Scandinavian Sojourn Begins
It's 11:00 pm here in Helsinki and it's only been in the last hour that it's started to get dark. It's been a long trip to get here, but we are finally in Finland at last.
Our trip started in Boston where we were able to bypass all the airport crowds in the Delta Sky Club. Not being members, it would have cost the two of us $100, a price we would never pay, but based on a tip from the internet we bought two day passes on eBay for $20. With complimentary refreshments, free wifi, and panoramic views, it was a great way to start a vacation.
After a quick transfer connection in Amsterdam, we arrived in Helsinki in the early afternoon. While on our KLM flight I read an interesting article. A researcher found that people often rave about their vacation more when they get home than when they are actually experiencing it because they are too distracted to take in the moment. To avoid this, holidaymakers should talk about three highlights they discovered every day and by doing so they will notice more around them and will be living their life in a holiday frame of mind.
Keeping this advice in mind, we visited several highlights today just in the short time we have been here. After taking a tram ride from our hotel, Hotel Linna, to the city center we strolled along the esplanade lined with trees, gardens, and a pedestrian shopping area. At Teatteri Wine and Deli we enjoyed a delicious fresh salad with chicken and shrimp.
Feeling energized we headed to Stockmann's which is Helsinki's biggest and oldest department store. I love visiting department stores in other places and lingered longingly in the home goods section which had colorful items in a clean Finnish design. They also have an interesting array of Finnish souvenirs and and an area dedicated to the children's books and television characters, the Moomins, who have been popular here for decades.
In Senate Square we couldn't resist an evening visit to the gleaming white Lutheran church where people sat on the steep stone steps in front of it admiring the view. Inside we were immediately struck by the contrast between the simple clean design of the inside compared to some the ornate cathedrals we have seen in Italy covered with gold, mosaics, and brightly colored stained glass. I spotted a beautiful organ and hope to hear a concert tomorrow.
To top off the evening we stopped at Cafe Kappeli on the esplanade for a cappuccino and a slice of apple crumb cake smothered in vanilla cream. In the 19th century this was a popular place for Russian aristocrats and military officers. The interior features wooden bookcases, chandeliers, and cute tiny tables. I loved the retro atmosphere and we squeezed into a tiny glass covered alcove which was probably once prime seating.
Back at our hotel we chose these places as the highlights of our day. One thing the researchers did not discuss, though, is what to do when something goes wrong. Did I happen to mention the airline left our luggage in Amsterdam and it took them 8 hours to get it here to our hotel? No, because after all these highlights in such a short time, it's now a distant memory. I think we're experiencing life in the holiday frame of mind already with more good things to come!