Friday Weekend Escape to Hungary – Beautiful Budapest (Winter)

 by Marion Ueckermann

How good it’s been to be in Budapest again these past five days and to show my husband, Noel, the sights of this beautiful city. A city of lights, of statues, of amazing architecture, of incredible interiors, of history, of culture, of tempting aromas, and of fun. Truly a fascinating city offering far more than I had ever imagined. Go right now and put a visit to Budapest on your bucket list—you won’t be sorry.

City of Lights: Christmas lights line the city streets, aging buildings, and trams, while spotlights illuminate amazing architecture, bridges, and statues.

1 City of Lights

City of Statues: Heroes, Heroines, Saints, and Kings are forever entombed in a brazen hue.

2 City of Statues

2b City of Statues

City of Amazing Architecture: Castles, Chapels, Basilicas, Hotels, Houses of Parliament, Synagogues, Museums, Stations … they all feature exquisite craftsmanship.

3 Amazing Architecture

City of Incredible InteriorsAlmost every building you enter, whether it be a coffee shop, hotel or basilica has a unique interior. Of special fascination are the roofs. You would have seen some of those from the Basilica photos in last week’s blog. The interior below is from a wonderful coffee shop called Lotz Bookcafe where we each had a speciality hot chocolate…which was literally like drinking melted chocolate.

4 Interiors

City of History: Budapest is a city filled with history but what intrigued me most was the amount of Jewish history. Not surprising though as, prior to the holocaust, Hungary had the largest population of Jews outside of Israel. A huge percentage of these were murdered during the holocaust. Many memorials to the victims have been erected. We saw the mass graves at the Great Synagogue. The thing that touched me most though was the Shoe Statues along the Danube River. During the holocaust, Jews were lined up beside the river, told to take their shoes off, and then shot. Their bodies would be swallowed up by the river below.

5 - Statues 1

5 - Statues 2

City of Culture: Opera is huge in Budapest and very affordable (depending where you sit, of course). The Nutcracker was showing this past week but unfortunately tickets were sold out. We were fortunate though when we visited the Basilica to have an orchestra playing live there.

6 Culture

City of Tempting Aromas: Budapest is alive with aromas. Two of my best were the Chimney Cakes sprinkled with your choice of vanilla, chocolate, almond, cinnamon, walnut, and hot mulled wine in a variety of fruity flavors. Another tempting aroma was chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

7 Tempting Aromas

City of Fun: Christmas markets, an ice rink in the park, Ferris wheel, Segway city tours, Horse drawn carriage rides, Danube River cruises…just a few of the fun things to see and do.

8 Fun Christmas markets

8a Fun Ferris Wheel

A Fascinating City: Budapest is simply fascinating. We went to the Invisible Exhibition where we saw…nothing. For one hour we went about blind as we lived the life of a blind person. We felt our way in pitch darkness through a virtual apartment, then out into the “street” to the market to get fruit. After that we walked through a forest to a woodcutter’s cottage, then to a museum and finally a pub where we ate chocolate and drank a coldrink (if we had coins with which to pay). And of course, our guide was…a blind person. It was a real eye-opener into the world of the visually impaired.

Another fascinating concept we were introduced to was the ruin bars. We visited the most famous one, Szimpla. All over the city, ruined buildings have been “renovated” to be used as bars. As you can see, the ruined look is very much part of the theme of this enormous multi-level, multi-roomed city bar where nothing goes to waste. Bicycle tyres are used for tables, and carrots are sold and served by the bunches instead of peanuts.

Ruin Bars 3

Ruin Bars1

Today, as you read this blog, I’ll be making my way from Helsinki to Lapland, home of Santa Claus. There’s still so much Noel and I want to still see and experience in beautiful Budapest. The fascinating sweet shop I wrote of in my blog last week, the chocolate shop, the drinking chocolate bar, the Peanut Bar (which is actually called “For Sale”), the Turkish Baths, Buda Castle, the Great Market … Thankfully we’ll be back shortly after New Year and we can finish what we started last week—discovering as much as we can of this amazing city.

HelsinkiSunrise_w11668_300 (2)

He needed the island to himself. So did she.

