Getting to Helsinki and day 1

Getting to Helsinki

We spent the day finishing up our packing, running errands, and travel planning (I realized we had no directions to any of our hotels and somehow our hotels have chosen not to give good directions on their websites). We thought about napping but were excited about the trip and nervous about leaving the dogs so we stayed up until 3:00 AM Monday morning. Then we packed the car, took the dogs for a walk, and drove to Canisvill.

Canisvill is the pet hotel near Incheon airport where our dogs are staying while we do our sightseeing. We spent about 1.5 hours settling the dogs into their suite and talking to the pet hotel owner. Of course leaving the dogs was hard for us but it was certainly harder on them – they were really crying as we walked away.

At the airport, checking in was no problem and we got emergency exit row seats, a nice bonus. A few hours later we were heading to Helsinki. Being fairly sleep deprived, I probably managed to sleep through half of the 9 hour flight, which wasn’t bad at all.

Helsinki day 1

I think we checked into the hotel around 4:00 or so. My wife unpacked but I’m happy living out of my suitcase so I did some Hindu pushups and some stretches to try to loosen up after 9 hours in economy.

Then we got on the tram to Central Station but got off early because we saw some fun looking stuff at Aleksanterinkatu. We ate dinner at Karl Fazer Cafe (Kluuvikatu 3 because I recommend it). The most interesting thing we ordered was a Finnish pastry with smoked salmon and rice called pieni kp lohi. The most interesting thing we didn’t order was apple meringue. We have to go back.

Then after a little shopping (my wife is cold in the Finnish summer) we got back on the tram to Central Station and bought our tickets to Turku. We asked about the overnight sleeper train from Turku to Rovaniemi but the woman said there was no direct train. Since I had one on their website I asked her if ti was just full. She said it just didn’t exist. Who knows? All I know is we still don’t have tickets to Rovaniemi and Rauma is looking better and better (it’s closer and they have a music festival going on while we’d be there).

Then we went to Cafe Carusel for some live jazz. But the calendar of events was off by a day so we settled for some ice cream near the cafe – chocolate almond is good but apple cinnamon ice cream may take some getting used to.

On the way to Cafe Carusel we walked by a few nice parks and at one of them we saw a bunch of hang gliders coming in for landings. No idea where they started from but I find it pretty interesting that they can safely land in the middle of a city park. One of the things we love about Helsinki is that it’s just not crowded. Helsinki is probably even less crowded than Luxembourg was when we were there. It’s more crowded than Assisi was in October but we’re talking about a real city vs. a small tourist town. I’m really amazed that a city can have so much public transportation, so many things to do, and a reasonable number of people. Compared to London, New York, Seoul, or Paris, the lack of crowding here is just wonderful.

I think it’s around 11:00 PM now since the sun is going down. We’re ready for a nice long sleep but first I’m going to eat my midnight snack a little bit early – I think it’s a chicken and rice crepe that I bought in a little grocery store.

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