Note: today and tomorrow’s posts were written by Björn. We were supposed to go to our favourite show in Örebro, but for a constellation of reasons, we had to stay home. Since I had planned to do cat show posts this weekend, I thought I would share Björn’s account of Jacoby’s Big Finland Adventure.
We left for Stockholm on Thursday, 29 September.
It was our first time travelling with a cat EU passport!
Jake made himself comfortable on the train – his first big trip since he moved to Sweden. The train ride took two hours.
Once in Stockholm, we caught the bus to the ferry port on the eastern outskirts of the city.
We checked in, and boarded the ferry.
Jake, of course, made friends as we waited to board.
While in the queue on the gangplank, we could see the cars waiting to board (it is a ferry, after all). Sweden is known for its fascination with vintage cars, and it’s always fun to see them. There may have been a car show in Helsinki that weekend.
There was a photographer at the gangway, snapping photos of Jake.
After finding our cabin and setting up the litterbox, we left Jake to enjoy the comforts of the cabin while we explored the ferry.
The Baltic Sea ferries vary in standard, but the best are like cruise ships, albeit on a smaller scale. There was a mall, several restaurants and bars, and the inevitable gaming areas. The photographer sold prints of the photos they took during boarding, and those with Jake were awesome.
We stuffed ourselves at the buffet, and feeling content, we went looking for amusements. Of course, Koshka found a slot machine game with an Abyssinian.
Later in the night, high winds made the ship roll, making us walk like we were more intoxicated than we actually were. Jake was happy to see us return…but the rolling ship didn’t seem to faze him at all.
The seas were calm next morning when we neared our destination, Helsinki, the capital of Finland. We left our cabin, Jake riding in his stroller, and went looking for a cab to take us from the port to the city center.
As it was Koshka’s first time in Helsinki (and my first time in 15 years), we stored our luggage at the railway station, and did some sight-seeing and shopping. In every shop (more than half a dozen), we made sure that it was OK to bring Jake.
Not one turned us down; on the contrary, the staff in every shop were charmed by our furry companion, almost forgetting the other customers.
After a late lunch at a Finnish restaurant, we went to the rental car pickup place.
As the driver, I quickly realized that getting out of an unfamiliar city at rush hour on a Friday was a challenge. I sent grateful thoughts to the inventor of the GPS navigator, as it made finding our way a thousand times easier. Jake began meowing straightaway, and kept up the song of his people for the 45 kilometers (28 miles) to Siuntio, a small town west of Helsinki which was the location of the show. We found the hotel, the Rantasipi Siuntion Kylpylä, and checked in.
The sprawling hotel was pretty labyrinthine, but we found our room and installed ourselves. We had dinner in the hotel restaurant, and by the looks of the other guests, most of them were there for the cat show.
Saturday, 1 October: Jake’s debut as a show cat in Europe. The vet check was pretty early, but we were there in time (again, thanks to the GPS).
We found the show cage and set it up with curtains, bowls and litterbox.
We were benched right next to Jake’s good friend Sketsi.
As it was the 50th anniversary of the first litter of Abyssinians born in Finland, the Aby people had the goal of showing 50 Abys and Somalis, a goal that was surpassed.
Our friend Anne Kontula was especially invaluable, helping us find our way in the strange world that is a FIFe show. Anne also shows in CFA, and she was just so great at helping Koshka navigating between the two systems. She and her friends and family treated us to snacks, and made us feel very welcome.
Koshka said that she had no idea what she was doing, apart from going where her friends told her. That said, our first judge, Martti Peltonen, was very impressed with Jake, and said almost immediately that Jake looked like an Instincts cat! Nailed it!
There were three ruddy neutered males, so Martti got to name a Best in Variety (BIV). Jake ended up being chosen!
Martti also Nominated Jake for the final! Of course, we didn’t know what, exactly, a NOM was…but we knew it was good.
Jake was awarded a rosette and a little charm on a purple ribbon as his award.
Then it was time for the panel. Jake was up against some stiff competition. It was nice to have someone else handle the cats to display them rather than the owners, as it gave us a chance to just watch the proceedings.
All the Category 4 judges examined each Nominee, including the judge who nominated the cat. Then they vote for their Best In Show. Jake only got one vote (from Martti), so we didn’t win BIS, but we were pretty happy with our first go.
When the first day was over, we returned to the hotel. After dinner, there wasn’t much in the way of distractions. A bar, a slot machine…
and the TV in the room…But we knew we had to get up early for the show’s second day, so we went to sleep fairly early.