Fútboling in Finland: When stuck in an airport for 15 hours…


This year, like last year, I was fortunate enough to have my family come visit me. The plan was for them to come to Helsinki for 4 days, watch me play and then head to Iceland for a 5 day adventure. Unfortunately, I am currently sidelined due to a foot injury so they weren’t able to watch me play. Luckily this didn’t stop us from going all over Iceland and being adventurous tourist like usual. You may be thinking how and the heck I am safely able to travel with a broken foot, rest assured I hobbled along just fine. Early on in my injury I made a conscious decision to stay positive and use this as a challenge rather than dwell on the negatives that come along with any injury. In saying so I made names for the crutches I used everyday (with Selkku’s help) as well as a name for my boot that I have to wear. Not so sure if I can disclose the names for my sticks on this blog but I decided to name my boot black magic. And let me tell ya, Black Magic has traveled. It’s logged in some miles around Helsinki, Stockholm and Reykjavik. This is the first major injury I’ve ever had in my playing career so I really had nothing to compare it to, nor did I know how to act or feel. When soccer is pretty much your whole life it is a very humbling experience to have it stripped away from you. Two things were made painfully obvious over the last six weeks. One, never take for granted your passion because it can be taken away in an instant. For me this just so happens to be playing soccer and competing every day. Two, I really need to start thinking what else makes me happy the way soccer does. Every athlete knows their careers are not everlasting; someday it will be time to put up the cleats and move on. This time away from the sport has made me think about that a little more deeply than before.

But enough of the sad stuff, I still haven’t hit on the title of this blog. Well it’s actually the very reason I am writing now at some random coffee shop in the airport. My mother (I still love you mom) accidently booked my flight for the wrong time so here I am trying to eat up my 15 hours before my flight departs back to Helsinki. To be honest, I couldn’t even be mad at her because it’s a mistake I could of easily made. It really all goes back to the stupid difference in time telling that Americans use versus the rest of the world. So when my supposed flight was leaving today at 1:00 pm (afternoon) it actually was leaving tonight at 1:00 am. Who am I to judge, I’ve missed countless busses in Helsinki because I thought 13:00 meant 3:00 pm.

Abruptly changing the subject, I am still in awe at how beautiful Iceland is. Over our time here were able to see some killer sights, all being extremely picturesque. I know this is cliché to say but the iphone camera just doesn’t do it justice. My family had a rental car so we were able to drive all over the place and experience so much of the unique landscape. Where I am from in the US we have some mountains but nothing like I saw this past week. When you see such remarkable natural landscapes you can’t help but feel small and hungry to explore more and more countries in the world. But I think what made the trip so memorable was the fact that I was able to spend it with my family. It’s tough going six months without seeing them or spending time with them so I am definitely grateful for that.  While every sight we saw was awesome there was one that was particularly cool, that being the infamous Blue Lagoon. Upon arriving you drive about 20 minutes through this super old lava field. Weirdly enough it looks like you’re on a movie set for some post apocalyptic sci-fi thriller, just nothing like I’ve ever seen before. Walking into the building they tell you to pretty much soak your hair in conditioner because the chemicals in the water can cause your hair to be really stiff and hard. In typical fashion my sister and I decided to disregard this tiny disclaimer and our hair is still paying the price. Despite the minor hair issue everything else about the experience was great, including the steam bath, sauna and facemasks provided.  One of the funnier things that happened this trip happened when we entered the sauna. There were three men sitting in there, pretty silent and kept to themselves but definitely looked like they meant business when it came to using the sauna. Just to preface this story its important to note that using a sauna in the US is vastly different than in Finland. For starters saunas are typically in gyms for all to use while keeping your clothes on and hanging for a couple minutes after your workout. We don’t take it nearly as serious as most Finns. So we go into the sauna and my mom commits the first “no no”, which was not closing the door after being the last one to enter. The three men already there mumbled something seeming pretty irritated, rightfully so. Immediately after they spoke I realized they were speaking something familiar, I mean I’m no expert by any means but I know what Finnish sounds like.  Right then and there I started to chuckle to myself because of course my only time running into Finns during the trip would take place in a sauna.

So for now I am going to try to somehow keep myself entertained for hours on end while I await my departure back to Finland. To be honest I’ve gotten pretty darn good at that since my time in Finland.

Moi moi,


 – Rief


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