Welcome to Helsinki
Our arrival couldn't have been smoother. Trudy and I flew Icelandic Air, landing at Vantaa Airport last Friday afternoon. Icelandic's planes have these wonderful seat backs that fold in to hold your head in place when you're sleeping, so we actually slept well on the overnight flight with none of that jerking awake each time your head falls to the side. After sleeping on the plane, the early morning connection through Reykjavik is very quiet and peaceful. Boardings aren't really announced. You just find your gate on the display and board when you get to the gate. No waiting, first come, first served, and a lot less congestion in the aisles. Once we landed and picked up our luggage, we took a door marked 'nothing to declare' which led directly out to the main airport lounge, quite the simple customs procedure. There, immediately to the right, was 'Otto', the ATM machine where we stocked up on euro's. While Trudy got her money, down the hall I spotted - guess what - a Starbucks, which turns out to have opened just a few weeks ago and is the first one in Finland. Of course, we headed straight for it, and while waiting for our lattes, saw the Finnair City Center bus we wanted waiting right outside. With lattes in hand, we hopped on the bus and arrived at the main rail station downtown. From there, it was a quick cab ride to the apartment to begin our Helsinki adventure without having to ask anyone for help or directions.
Since that auspicious start it's been a bit trickier to figure things out though. We did get the heavy brown wooden blinds lowered to block out the still bright sky when we went to bed, but were never able to find the switch to turn off some small overhead lights that shone on us all night. It was hard to give up without figuring it out but sleep was more important than the challenge. Finally an email to the apartment owner revealed the switch to be just out of sight behind the top of the refrigerator. Now though, we've mastered the metro and trams, been somewhat less successful at following the Arabia Art Tour, and had mixed results during our exploration of the Suomenlinna Fortress. We've felt good about our successes, and laughed and enjoyed the unexpected, but often just as good results that come from taking a wrong turn along the way. Here are some photos.