Three weeks alone at a friend’s summer cottage on a Finnish lake to fast and pray. That was Adam Carter’s plan. But sometimes plans go awry.

On an impromptu trip to her family’s secluded summer cottage, the last thing Eveliina Mikkola expected to find was a missionary from the other side of the world—in her sauna.

Determined to stay, Eveliina will do whatever it takes—from shortcrust pastry to shorts—to send the man of God packing. This island’s too small for them both.

Adam Carter, however, is not about to leave.

Will he be able to resist her temptations?

Can she withstand his prayers?

 

Helsinki Sunrise is available to purchase from Pelican Book Group, Christianbook.com, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble

Watch the Helsinki Sunrise book trailer on YouTube.

Watch the Passport to Romance book trailer on YouTube.

Marion Ueckermann1 - SMALLER

Marion Ueckermann’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter (Tyndale House Publishers), Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven, and her debut novelette, Helsinki Sunrise (White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series). Her second Passport to Romance, Oslo Overtures, will be published in 2015.

Marion blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Beauty for Ashes. She belongs to Christian Writers of South Africa and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.

 

Connect with Marion Ueckermann:

Website / Amazon / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Blogs: A Pebble in my Pocket / Foreign Affaire

 

Permission to use images obtained.

Friday Weekend Escape to Hungary – Beautiful Budapest (Summer)

By Marion Ueckermann

1 Budapest -Heroes Square

For weeks I’ve been singing the Budapest song by George Ezra. My heart’s in Budapest…na, na, a doobie doo. The first two lines were all I knew for quite some time (and I’ve discovered incorrectly too). The closer today has come, the more I’ve learnt of the song. Heart is actually house, and doobie doo is actually I’d lose it all.

I’m so excited! Tonight I wing my way up the continent of Africa, and after a brief stop-over in Doha, Qatar, it’ll be only a few more hours until my husband and I land in Budapest. But the Budapest that waits will be very different from the one we visited for a few hours in the summer of 2012. No doubt, the snow covered city (please let there be snow…apparently they’re experiencing a warm winter) will be equally as fascinating, and even more beautiful.

After we had experienced our summer cottage vacation in Finland some thirty months ago, we flew to Budapest where we caught a bus to Romania and spent a week helping to build houses for the Romanian gypsies. But that’s a story for another blog. On the way back to Finland for our long-haul flight home to South Africa, we had a layover of several hours in Budapest. While my hubby stayed at the airport to look after our luggage (he had a sore leg and didn’t want to go sight-seeing), my son, Kyle, his wife, Tiia, and I caught the bus and train into the city center along with two of their missionary friends, Samuel and Sara. I’m so glad we did—not only was it such a beautiful city to see, but it was that visit that drew Kyle and Tiia to set up their office for Re-birth in Budapest.

It is said that Budapest and Prague are two of the most beautiful cities in Europe because they were not damaged by the wars.

Here are some places we saw (unfortunately I don’t know the names of many of the places, but perhaps I’ll get to know some of them on this trip).

The statues on the buildings were fascinating…magnificent works of art.

2 Budapest - Statues

3 Budapest - Statues

I loved the intricate lamp posts, curved streets and paved alleyways.

4 Budapest - Lamps and alleys

This is the beautiful University that my daughter-in-law attended.

5 Budapest - University

A fruit shop, flower shop and pharmacy (yes, that’s what that strange word means).

6 Budapest - Shops

From the moment you spot its spires in the distance, St. Stephen’s Basilica has you spellbound.

7 Budapest - St Stephens Basilica - outside

The artwork of this cathedral is breathtaking—from the large mosaic paved area that greets you outside, to the carvings, sculptures, paintings and pipe organ inside.

8 Budapest - St Stephens Basilica - artwork

One cannot help but stand and stare in awe once inside St. Stephen’s Basilica. The craftsmanship of the architecture and all the trimmings surrounding that is almost inconceivable. It’s simply, beautiful.

9 Budapest - St Stephens Basilica - inside

In one part of the outer area, colorful stained glass windows let light into the room that houses them.

10 Budapest - Stained glass windows

They’re so exquisite that one almost doesn’t notice the strange phenomenon in the room their beauty brightens.

