Greetings from Helsinki

Hello all! I’m in my rented apartment now after a whirlwind day of travel and sightseeting in Helsinki, Finland. I had totally expected to use dial up to get access, but low-and-behold, there’s an unsecure wireless connection in this place. I’m uploading pictures from the day to here. To give a quick rundown of the day before I pass out, we started at 7:45 AM in SFO, got to JFK, chilled for a little bit, then were on a Finnar flight to Helsinki, toured Helsinki (much walking, many cafes), had dinner and done for the day.

Alright, I’ll write some more. Landing in Helsinki with painless, the airport is georgous and looks brand new. The view from the plane seemed largly rural, with trees and small cabins for many miles past the outskirts of Vantaa (city where the airport is). We took a cab from the airport to my co-workers (Megan’s) apartment where we set up for the morning and then head out to do some sightseeing. Helsinki is a beautfiul town. To me, it feels like a small version of Brussels: a European capital town, but not a bustling metropolis. It seems that the city is largly shut down on a Sunday, so we got to see a lot of stuff sans tourists. We didn’t have that much time to sightsee in detail since we were time pressured on our own (Megan and me) since we had to meet with the vendor (Minna) who’s doing the field study for us here. We saw the open air market (which is next to the ferry lines), the Orthodox Greek cathedral, another cathederal, the “Esplanade” (which is one of the main walkways/outdoor areas).

By about that time (~12:30PM) we rushed back to the apartment to meet our vendor, who turned out to be this awesome young woman who’s quite chill and is quad-lingual (English, French, Finnish, and Sweedish!) and knew a bunch of about the Finnish culture to get us up to speed. We checked out a couple of cafes (sampling some cinnimon buns), walked to this large flea market, saw a bunch of people sailing at some random water front (since Helsinki is build around a cluster of islands, there’s quite a large amount of shoreline), walked in to the Museum of Modern Art and generally walked through the central city to some detail. We went back to Minna’s apartment and did a write up of our observations of the day (I should call out that you can acutally buy a tram ticket by texting from your mobile — how cool is that?). After that, and feeling incredibly exhausted, we split ways to get ready for dinner. We ended up eating at this place called Elite in the outskirts of town, which offered a great fusion egg-roll made of zuccinni, potatoes and mozzarella cheese. Megan and Minna both had traditional Finnish dishes (all meaty). Tomorrow we head out to our first site visit to a student at the University of Helsinki. I’ll let you all know how that goes, but for now, it’s 23:30 CET and I’m exhausted and must pass out.