Aby-a-Day: 9 Februari 2020: Instead of Örebro, a tale of Finland (Cat Show Sunday) (Part 2)

Sunday greeted us with a chilly, frosty morning. We checked out from the hotel, went to the show hall, and got ready for the second day.

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Our judge for the day was Marina Vinkel from Estonia. She was very thorough in examining Jacoby on her table.

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Koshka and Jake waited for the Nomination…but alas, it was not to be. However, that ultimately worked to our advantage.

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Not having to be on alert for the panels gave us a chance to explore the show hall and the merchants. Koshka was especially excited to see Arja’s Art, the woman who makes the harnesses the cats wear.

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Koshka raves about these harnesses, and was thrilled to discover that Arja also makes passport covers for the EU Pet Passports.

Because we weren’t Nommed, we were able to get permission to leave the show a couple of hours before it ended, as we had to get back to Helsinki, return the car, and make our way to the port to catch our ferry. It was lucky that they let us leave when they did, as it took a bit more time than expected before we were ready to go to the ferry.

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Jake was such a seasoned traveller, he lead the way to our cabin. After setting up our quarters, which was a mirror-image of the cabin we had on the way to Finland, we pretty much repeated what we did on our first trip, with a couple of exceptions.

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This time, we took Jake to the aft sun deck for some pictures and a final look as we departed Helsinki.

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We also took some porthole portraits with Jake in one of the elevator lobbies.

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After our ship exploration, we settled Jake in the cabin with a snack while we hit the buffet for dinner and then visited the duty-free shop, where we bought liquor, cosmetics and candy well below mainland prices. The seas were calmer on the way back.

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We arrived to Stockholm on Monday morning. A bus took us back to the railway station, where we caught the train for Skövde.

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Finally, 6 o’clock in the evening, we were back home. Jake’s first trip abroad as a show cat was over.

Aby-a-Day: 8 Februari 2020: Instead of Örebro, a tale of Finland (Cat Show Saturday) (Part 1)

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.

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We left for Stockholm on Thursday, 29 September.

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It was our first time travelling with a cat EU passport!

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Jake made himself comfortable on the train – his first big trip since he moved to Sweden. The train ride took two hours.

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Once in Stockholm, we caught the bus to the ferry port on the eastern outskirts of the city.

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We checked in, and boarded the ferry.

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Jake, of course, made friends as we waited to board.

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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.

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After finding our cabin and setting up the litterbox, we left Jake to enjoy the comforts of the cabin while we explored the ferry.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Not one turned us down; on the contrary, the staff in every shop were charmed by our furry companion, almost forgetting the other customers.

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After a late lunch at a Finnish restaurant, we went to the rental car pickup place.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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We found the show cage and set it up with curtains, bowls and litterbox.

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We were benched right next to Jake’s good friend Sketsi.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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There were three ruddy neutered males, so Martti got to name a Best in Variety (BIV). Jake ended up being chosen!

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Martti also Nominated Jake for the final! Of course, we didn’t know what, exactly, a NOM was…but we knew it was good.

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Jake was awarded a rosette and a little charm on a purple ribbon as his award.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

Aby-a-Day – 3 Januari 2020: Using the tools you have to get the results you want (Photoshop Friday)

The ferry boarding photos I posted yesterday were not, exactly, the photos I originally purchased on the boat. We did get a photo of Izaak and Lorelai, but it was the close-up above. I had wanted one of them together in a photo with one of the special frames (I really like those because they have the date and the ship we were on). The photographer told me she couldn’t get that photo to fit the frame, and she had only gotten one shot of just the cats.

I asked if I could have the digital photos with my purchase, and she emailed them to me. I assured her that I could fix it.

Then too, that nice photo of Björn and me boarding together with the cats? Yeah, that also wasn’t exactly the perfect shot. They got one of me…with a cheesy Minnie Mouse suitcase behind me. And they got a decent one of Björn, dragging our crippled suitcase onto the boat (this was the trip that it finally became an ex-suitcase and ceased to be).