11 Budpaest - Stephen's hand

Inside this glass reliquary lies the right hand of Stephen, the first King of Hungary, in whose honor the basilica is named.

In closing, what would this blog post be if I didn’t post a picture of the famous Danube River. Da-da-da-da-da, la-la la-la… What is it about this city that makes me want to sing all the time?

12 Budapest - Danube River

I trust that you’ve enjoyed taking an escape with me to beautiful Budapest. I am so looking forward to visiting the following places that my son and daughter-in-law have discovered during the time they’ve been living in Budapest: the colorful sweet shop; this death-by-chocolate coffee shop—Noir ChocoBar; the outdoor ice-rink in the city park; and the love lock park at Erzsébet square. Here couples inscribe a lock with their names. The lock is chained alongside a myriad of other locks and then the couples walk hand in hand across the Danube and toss the key into the river.

13 Budapest - Things to do

I plan to visit one of the 80 geothermal springs (medicinal baths) in Budapest this coming week so hopefully I’ll have some photos of those to show in next week’s blog – Winter Budapest.

14 Budapest - Heroes Square K&T

But more than all the awesomeness the beautiful city of Budapest has to offer, I’m looking forward to seeing this beloved sight tomorrow – my son and his wife (who are also my cover models for Helsinki Sunrise).

HelsinkiSunrise_w11668_300 (2)

He needed the island to himself. So did she.

Three weeks alone at a friend’s summer cottage on a Finnish lake to fast and pray. That was Adam Carter’s plan. But sometimes plans go awry.

On an impromptu trip to her family’s secluded summer cottage, the last thing Eveliina Mikkola expected to find was a missionary from the other side of the world—in her sauna.

Determined to stay, Eveliina will do whatever it takes—from shortcrust pastry to shorts—to send the man of God packing. This island’s too small for them both.

Adam Carter, however, is not about to leave.

Will he be able to resist her temptations?

Can she withstand his prayers?

 

Helsinki Sunrise is available to purchase from Pelican Book Group, Christianbook.com, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble

Watch the Helsinki Sunrise book trailer on YouTube.

Watch the Passport to Romance book trailer on YouTube.

Marion Ueckermann1 - SMALLER

Marion Ueckermann’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter (Tyndale House Publishers), Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven, and her debut novelette, Helsinki Sunrise (White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series). Her second Passport to Romance, Oslo Overtures, will be published in 2015.

Marion blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Beauty for Ashes. She belongs to Christian Writers of South Africa and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.

 

Connect with Marion Ueckermann:

Website / Amazon / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Blogs: A Pebble in my Pocket / Foreign Affaire

 

Permission to use images obtained.

Friday Weekend Escape to the Wood, Marble and Bronze of Kerimäki and surrounds

by Marion Ueckermann

It’s good to be here…again…taking you all on another Finnish weekend escape. We’re not travelling far from where we stopped in Savonlinna last weekend, and although some twenty-three kilometers away, the town of Kerimäki was consolidated with Savonlinna two years ago.

But before we leave quaint Savonlinna, there’s somewhere I need to take you first—a park close to the center of town. My husband, Noel, and I had fun here creating our own “Where’s Wally” photos behind this huge bronze statue.

Savonlinna statues

Another interesting statue we found in Savonlinna was close to Olavinlinna Castle. Known as the “Spirit of the Castle,” this tall, full-figure metal statue is of Danish knight, Erick Axelsson Tott, clad in armor and gazing toward the castle he had founded—Olavinlinna. The statue was erected on the Tallisaari Island on the 500th anniversary of the castle.

Danish Knight

Another famous Savonlinna statue is “The Black Ram.” A black ram (or some other sheep) was kept in the castle. The ram was to be served on St. Olaf’s Day as a sacrificial feast, representing a bridge between old pagan traditions and Christian worship. The last ram of the castle died around 1728 by drowning in a river, marking the end of the tradition. This statue was presented to Savonlinna on its 325th anniversary.

The Black Ram

If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to make one last stop at another statue before we head on over to Kerimäki. We had travelled twenty-five kilometers south from Kerimäki. About thirty kilometers (as the crow flies) before the Russian border, we found this fascinating statue outside Punkaharju at Lusto—the Finnish Forest Museum—of an old lumberjack and horse moving enormous logs. Isn’t the detail exquisite?

