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Archive for the ‘Finland’ Category

In Helsinki

We arrived in Helsinki later than we expected and exhausted. I slept on the flights but not much and not well. The wife slept even less. My stomach was destroyed by the airport/airline food. Add to this jet lag and I think we did pretty well in Helsinki. It helped that so many people there speak English. But, we worked well as a team and took it all in stride. At the Helsinki airport we bought a one day pass for all the regional forms of transportation (ferries, buses, trains, trams) for 12 EUR each.

We didn’t get to see any of the tourist attractions in the afternoon. It was a big enough accomplishment to find a hostel and drop off our bags in a locker after some confusion with the city buses. Then we got on a “wrong” bus that took us West out of the city center. We made it back of course. And we were starving so we just settled for a touristy restaurant where we had a burger and a burrito. After this I got a massive headache. Then we wandered around one block trying to find the lobby of Sokos Hotel. When we finally found it there were no rooms.

So we went back to the hostel and settled for two beds in a dormitory room. By this time it was rather late, but still daylight. We negotiated the check-in and Internet in the hostel lobby. Then I drifted off to sleep while the wife took a shower. After about an hour I woke up and took a shower. I felt that it had been only 10 minutes. We pushed our beds close together and went to sleep. I slept for about an hour and then awoke when another dormer came in to go to bed. He promptly snored as loud as a chainsaw. I slept again and woke up thinking it may be time to get up. I’d only slept another hour. I drifted off again and then two more dormers arrived and went to sleep. We now had a veritable symphony of snoring. Believe it or not I had earplugs in and I’m generally not a light sleeper. Daylight, snoring as an Olympic event and the fact that my body thought it was only afternoon conspired against us. Finally, we both got up when the local time was 4AM.

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We put our heavy bags back in the locker and went for a stroll in the super long dawn hours. Eleven to twelve degrees centigrade during summer. We saw the Helsinki and Uspenski cathedrals and the Central Railway Station with no one around. We saw some nice sail boats docked. It was a nice morning so the snoring did us a favor.

The next step was to get to the airport for the flight to Istanbul on the 615 bus from the Central Railway Station. In the Helsinki airport the escalators would only work once someone stepped on. There are clean bathrooms, free wi-fi, wonderful hot chocolate. It is hard to imagine a less cumbersome version of customs and passport control. Even going through security the wife was the only person to take off her shoes – force of habit.

On the plane to Istanbul, we read up on exactly what we needed to do to get where we wanted to go.

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Fist stop: Finland for a day.

We finally got our first ticket: Turkey here we come!

Ok, so what is wrong with the title of this post? Well, we are in for a long flight and before we arrive in Istanbul, Turkey, we will make a quick stop at Helsinki for a summer afternoon and evening.

What to do and see there for a day? My first step was to read more about Finland, here is some of what I found:

Nokia is a Fin company, there is more there than ice and rock – such as the great wife-carrying contest (I may register for that 😉 , they like saunas and they have salmon. What else? Santa Claus is Fin, but I am not sure if he will be there for summer and they also host the world-famous Air Guitar Championship, he he.

So, I guess we will find something interesting for the day. My suggestion for the hubby is:

11:30 AM – Take a Bus 615 or City Bus to downtown.

1. Drop our backpack at our hotel.

2. Stop for lunch. Either at the Hotel Katajonokka, which up to 2002 used to be a prison, or at the Market Square while waiting for the ferry to the Suomenlinna Fortress.

3. Spend a couple of hours at the Fortress and among others, visit the Vesikko Submarine.

4. Once back in town, grab a free bike from the CityBikes and ride it to Lutheran Cathedral on Senate Square, the Temppeliaukion Church, and just for the heck to Kahvila Suomi restaurant where the Japanese movie Kamome was partially filmed.  My hubby likes oriental movies (we have not watched this one yet).

5. Then, relax and take it easy, this is not the Amazing Race. So, we will go with the flow. The day should be long, but at 9:00AM we need to be back at the airport.

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