After having taken in some of the beautiful landscapes on the way to Savonlinna, it’s time to start writing again. Here’s a summary of what went down the day of the wedding… A rousing tale of rock churches, party trams, bingo cards, candy bars and speeches on David Hasselhoff.
Timo & Tuomo
Last saturday (= the day of the wedding), started with me having a relaxing breakfast, which also gave me some time to write the previous posts.
Saturday afternoon we made our way to Helsinki’s famous Temppeliaukio church, better known as the rock church… And with “rock” I mean as in “cut from stone”… not as in rock-music. Come to think about it, a rock-music church would have been equally cool!
Way back in the sixties, Finnish architects Timo and Tuomo created something unique with their Temppeliaukio. Not an easy undertaking: they had to use explosives to create the space they were aiming for. The rock walls were left untouched, giving it a raw, natural look and feel. Despite it being inside a rock, the church still has a warm, inviting and intimate atmosphere. If you ever visit Helsinki, be sure to check it out!
Pascal & Martta
Many Helsinki visitors may go and see the church, but not many tourists are lucky enough to witness a Finnish wedding! Well, that day at least fifteen Belgians were able to do so!
The ceremony was short but heartfelt: passages from the bible were read, there was some singing in Suomi (not by me, thank you God).
I felt nothing but joy seeing these two beautiful souls getting married. Now is the appropriate time for a confession: I tend to tear up at most weddings. This time I successfully managed to hold my emotions in check, although I’m not ashamed to admit that it is touching to see a person who is dear to me to have found his way in life.
Pascal, Scalle, Paxie…
I have known Pascal from way back in high school and, by chance, more than a decade later we ended up working in the same team. As we had a lot of friends in common, we both loved gaming AND we both were huge movie-fanatics (albeit in a slightly different genre) we started to see each other more. During our famous movie marathon nights, four or five friends would come together and bring some of their favorite movies. Usually those made for unforgettable movie experiences. Some in a good way, others not quite.
I remember Pascal bringing “Sauna”, a finnish horror flick by director Antti-Jussi Annila. Another time he treated us to “Dead Snow”, a comedy about nazi zombies, in the snow. And during yet another marathon he forced us to watch “Iron Sky”, a crowdfunded and partly Finnish production, about nazis invading earth from their secret moon base.
Don’t get me wrong, Pascal has no affiliation whatsoever with nazis, he just found these movie concepts hilarious… And so did we all, they made us crack up into tears. So silly!
My point is, he was into everything Finnish. He even dragged me to my first concert in Ancienne Belgique, about seven or eight years ago, to see a Finnish cello group called Apocalyptica. I have to admit, they were amazing. Look them up, if only for their excellent takes on famous Metallica classics!
In short, Pascal could go on about Finland for hours and hours. He had clearly fallen hopelessly in love: with a country.
Pascal had told me once that during the years prior to us working together he had went through a rough patch in his life. I’m not going into the details, he wouldn’t like that… But in short, I think no one would disagree with me saying he was lacking a clear direction or purpose.
Having been part of his life during the years when he got his act together makes me very happy. Over the course of several years, I witnessed him slowly but surely build up the courage to embark for his new life. Somehow, I hope our silly movie nights with endless laughter may have played a tiny part in him finding his courage. Whatever the case, when he broke the news that he was leaving us and permanently move to Finland, I knew he was not joking.
Pascal wasn’t the kind of guy who made these decisions lightly, to tell you the truth, he was more the kind of guy that NEVER made these decisions at all!
It’s impossible not to miss Pascal. He left a gaping hole in our midst. If you haven’t met him in person you don’t know the meaning of the words: kindness, laid-back and good company.
King of the North
Long story short: Pascal quit his job, left everything behind and step by step built his new life in faraway Finland. In this magical kingdom filled with dark woodsn unspeakable dangers and vicious trolls he did not only build himself a successfull career, he also found his princess! Martta!
Whenever I see photos on Facebook of their new life, I think they’re a perfect match.