 Kerimakki statues

In Kerimäki we stopped at a Finnish cemetery. Our friend wanted to visit her father’s grave. I’ve never been in such a beautiful and tranquil cemetery before. Uniformed headstones of even size and shape marked each grass-covered grave, while bright flowers brought color to the dark marble blocks. A forest of trees offered shade to the final resting place of the deceased.

Kerimakki cemetery

Not far from the cemetery, a tall, orangey-yellow and white wooden church reaches nearly thirty-seven meters into the sky. Built between 1844 and1847, the Kerimäki Church is the largest Christian wooden church in the world.

With over 1670 meters of pews, the church seats over 3,000 people and with standing room can hold up to 5,000 at any given time. A short distance from the church there’s a gift shop housed in the bottom of the tower (see right hand insert below).

Kerimakki church

With its pews, columns, galleries, tie-beams, arches, domes and lanterns, this beautiful church is certainly a masterpiece of carpentry.

Kerimakki church inside

Because the church can’t be heated, it’s only used in the summer for services, weddings, festivals and concerts. In 1953, a small church was built beside the huge church so that religious services could be held in the winter. But early on Christmas morning, parishioners gather in the old church and hundreds of candles fill the icy interior with a warm atmosphere.

“Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Contained in the altarpiece, these words of Jesus are the motto of the Kerimäki church.

Kerimakki church inside chest

I loved the true story our friends told us when they took us to the Kerimäki Church of the year that black smoke was seen billowing out of the top tower. The fire brigade was called and the town’s people came to help put out the fire in this wooden church. When the firemen scoured the building they could find no sign of a fire, no smells of a fire, and yet the black smoke was a visible sign of one. Upon inspection up in the tower, they discovered the “black smoke” was actually swarms of mosquitos. In a blog on International Christian Fiction Writers, I wrote about the one thing I never expected in Finland…the infestation of mosquitos in the summer. Seems that year, even the Finns weren’t expecting it.

I trust you’ve enjoyed your visits to Finland, sans mosquitos. In two weeks’ time, I’ll take you on an escape to beautiful Budapest. Hopefully soon, you’ll get to experience a different Finland with me—the winter wonderland including Santa’s home in Lapland.

HelsinkiSunrise_w11668_300 (2)

He needed the island to himself. So did she.

Three weeks alone at a friend’s summer cottage on a Finnish lake to fast and pray. That was Adam Carter’s plan. But sometimes plans go awry.

On an impromptu trip to her family’s secluded summer cottage, the last thing Eveliina Mikkola expected to find was a missionary from the other side of the world—in her sauna.

Determined to stay, Eveliina will do whatever it takes—from shortcrust pastry to shorts—to send the man of God packing. This island’s too small for them both.

Adam Carter, however, is not about to leave.

Will he be able to resist her temptations?

Can she withstand his prayers?

 

Watch the Helsinki Sunrise book trailer on YouTube.

Watch the Passport to Romance book trailer on YouTube

Helsinki Sunrise is available to purchase from Pelican Book Group, Christianbook.com, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Marion Ueckermann1 - SMALLER

MARION UECKERMANN’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter (Tyndale House Publishers), and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven, and her debut novelette, Helsinki Sunrise (White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series). Her second Passport to Romance novelette, Oslo Overtures, will be published in 2015.

Marion blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Beauty for Ashes. She belongs to Christian Writers of South Africa and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.

 

Connect with Marion Ueckermann:

Website / Amazon / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Blogs: A Pebble in my Pocket / Foreign Affaire

 

Permission to use images obtained.

Friday Weekend Escape to Savonlinna and the Opera Festival, Finland

By Marion Ueckermann

I hope you’ve been as excited to see the sights of the quaint town of Savonlinna, located in the south-eastern Lakeland district of Finland, as I’ve been to show them to you. Narelle, thank you for hosting me again.

Savonlinna Finland

With the amount of water surrounding Savonlinna, it was no surprise that one of the first things to greet us were the boats. Some moored, waiting for a sunny weekend; some seemingly abandoned; show boats taking tourists sightseeing; and yachts banked up on the green verges of the lake.

