got him with the thank you note I scribbled on the back. He was like, “Should I read this now?” and I screamed “NO!!” but the gesture alone made him tear up and then I teared up and then we were both tearing up and hugging and he called us a sweet family which made me laugh but it came out as a blubber on account of all the tearing up.

Jesus Christ, I can’t handle it. There wasn’t much more that I wanted to say here but I will include it in the beginning of the next post which was A PARK-FREE day, can you even believe it?? And I will leave you with this comprehensive video of the second half of this day. I will warn you – the beginning of this is a LOT of “bus window scenery” content. SORRY but I thought everything was so beautiful and I didn’t want to forget it OK?? Sue me.

Oct 242023

Before I continue onto part 2 of Grona Lund, I want to tell you about the craziest, most terrifying, and BEST MOTHERWHOMPING fun house I have EVER conquered. But let me tell you – that mother almost conquered ME. Those steps in the beginning?? I have never done ones that were this steep and intense but when I say I couldn’t get a groove and almost fell backward twice – I’m not kidding you guys, I probably would have had to go to the hospital. Or worse.

I had the whole “I dreamt I was falling” full body shudder / panic as I started to fall back and I have never grabbed on to anything so tight before in my life.

Whooooo boy. And you people thought I was going to die on a shady Nordic coaster. Nope. Moving funhouse steps? Way more likely.

By the time I got NEARLY to the top, I got a rhythm going and figured out how to just ride it out by coasting on one step at a time. I had no game plan or strategy when I started at the bottom, just forged ahead like gangbusters, and nearly did a full split as the steps pulled my legs in opposite directions and just…kept going.

That was unpleasant.

Shit you guys – this was probably the best fun house I’ve been in. I haven’t done any of the other crazy ones in Germany or Prater in Vienna, though. So, for now, I think this is my #1 as far as fun houses go, lol. And the best part is that you’re in there for a substantial amount of time!

The grand finale slide thing called for a souvenir magnet.

Oct 232023

Guys, this is it. We’ve reached the last part of the Coaster Crew portion of our Scandinavia & Beyond coaster trip. I was so excited to get to Stockholm, but hoo-boy was it bittersweet!

On the drive to Grona Lund from Kolmarden, I was whisper-hissing back and forth to Chooch from across the aisle of the bus because we HAD to give away some of the chocolate he won at Liseberg. I mean, it was either that or bring upon extreme diarrhea trying to eat it all ourselves rather than try and fly home with it in a few days. That giant box had FOUR DOUBLE-LAYERED boxes inside of it. So much chocolate. And you guys, it was GOOD chocolate too. I think I mentioned this already but when I looked those assortment boxes up online, they sell for over $30 a box.

And we had FOUR of them.

We kept two for ourselves and I passed around the other two to everyone on the bus because I am apparently the spokesperson of our family. Chooch REFUSED to initiate this chocolate-sharing experience. Some of the REALLY COOL GUYS were sitting in front of me and I was SWEATING. Aside from Mark and Hunter, I didn’t really make much contact with these guys so I was like, “ARE THEY GOING TO SNEER AT ME AND BE LIKE WHY WOULD WE WANT YOUR CHOCOLATE, LADY?” But no! It was the opposite! I tapped one of them (Jeremy I think?) on the shoulder and said, “Hey, do you guys want to take some of this and pass it around? We can’t take all of this home with us!” and they were like “YES PLEASE YAY CHOCOLATE!” I gave the other box to the guys behind me (who I was shipping so hard, btw) and they each selected a piece and passed it back like you normally would, while the cool guys in front of us were taking this VERY SERIOUSLY, reading every description, discussing amongst themselves…Chooch texted me and was like, “Good one, they’re never going to pass it on.” They did though and we STILL ended up having some chocolate left in one of the boxes.

It was so fun though, hearing everyone being stoked for surprise bus chocolates.

This is why I love group trips! We gotta start doing these more. There are benefits to also traveling solo / without a tour group, but being on this bus with these amazing people really made me sentimental. I loved the organized group trips of my youth, like when I met Olivia, had my first Older Man Crush, and made possibly my first Frenemy, Steve.

We took this group picture as soon as we entered the park and I was like, “Goddammit, don’t cry.” Also, another picture where the Oh Honestlys are not together, LOLOLOL. Seriously, we probably were known behind our backs as the Family Who Was Always Fighting, lol. (To be fair, we actually did not fight that often!) But I think this is a true testament to how comfortable we had become with the group that we didn’t need to be attached to each other like lemmings like we usually are at home.

Coaster Crew: Norden Sub-Crew 4L.

But yeah, Grona Lund, baby! I have watched so much YouTube content of this place over the years that I truly built it up so much in my head. Did it live up? Actually, although it was SMALLER than I imagined, it was more magical than I could have dreamed. It’s located on one of the many archipelagos of Stockholm! One of the ways to access it is by ferry, which we would actually do the next day because there were other things we wanted to do on this particular archipelago (a word that will never not be difficult for me to say, spell, remember. Pretty sure I called it an archbishop at one point).

Views of Monster, the new B&M invert, as soon as you enter. Cameras out: Thoosies gon’ thoosie.

One of the many little alleys of Grona Lund. And more chocolate roulette!

I think there are THREE drop towers here. Insane.

Our first credit was Vilda Musen – Wild Mouse! The people in front of us are Lucas and his friend whose name I never learned but they were sitting on the bus facing us on the way to Kolmarden and coughed the whole time and I’m 100% sure they got me and Chooch sick. Anyway, we rode this with them (I can’t remember how we got separated from Henry – OH I KNOW it’s because we told the ride attendent there were two of us and she sent Chooch and me on the same car as those two and we left Henry behind hahaha) and I said, “Hey it’s our first time riding together, you guys!” and they were like, “Mm heh.”