Pascal also turned out an excellent dad to Martta’s little boy Daniel. He clearly found a new purpose in life and is all the happier for it. And you can tell! He looks like a true King of the North…
Well to tell you the truth, his resemblance is much closer to that of the Hound than the King of the North, but you get the idea. (Picture below taken by Mathias during Pascal’s bachelor party)
That’s the reason why I made the effort to go all the way to the dark, dangerous, troll-infested Finland: I see this as the final closure of that chapter we shared: full of silly movies and underpaid work. He made it, and I just had to be there in person to see him off.
As all this went through my head, I was suddenly pulled back to reality. We were still at the church and I was unsure of what I just heard… Had the Finnish minister just switched to Dutch? Fluent Dutch? Just for us fifteen visitors? He had! I couldn’t have been more shocked if he had started moonwalking all over the stage! Very much appreciated. Hospitable Finland once again 🙂
Rob and me agreed to leave our cameras at home so we could fully enjoy the ceremony. Mathias on the other hand tried to convince us (and himself) that he would take his gear, but only to take ten photos, tops. We all knew it wasn’t going to work out like that. So besides the photographer Pascal and Martta hired… There was Mathias, swooping in on them, trying to snap some beautiful shots. He just couldn’t contain himself… I’m looking forward to seeing the results though! Mathias’ work is excellent on these occasions!
During the ceremony, you could occasionally hear the sound of a lightsaber being turned on… Coming from just beside me! Apparently the sound was produced by Barteline’s tiny camera. I’m still a bit puzzled as to how such a small device can make that much noise and – even more mysterious – why any manufacturer would think it’s a good idea to make their product sound like a lightsaber every time you turn it on? Is to make sure everyone looks at you for the shot? It certainly beats shouting… 🙂
I hope Barteline got the snapshots she hoped.
The Party Tram
Pascal and Martta had arranged for a party tram to pick us up after the ceremony. It took us through downtown Helsinki, mixing a guided tour with canned Gin/soda drinks and short “social breaks”… Which were kind of awkward: “Social break! Now mingle! You have three minutes! Gogogo!”
Before long we were singing Mä Haluun Viihdyttää by Kikka again, or how we referred to it: the funny 80s pop song from the club the day before. It kind of became the anthem of our trip… And that was definately not the last time we heard it! It might have had something to do with the soda-like gin drinks…
After the tram dropped us off, we had to take a short hike over to the banquet. And it was COLD! All men wore costumes but I cursed Tim for being the only one courageous enough for sporting his white thermal undies below his trousers! Curse you and your courage Tim!
Bingo, candybars and mojito!
The party was great, the food was awesome and so was the company. We talked, laughed, danced and filled out our bingo card (“someone spilling their food” – check). Pascal and Martta had a live band plaing all of the classics (Beatles, Creedence Clearwater, Bon Jovi…)
The band also took very good care of the opening song “All of me” by legendary John, uhm, Legend.
There was a candy bar, mojito and speeches (in Suomi and English)… Volunteering translators had quite the challenge converting the traditional Finnish texts to modern English words. Which the Finns of course found very amusing.
Needless to say, the self-service candy bar was a huge success:
The Hoff was attending FACTS in Ghent (a sort of Belgian ComicCon) that very day. This sarcastic sense of humour was a bit wasted on the Finns, but at least our Belgian table did fully appreciate it. And so did Pascal.
Hasseling the Hoff
By the end, after the band had left, the Belgians managed to hijack Pascal’s Spotify playlist… Before long we were dancing to the inappropriate tunes of David Hasselhoff, Flemish popsongs from the eighties, the Pokémon theme and we all went nuts at the tunes of Kikka’s Mä Haluun Viihdyttää. Again…
At the same time Mathias was pondering the message he would put on the guestbook/log, which will become part of Pascal and Martta’s furniture. Does anyone remember how Mathias message went?
Time to go
At that point we knew it was time to go to our hotels… Only, we didn’t…
After the taxi dropped us off, we all went to the bar around the corner for one last drink. It didn’t matter how tired everyone was… It was one of those days where no one wants to say goodbye just yet. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about: the kind of evening that is unforgettable and almost feels magical… where time is an unwelcome guest. And a party pooper.