Savonlinna boats

It was the single wooden ‘viking-type’ rowboat that really caught our attention and had us fascinated by its beauty and perfection.

Savonlinna Viking type canoe

 As we strolled through the town, we came across a quaint area of cobbled streets and vintage-style shops with colorful window boxes.

Savonlinna streets

It was here that we began to spot the black-suited musicians pressing forward, instruments in hand, clearly on a mission as they made their way toward Olavinlinna Castle. They were performing in the evening’s opera. How fortunate we were to be in Savonlinna at the time of the Savonlinna Opera Festival, and that summer of 2012, they celebrated their centenary. One hundred years of opera within this medieval castle.

The month-long festival is held annually during July and attracts a total audience of around 60,000 opera goers—2,500 at every performance—from all over the world (about a quarter hailing from outside Finland). The castle’s Great Court is covered with a giant marquee, and a stage and stands are set up inside this courtyard.

We looked on amused as patrons dressed in fancy clothes, ice-cream cones in their hands, ambled down the same route as the musicians to attend this major society event. We soon learned that it didn’t matter whether it was summer or winter, whether out to play, entertaining guests, or on the way to the opera, for the Finns, there’s always time for ice-cream.

Savonlinna Castle Bridge

We followed their path which stopped at the 15th century three-tower castle. This northernmost medieval stone fortress was fascinating, but unfortunately, we could only view it from a distance. At the bridge, we could go no further. Only opera ticket holders could cross the watery divide to the castle—some of those tickets selling for a whopping 250 Euro (of course, those were the best seats in the house). In its short season, the festival offers seven operas on one of the most unique opera stages in the world with unsurpassed atmosphere and magnificent acoustics. The 2012 operas were: La Fenice, The Flying Dutchman, Aida, The Magic Flute, Peter Grimes, Den fjerde nattevakt (The Fourth Watch of the Night), and Free Will (created collaboratively by a worldwide web community).

Some great links for photos of the operas and behind the scenes shots:

http://www.pinterest.com/savonlinnaopera/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Savonlinna-Opera-Festival-Oopperajuhlat/100486158860

Olavinlinna Castle was built by a Dane, then conquered by Sweden and Russia. It helped to protect the border against neighboring Russia.

The next time we took a drive into Savonlinna from the summer cottage, we decided to take a tour of the castle. It was a rainy day, and there was nothing much else to do. It was a good decision.

Ovalinlinna Castle

The castle was fascinating. Access via the footbridge; spiral staircases leading to the citadel towers; the King’s Hall used for receptions and banquets, and the hagioscope—a small chamber located in the wall of the southern side of the chapel for persons who were not allowed in the chapel itself. Faint fragments of al secco wall paintings are still to be seen against the stark white walls of this tiny chapel in the heart of the castle.

Castle passageways

Oh the history that echoed through those ancient stone passageways and thick-walled chambers. I particularly loved the one story the tour guide told of when the castle was under Russian rule. The Swedish army came to attack the castle but their siege failed. Their plan to scale the high walls with ladders might’ve been successful had they not arrived at the foot of the castle by boat and discovered they’d forgotten to pack the ladders.

The best part of visiting the castle had to be the backstage tour. It was incredibly interesting. I found this YouTube video which gives a little glimpse into this. For a good laugh, track the sub-titles with the audio J https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxWucTA52NM

Next week I’ll introduce you to some fascinating wood, marble and bronze structures of this area—the largest wooden church in the world situated in Kerimäki; a tranquil Finnish cemetery; and creatively crafted bronze statues.

HelsinkiSunrise_w11668_300 (2)

He needed the island to himself. So did she.

Three weeks alone at a friend’s summer cottage on a Finnish lake to fast and pray. That was Adam Carter’s plan. But sometimes plans go awry.

On an impromptu trip to her family’s secluded summer cottage, the last thing Eveliina Mikkola expected to find was a missionary from the other side of the world—in her sauna.

Determined to stay, Eveliina will do whatever it takes—from shortcrust pastry to shorts—to send the man of God packing. This island’s too small for them both.

Adam Carter, however, is not about to leave.

Will he be able to resist her temptations?

Can she withstand his prayers?

 

Watch the Helsinki Sunrise book trailer on YouTube.