My giddy charm didn’t penetrate everyone on this trip, sadly.

Ew, I took this for Corey and I don’t think I ever sent it to him but we HATE Machine Gun Kelly and I wanted him to see that he performed there a month prior to us visiting. Ugh. Grona Lund actually holds some pretty amazing concerts. My Chemical Romance even played there!

Oh real quick another fun fact about Grona Lund that I didn’t know until I watched Airtime Thrills’ Kolmarden vlog, but they were actually the park in talks with RMC but since they didn’t have enough room to spare, they BOUGHT land in Kolmarden and had RMC build Wildfire there. In case you were wondering how a zoo in Sweden randomly became home to one of the best coasters in the world.

You know, it might come up one day. At a brewery trivia or something. And then you might win a giftcard to said brewery because that was the question that propelled you to first place. So, you know where to send the THANK CARD. (Or maybe not. But I will give you my address if you ask because I like getting mail.)

(Maybe I’ll just give you Janna’s address because I have been muy paranoid lately.)

Henry and his new family.

The Wild Mouse was pretty good but also scary because these ones always terrify me because of the jankiness. But real talk, if you can see that blue track that interacts with the Wild Mouse track, that belongs to Jetline, a coaster that’s currently standing-but-not-operating (SBNO) because of a fatal accident that occurred literally about a month or two before our trip. Never want to hear about anything tragic happening in a place meant for people to have fun. I don’t know what happened. I tend to cover my ears and sing the LA LA LA song rather than face reality, but man my heart goes out to her family. I think she was a mom there with her kids?

I actually hadn’t heard a thing about this at first but my sister sent me a link to the article and was like DON’T RIDE THIS WHEN YOU’RE THERE. :/

The facade a Kvasten (The Broom), a Vekoma suspended family coaster that was actually a real fucking delight! From the creepy witch hunt station to the smooth ride experience, I highly enjoyed this one! Henry didn’t ride it because he’s a little bitch and thought it was going to be like a shitty Vekoma SLC, so his loss.

Grona Lund is so goddamn charming, I can’t.

The station for Monster was impeccably themed! Also, it was pretty much a walk-on all evening.

House of Nightmares was an upcharge haunted walk-thru – of course we did it. It was decent! Better some of the ones over here that we go to during haunted house season, honestly, and I feel like it was only an extra $5 for each of us? I know it couldn’t have been that much if Frugal Henry opted in.

Basically, this joint has facades on lock. I really felt like I was in another land. I mean, I *was* in another land to me, but you know what I mean. The whole park had fairy tale vibes. Not quite Grimm’s but a similar feel, if you know what I mean? You smrobly don’t and that’s OK.

OK but pretend like you knew what I meant up there and now apply taht aesthetic to the dark rides here at Grona Lund because holy shit. HOLY SHIT. I wish I was still a member of the Darkride and Funhouse Enthusiasts club so I could tell them all about these dark rides of Scandinavia and Finland at their next meeting j/k they didn’t have meetings when I was a member, just events at various parks where the group leader acted like he had no idea who I was even though we interacted with each other for years on Facebook and we visited his home haunt one October?!?

He’s no Tim, that’s for damn sure.

Looking at these photos has me nearly in tears. If I close my eyes, I can almost feel the Grona Lund vibes.

I wish the front of my house looked like this :(

And I wish all of the ceilings in my house looked like this. :(

This is Jetline :/ (The blue track.)

Us having no idea what we were in for.

Us coming out with lots to think about….More on this one later – I have pictures and some video too I think which I’ll put in PART 2 like that’s actually enough to entice you to come back for seconds.

Honestly though. You can keep your shooter dark rides. I want more vintage dark rides like these, please. I wish Kennywood hadn’t:

  1. let Le Cachot burn down;
  2. turned Gold Rusher into a dumb shooter ride;
  3. ruined the Old Mill repeatedly

Come on, Kennywood. Give us an old-ass Sally Darkride with pretzel cars and a musty water smell.

Post-faux-chicken nuggets. I was annoyed because Grona Lund had legit restaurants, but we ate at one of the fast food type of joints probably because Chooch was crying about it. Also, he was probably quoting Mark here for the thousandth time, saying, “Guys, I’m going to marathon Insane all night.”

Insane, by the way, was one of the most fucked up coasters I’ve ever ridden. It’s an Intamin Zack Spin, and well, it was Insane. Plus, I had to pee AND ALMOST PEED MY PANTS ON A COASTER FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, AT THE AGE OF 44.

Which, you know, would make just as much sense if I were 4. I can barely sneeze or, I dunno, do jumping jacks without the risk of peeing my pants these days.

The view from the chicken nugget place. Grona Lund, you da best, girl.

OK, second part forthcoming! Keep prolonging the inevitable, Erin! The trip came to an end, it’s BEEN DONE. Move on with your life. Shit.


Oct 192023

Airtime Thrills posted his Kolmarden video and I am happy to share that here tonight because I just came home from Kennywood and therefore am too tired to post my own content.

I remember LIKE IT WAS YESTERDAY (and you might too if you read my blog yesterday lol) leaving Kolmarden the second day and realizing I was behind Airtime Thrills as he was vlogging and trying desperately to duck. At the end of his video, you can see me taking this picture:

Wow! Really cool, Erin.