After 3 very long flights, I made it and I’m happy to say that Helsinki looks like it will be a great place to spend the next week. Us scientists get to travel quite a bit for the various international and national meetings and symposia but I’m not aware of any that are regularly held in Helsinki so it is likely that many of you readers have never been here (I certainly have not). I’m horrendously jetlagged but I did take a few hours this afternoon to walk around downtown and the bay area of the city center. I’m on a mission to stay awake at least until 9PM so I’m just gonna start writing…
A few first impressions:
1) The Frankfurt airport is awesome! I know this has nothing to do with Helsinki but I connected in Frankfurt from DFW (on the single most crowded flight I have ever seen — lots of big people looking to get bigger at OctoberFest I suppose). There are large swaths still under construction but you can tell where they are going with it and it will really be something when its done. Love the bed chairs that can be found all over the halls of the international terminals. Remind me why we don’t have those at JFK, O’hare and DFW.
2) The ocean breeze here in Helsinki is BRISK. Sure am glad I decided to bring the technical jacket.
3) Fall foliage is one thing I really miss about the North East. The trees are all an amazing array of colors here right now. Its really quite lovely.
4) Helsinki looks more Russian to me than I ever would have imagined. Now, I know there are many good historical reasons for this, however, I just didn’t expect it. Which raises another possibility. I’ve never been to Russia. I guess it is possible that many of the old Russian scenes in the movies that told me what Russia (outside of the Kremlin) looked like were actually made in Finland. Maybe its that Russia looks like Finland, at least in my imagination.
5) Everyone here has a cool haircut and they should because I have never seen so many stylist parlors in my entire life. More than one per block, at least where I am staying.
6) There are a ton of cool little antique and art boutiques around downtown. They were all closed because its Sunday; however, I’m looking forward to my day off (fri) to do some putzing around in the local stores. There are lots of local jewelry makers in this area too, looks like Mrs JP will be getting some cool new jewelry.
7) I’ve never seen so many Volvos in one place in my life. Even the cabs!
8) The roads downtown are all brick and they all have bike lanes. There are a ton of people going around on their bikes but you might imagine that there is not a serious road race bike to be found with all these bricks. Lots of beach cruiser looking bikes can be seen but it looks like the low-rider theme hasn’t caught on here yet.
9) The hotel has free wifi!!! Por Fin!!
10) The hotel has a sauna!!!
11) Some of the bars have saunas!!!
12) Checking my schedule for the week I realized that one of the nights I am supposed to go to a sauna and vodka bar with some grad students. Isn’t that supposed to be dangerous?
Alright, I’m running out of steam but I actually have wifi this time so maybe we’ll do some live blogging of the goings on of the symposia. Should be fun. I just hope the rain stays away for the week.