Watch the Passport to Romance book trailer on YouTube

Helsinki Sunrise is available to purchase from Pelican Book Group, Christianbook.com, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Marion Ueckermann1 - SMALLER

MARION UECKERMANN’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter (Tyndale House Publishers), and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven, and her debut novelette, Helsinki Sunrise (White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series). Her second Passport to Romance novelette, Oslo Overtures, will be published in 2015.

Marion blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Beauty for Ashes. She belongs to Christian Writers of South Africa and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.

 

Connect with Marion Ueckermann:

Website / Amazon / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Blogs: A Pebble in my Pocket / Foreign Affaire

 

Permission to use images obtained.

Friday Weekend Escape to South-Eastern Finland with Marion Ueckermann

SUMMER COTTAGE VACATION

by Marion Ueckermann

Narelle, it’s so good to be back on your blog again and I’m excited to whisk your readers away for the weekend (and on my subsequent two blogs) to the southern part of Finland, not that far from the Russian border.

My husband, Noel, and I were privileged to take kesämökki (vacation at summer home) after my son, Kyle’s wedding in Finland in 2012. While Kyle, and his bride, Tiia, were on honeymoon, we spent ten days with new friends at their summer cottage beside a lake. Joining us were eleven of the bride and groom’s friends from missionary training who had come from all over the world—South Africa, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, France, England, Canada and the USA—to Finland for the wedding.

Noel loves to go fishing and had a great time on the lake catching Pike. Once he knew that the smaller fish were a Finnish delicacy, he had an excuse for catching them. Mimi from France insisted on ‘olding the Pike (she couldn’t pronounce her H’s which we thought was really cute), while fellow South African, Christo, thought the little fish were really fun.

Summer cottage fishing

Being about a twenty or thirty kilometer drive to the nearest town, Savonlinna, the summer cottage felt like it was situated in the middle of nowhere. We came to discover Savonlinna to be a quaint and interesting town, having visited the hotel for internet, shops, the castle, church (run by a British pastor and his Finnish wife), and the hospital (yes, we got to try out Finnish medical care when one of the girls fell and badly sprained her ankle.)

We have so many fond memories:

  • the summer cottage the youth stayed in and where we had all our meals down by the lake
  • the sauna hidden in the trees that we all crammed into before running our heated bodies down the hill and into the cold lake
  • the deck where we fished, read books, had quiet times, and breakfasted together
  • and the cottage Noel and I stayed in, about a hundred meter walk through the forest or a five minute row on the lake to get to it (and on which I modelled the cottage in my novelette, Helsinki Sunrise).

Summer Cottage collage

The drive into Savonlinna was on long tree-lined roads (just like everywhere else in Finland).

Finnish Roads1

On one such road, we found this crazy bus stop. It tickled us no end, and Noel just had to try it out. I can imagine that some old man or lady who got tired of standing while waiting for the bus and so placed the chair there for their comfort.

Savonlinna bus stops

Another part of Finnish life and culture are the Kirpputori, or Kirpes for short. We’d know them as second-hand shops. We spent hours hopping from one to the next, finding the most amazing bargains. They carry mostly clothing, but also household knick-knacks, too. I bought myself a long woolen coat, made in England, for 5 Euro. I doubt it had been worn more than half a dozen times, if that, and I’d estimate it would be worth around 200 Euro. Don’t you just love it when you find a bargain? It certainly is going to be very useful when we go to Finland and Hungary in December.

Kirpes1

These were the midnight sunsets that bade us goodnight during our Finnish summer cottage vacation. I do miss them and hope I get to experience them again one day.

???????????????????????????????

On November 21st I’ll take your readers to explore the town of Savonlinna, the Ovanlinna castle and the annual Opera festival. It was all so fascinating.

HelsinkiSunrise_w11668_300 (2)

He needed the island to himself. So did she.

Three weeks alone at a friend’s summer cottage on a Finnish lake to fast and pray. That was Adam Carter’s plan. But sometimes plans go awry.

On an impromptu trip to her family’s secluded summer cottage, the last thing Eveliina Mikkola expected to find was a missionary from the other side of the world—in her sauna.

Determined to stay, Eveliina will do whatever it takes—from shortcrust pastry to shorts—to send the man of God packing. This island’s too small for them both.