So, as you saw yesterday, I fixed that, too.

Aby-a-Day – 2 Januari 2020: Ferry cross the Baltic (Travel Thursday)

As I mentioned in my Christmas post, we went to Turku, Finland, in November so that Izaak and Lorelai could earn their International Champion titles. As we did when we’ve gone to shows in Helsinki and Tallinn, we travelled by ferry. And what’s the best thing about ferry travel? The boarding photos!

Okay, so…Rory and Zak are far more photogenic than we are, but to be fair…we have to schlep all the luggage whilst they chill in the stroller!

Aby-a-Day – 17 Augusti: Dash on the Silja Line

At long last we boarded the Silja Symphony ferry to Stockholm. First we rode the elevator to our cabin to put our luggage away and set up Dashiell’s food and litter.

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Dash really seemed to enjoy the windowed lift.

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This is kind of a dark photo, but you can see the shopping promenade and the cabins with overlooking windows. We stayed in one of those cabins on the way to Helsinki and it was kind of fun do have that view. They don’t have pet rooms in that block of cabins, though.

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After we got our room set up, we went up to the deck to say goodbye to Helsinki.

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This is what the ferry looks like from Helsinki. We happened to be at the waterfront the day before when the ferry was leaving for Sweden.

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Here is me with Dash.

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I posed almost the exact same way with Jacoby in 2016.

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Björn posed with Dash as well.

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On the aft deck, there is a little sandbox for dog owners to let their dogs go to the toilet.

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I have to say, it was pretty amusingly decorated. I have seen dog toilet areas on other ferries, but none decorated like this.

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Dash was not impressed.

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He was more interesting in people-watching from the vantage of a deck chair.

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Just then, a dog passed by on his way to the toilet. I guess we took a look at it in the nick of time.

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Despite what it says on the website, the crew staff assured us that cats were allowed anywhere onboard the ship. We thought a nice refreshing beer would be nice before taking Dash back to the cabin and checking the duty-free store.

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Dash was happy to sit in his carrier and watch Björn pour his beer.

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Dash never even tried to get out of his carrier.

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After our drinks, we took the elevator back to our cabin.

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I think Dash was happy to go back to the cabin and take a nap after all the excitement of the cat show and boarding the ferry.

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Ferry rides are a lot of fun. They go overnight, and some people treat it as a party. On this trip, there was what looked like a stag do going on. Not sure which guy was the groom, but my money’s on the guy in the bell bottoms.

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We had seen them in the bar earlier. They were going around to people in the bar with a straw, asking if they could have a sip of their drink, taking photos of it. It was pretty funny.

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There was also a new machine in the ferry’s casino – Diamond Cats! It’s a bit like Kitty Glitter except with no Somali. It was not a bad game; at least the Siamese have blue eyes on this game. But it was fun to play and I ended up winning a little, which is always nice.

Aby-a-Day – 16 Augusti: Waiting to board the ferry

After the long drive from Lempäälä to Helsinki, Björn dropped Dashiell and I off at Olympia Terminal where we waited whilst he returned our rental car.

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This was Dash’s first time with a leash and harness, and he did really well.

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But mostly Dash wanted to be in his carrier. Despite having been in that thing for 30 some hours on the trip to Finland from Newark, it represents safety and security to him. Which makes sense; it’s just like Jacoby’s attachment to his stroller.

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He was happiest when the top was open, so he could look around.

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In some of these photos, he reminds me so much of Jake. Especially the one where he’s meowing!

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Björn was taking longer than expected to return from dropping off the car. I was starting to get worried that the gates would close before he got back.

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I don’t know what would have happened if we missed the ferry.

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Dash was a wonderfully patient little cat, which bodes well for future trips.

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He also charmed the employees at the terminal. They took turns coming over to where we were to meet him.

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They also were very reassuring and told me that the gates wouldn’t close until Björn came back. Whew!

Aby-a-Day – 14 Augusti: Wordless Wednesday (Dashiell’s Ferry Photos…and one of Jacoby)

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