The train from Helsinki will deposit us at the station in Kokkola (Karleby in Swedish) where my cousin Guy will pick us up.
Lonely Planet guidebook to Finland says that Kokkola’s biggest draw is its charming Old Town (Neristan or Lower Town) where the fisherman used to live. They discuss the historic houses of note that can be found here, however, Kokkola seems to barely exist on the internet. (Although I do learn through Wikipedia that there are a lot of chemical plants there. . . )
Ah, but if one is willing to leave behind the English language, there is information, including a lovely website just on Kokkola.
It includes a page on Neristan that explains:
Neristan i Karleby är en av vårt lands enhetligaste och största bevarade trästadsdelar. Under seklen har Neristan formats av såväl landhöjning och bränder som stadens utveckling och den byggande människans outtröttlighet.
A translation program (that is in Swedish, in case it wasn’t obvious) tells me that: Neristan in Kokkola is one of our country’s single largest and most conserved trästadsdelar. Over the centuries has been shaped by Neristan both uplift and fire the city’s development and the construction of man indefatigability.
(And note the translation program didn’t even tackle “trästadsdelar”, which I think is a plural compound word for some sort of city. . . ah, ha! It is some sort of “wood” city. I think that means it has a very large number of old wood buildings.)
Maybe the next paragraph will tell me more:
Vid övergången till 2000-talet har Neristan etablerat sin ställning som en levande stadsdel med traditioner och som ett betydande kulturhistoriskt område. Neristans trumfkort är den gamla stadens anda, fridfullheten och den oförfalskade atmosfären från hundratals år.
When released into the 2000s, Neristan established his status as a living community with traditions and as a significant cultural history. Neristan trump card is the old city’s spirit, peacefulness and the genuine atmosphere of hundreds of years.
At least that makes it sound good – who wouldn’t want to visit a place that claims it’s spirit, peacefulness, and genuine atmosphere of hundreds of years as its trump card. (That sounds like the Queen of hearts to me.)
And the picture looks inviting.
I’m regretting my laziness, although my father and I have confirmed that we can indeed play cribbage with the Swedish relatives – For whatever reason, we both know all our numbers.
Just don’t ask me to recite the alphabet – or speak at all.