Adam Carter, however, is not about to leave.

Will he be able to resist her temptations?

Can she withstand his prayers?

 

Helsinki Sunrise is available to purchase from Pelican Book Group, Christianbook.com, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble

Watch the Helsinki Sunrise book trailer on YouTube.

Watch the Passport to Romance book trailer on YouTube.

Marion Ueckermann1 - SMALLER

Marion Ueckermann’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter (Tyndale House Publishers), Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven, and her debut novelette, Helsinki Sunrise (White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series). Her second Passport to Romance, Oslo Overtures, will be published in 2015.

Marion blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Beauty for Ashes. She belongs to Christian Writers of South Africa and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.

Connect with Marion Ueckermann:

Website / Amazon / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Blogs: A Pebble in my Pocket / Foreign Affaire

Permission to use images obtained.

Book Recommendation: Helsinki Sunrise by Marion Ueckermann

HelsinkiSunrise_w11668_680 (2)

Back cover blurb:

Three weeks alone at a friend’s summer cottage on a Finnish lake to fast and pray. That was Adam Carter’s plan. But sometimes plans go awry.

On an impromptu trip to her family’s secluded summer cottage, the last thing Eveliina Mikkola expected to find was a missionary from the other side of the world—in her sauna.

Determined to stay, Eveliina will do whatever it takes—from shortcrust pastry to shorts—to send the man of God packing. This island’s too small for them both.

Adam Carter, however, is not about to leave.

Will he be able to resist her temptations? Can she withstand his prayers?

Narelle: I enjoyed reading Helsinki Sunrise. Eveliina is seeking solitude at her grandparent’s cottage. She wants to escape her demanding boss, who is pushing her to form a more personal relationship with him. Adam is Eveliina’s brother’s friend and he is devoted to his missionary calling. Sparks fly when Eveliina discovers Adam in her sauna. Eveliina has no time for God. She does her best to drive Adam away from the island despite her growing attraction to him. Adam is determined to resist the temptations placed before him by the beautiful Eveliina.

I loved the playful romance that developed between Eveliina and Adam in an authentic Finnish setting. We have a South African hero, a Finnish heroine and a gorgeous island setting full of fresh blueberries and mosquitoes. The faith element in the story is strong and we see Adam struggling with his feelings for Eveliina, knowing he can’t be unequally yoked. Events in the story challenge Eveliina to face her past and explore her faith. I recommend Helsinki Sunrise to those looking for a light hearted contemporary romance novella that explores faith issues.

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com

Friday Weekend Escape to Finland with Marion Ueckermann

I’m delighted to welcome back my friend, Marion Ueckermann, to my blog. Today we’re escaping for the weekend with Marion to Finland. Enjoy!

By Marion Ueckermann

Passport to Romance Blog Tour Logo

Helsinki Sunrise, a Passport to Romance, blog tour follows on from yesterday’s How to Keep Your Readers Turning the Pages blog with Zoe McCarthy in Southwestern Virginia, USA.

Today’s a double feature day, too. On this blog we’ll take a closer look at Finland, the location of Helsinki Sunrise, and at Inspirational Romance, you can take part in a special Finnish wedding.

Thank you, Narelle, for hosting me again on your travel blog. Once more it was so difficult to choose what to highlight from this country that has many interesting activities in their culture. I chose to focus on the features found in Helsinki Sunrise.

In the summer on 2012, my husband, Noel, and I spent nearly three weeks in Finland when we attended my son’s wedding. We arrived to a sunny, warm Helsinki, even though it was only 19 degrees celcius, and spent a few hours walking around the city. I didn’t know then how significant the two pictures below would be for me one day. At that time I had no plans to write a book set in Finland, or that my publisher would choose to feature the Dom von Helsinki (Helsinki Cathedral), Senatsplatz, on my debut novelette’s cover. That’s me on the right, Noel in the middle, and my Finnish daughter-in-law, Tiia, on the left.

1-Helsinki Cathedral

Another wonderful feature on the cover of Helsinki Sunrise—besides my son, Kyle, and his beautiful wife—is this photograph of a Finnish summer cottage on a lake taken by Kyle on his second visit to Finland. I love this photo because it shows so much of what’s really important and prominent in Finland: summer cottage, sauna, forest and lake.

