Finland: Helsinki and getting home

We flew from Oulu to Helsinki to spend a few days. We have previously crashed with E.’s sister Lissu while in Helsinki, but we always felt bad about crowding in there with our luggage and taking over her sofa, so this time we decided to stay at a hotel and not get in her hair. We found a good offer at Hotel Torni, a hotel in the center of Helsinki, only a few blocks from the central train station, which is the hub of public transportation in the city.

Helsinki by night

A view of Helsinki from the top floor of our hotel

The hotel was built in the early twentieth century in art nouveau style and has lots of beautiful period details. When we checked in they offered us a choice of a modern-style room or a restored art nouveau room; we gladly chose the art nouveau room and were charmed with its decoration.

Wall painting

The painted wall of our hotel room, with a happy little squirrel and butterfly

Cieling woodwork

Deocrative woodwork on the cieling of our room

We spent much of our days in Helsinki shopping. Lots of stores had big sales, including Stockmann, the main upscale department store, and Hemtex, a home goods (mostly textiles) store. You’d think that in this age of globalization you’d find pretty much the same things in stores in Helsinki as you would in New York or Boston, but there was a very noticeable difference, and not just the presence of iconically Finnish things like Moomins and Marimekko patterns, but even the color palette. E. is very particular about her color choices and we’ve had a very difficult time finding just the shade of blue that she likes in stores in the States: a moderate grayish blue. But looking around in Helsinki we found a variety of nice home textiles in good colors. I, as always, had to go shopping for licorice and was able to find a good price after looking in a few different stores.


We also paid a visit to the National Museum to enjoy the cultural history collections

We spent many of our evenings with Lissu, which was wonderful. We met up with her for dinner after her work day and thoroughly enjoyed her company.

With Lissu

Enjoying time with Lissu

We also met up with two couples, old friends of E., both of whom now have young children. This trip turned out, rather unexpectedly, to be full of small children. We ended up feeling rushed and wishing that we had a few more days to spend in Helsinki, so in future years we may make more time to spend there.

We flew home again by way of New York. We had a rather tight connection to make in New York, but we managed it. Flying into New York we could see lots of brown, dead grass and when we landed the air was unbearably hot. In Boston it was just the same– hot, parching air and dry, brown grass everywhere. When we got home we found that half our lawn was brown, but at least that meant that it wasn’t overgrown and in desperate need of mowing. We were able to wait a couple of days before mowing until we got a cool, dry morning to do it in.

Every time we travel to Finland it seems to get a little easier and smoother. Even having to travel through New York, this trip was no exception. Everything is familiar now and much of the process of travel is routine. It is a comfortable pattern to be able to slip back into and it hardly felt like a year since we last made the trip.


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2 Responses to “Finland: Helsinki and getting home”

  1. KHJ Says:

    That hotel room looks neat!

  2. Mom Says:

    Thanks for the travelogue. Looks like a lovely trip. Mom

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