2-Summer cottage book cover

This nation of 5.4 million people has almost half a million summer cottages where the Finns take kesämökki (summer cottage vacation). There are 187,888 lakes in Finland (bodies of water larger than 500 square meters). Summer cottages are found beside lakes and guaranteed to have a surrounding forest, and a sauna close to the cottage. There’ll also be an outside toilet. In the left photo below you will spot from left to right the outside toilet between the birch trees, a sauna (the middle structure with the chimney), and a summer cottage on the far right.

At the lake where we took kesämökki, the sun came out after some days of rain and the rainbow that spread across the water was a magnificent reminder of God’s love and promises.

3-Summer Cottages

A couple of different outside toilets we found along our travels.

4-Outside Toilets

Seventy-five percent of Finland is forest—mostly pine, spruce and birch. I loved the beautiful birch forests. Metsä is what the Finns call going to the forest. Here Kyle and I were taking his little niece, Amy, for metsä in a forest right beside his in-laws’ house.

5-Forests

It is said that your body starts to physically recover from stress just minutes after entering a forest. No wonder the Finnish people seem so calm and collected. There’s much of interest in the forest, especially for the palate. Berry-picking, mushrooming, hunting. We enjoyed picking blueberries and wild strawberries. Almost every day during our time at our friends’ summer cottage in the south-eastern part of Finland, we’d have some kind of blueberry dessert. The photos below show the wild strawberries we picked at the summer cottage, and the array of strawberries and blueberries for sale at a market in Helsinki (the same market that Adam and Eveliina visit in Helsinki Sunrise.

6-Berries

In December, Noel and I are going to visit Kyle and Tiia in Budapest where they currently live. We will spend a white Christmas and New Year in Finland. Kyle is determined that there’s more Finnish culture we need to experience—the avanto or hole in the ice where Finns go to cool off after socializing and relaxing in an 80 degree celcius sauna. I’m not so sure I’m up to that. It took a lot to get me to sauna and jump into the lake in summer…but winter?

There’s more I wanted to share with you about our time in the south-eastern part of Finland—the beautiful flowers that line the Finnish roads in summer; the largest wooden church in the world found in Kerimäki; the Olavinlinna Castle located in Savonlinna which forms a spectacular stage for the Savonlinna Opera Festival held annually in summer for over a hundred years; and the tranquil cemeteries of Finland. Perhaps Narelle would be kind enough to host me again on her travel blog sometime in the near future so that I can share these fascinating parts of Finland with you.

HelsinkiSunrise_w11668_680 (2)

He needed the island to himself. So did she.

Three weeks alone at a friend’s summer cottage on a Finnish lake to fast and pray. That was Adam Carter’s plan. But sometimes plans go awry.

On an impromptu trip to her family’s secluded summer cottage, the last thing Eveliina Mikkola expected to find was a missionary from the other side of the world—in her sauna.

Determined to stay, Eveliina will do whatever it takes—from shortcrust pastry to shorts—to send the man of God packing. This island’s too small for them both.

Adam Carter, however, is not about to leave.

Will he be able to resist her temptations?

Can she withstand his prayers?

 

Tomorrow we’ll stop and smell the Finnish flowers with Pamela Thibodeaux in Louisiana, USA.

Numerous eBooks of Helsinki Sunrise will be given away on the blog tour, so take a journey to each of the stops and leave a comment. Don’t forget to include your email address.

Helsinki Sunrise will be available to purchase from Pelican Book Group, Christianbook.com, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iTunes.

Watch the Helsinki Sunrise book trailer on YouTube.

Watch the Passport to Romance book trailer on YouTube.

 

Marion Ueckermann’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter (Tyndale House Publishers), and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven. Her debut novelette, Helsinki Sunrise, releases August 22, 2014 by White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series.

Marion blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Beauty for Ashes. She belongs to Christian Writers of South Africa and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.

Connect with Marion Ueckermann:

Website / Amazon / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Blogs: A Pebble in my Pocket / Foreign Affaire

 

Permission to use images obtained.

Finnish man drawing water from avanto courtesy of Kyle Ueckermann