Welcome to Helsinki

I made it! Just. There was, I admit honestly, a point halfway through the long long journey when I considered turning around and coming home. There’s no getting around the fact Australia to Europe is a hard slog. Following a seemingly endless night across the world is unutterably depressing. I need my sunshine.
But here I am. πŸ™‚ The arrivals section of the airport was dark, quiet and almost completely empty. My footsteps literally echoed. Most people from my plane were transferring on, and disappeared. On my way to collect my bag, I passed an empty room full of roll top ‘people pods’. And one room with a grass floor. You can tell a lot about a country from their airport bathrooms. I entered the bathroom to see the starkest, brightest, whitest, most futuristic bathroom ever, coupled with loudly chirruping bird noises coming from the ceiling. I thought maybe I was hallucinating from exhaustion. But no. I looked it up later, it’s intended to be soothing.
I got a few groceries and headed for my apartment. It was 8am Helsinki time, 4 degrees, dark and raining. I needed a coat. I seriously needed a coat! Woohoo!!!! :))) 
Here’s the view from the apartment. That’s the spire of the National Museum.

  

After a twelve hour sleep, I decided it was a good investment on my first day to get a local guide to show me around the city on foot, how to catch public transport etc. She was awesome, a six foot three stunning Russian, 28, doing a Phd in linguistics, fluent in four languages. Way to make a person feel like an underachiever or what. (Although she said my Finnish accent was excellent and I nearly burst with pride :)) We had a great morning, she showed me everything I wanted to see, hopping on and off trams and buses around the city and telling a good bit of history too. This place is incredibly beautiful, and the people are lovely. Is it weird that it feels like home? Genetic memory? Here’s some pics of a few things we saw along the way. (Sorry, I kept them fairly low res for ease of uploading)

Senate Square and cathedral, which we went in to. The black things on the steps were gorillas.
  
Yep. And no, I have no idea.

  
Part of Helsinki University, the Faculty of Arts.

   
 One of the oldest cobblestone streets.

  
Helsinki City Museum. This is what they used to use to melt snow on the streets, I love it.

  
I left my mark on the blackboard too.

  
Uspenski Cathedral on the hill and the waterfront with Kauppatori market square and hall.

   
   
Old Market Hall. 

  
You know you’re in Finland when….

  
(I believe they are snacks made of reindeer, rather than snacks FOR your reindeer.)

Temppeliaukio Church (Rock Church). Very interesting, but I felt the vibe was more touristy than theological.
   
   
Esplanadi. We had a coffee at a gorgeous little cafe along here, and it reminded me so much of Paris.

   
 Kamppi Chapel (Chapel of Silence). This was my favourite place, it is stunning. And, as the name suggests, silent.

   
   
The iconic Helsinki image, at the railway station.

  
Some Christmas delights. I’ve had a small taste of the shopping available, it is amazing. I may be needing a bigger suitcase.

   
 Naturally there has been project time, mainly at night when I’m still on Brisbane time. I brought two lace weight projects with me because they take up so little room. The first is another crochet shawl from the Craftsy class, this one in pure linen on a 2.5mm hook. I am really enjoying it, I even got a few rows completed on the plane until I broke my little vintage plastic travel hook.

My other project is a Lilli Pilli wrap. This is designed for fingering weight, but the finished item is HUGE so I am doing it in laceweight, Debbie Bliss Rialto Lace, in light grey, dark grey and aqua on 3.25mm needles.
  
Both of these have been very soothing and enjoyable.
I’m going to take a bus right around the city tomorrow and slightly further afield. There are several yarn stores in Helsinki. They will be found.
B πŸ™‚

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48 thoughts on “Welcome to Helsinki

    • Well spotted Bruce! πŸ™‚ yes I do feel like I blend in πŸ™‚ thank you, yes it is rather grand, that’s a good word for it. Someone told me it was ‘monumental and grey’ but I have not found that to be the case, very colourful and very accessible so far πŸ™‚

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  1. How I felt for you after that long plane trip – took me right back to my last adventure in April when I got lost in the deserted airport………… I never realised you would be living alone when you got to Finland – that is so brave! It’s enough to be so far from home – and then the change in language is always a killer – and to spend your days alone is quite exhausting I found. I hope you find those yarn shops soon! I was really pleased to see that in Finland the colours available for tree decorating include the colours we have chosen this year, pink and cyan blue. I shall think of you as I put up the tree! Have fun – it sure is beautiful there!!

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    • Thank you Pauline, I didn’t know you are a fellow solo traveller! πŸ™‚ I can totally imagine getting lost in an airport after a long flight! It’s a strange delirium. You are exactly right, and I am absolutely knackered from the permanent slight tension. πŸ™‚ amazing how just having someone’s presence there makes life a lot easier. As an introvert this kind of thing takes me well out of my comfort zone, so sitting and knitting for an hour when I come back to my room is like meditation and I feel calm again πŸ™‚ so yarn stores are definitely a top priority! :)) Oh the Christmas decorations…they are to DIE for! πŸ™‚

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  2. What a HUGE change from Queensland time and weather for you. It certainly looks cold over there and immersing yourself in your genetic cultural heritage is an incredibly brave and wonderfully adventurous thing to do. Clever girl to take your crafts with you, you certainly won’t be bored. That image of the felt gnomes has to be the most quintessentially Finnish Christmas image that I could come up with off the top of my head. Lovely :). Have the very best time. I bet you are glad you hooked those hats and that jumper now. Can’t wait to see those yarn shops. I am still drooling from the yarn you are using in your W.I.P. πŸ˜‰

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    • Thank you lovely narf! :)) I felt instantly comfortable in the cold weather, but man, that time difference sure is a killer as you know! πŸ™‚ yes I am so glad for my knitting, both finished and unfinished πŸ™‚ (if it is the linen you like, I got it on Etsy, Lithuanian three ply, it is fabulous! :)) There are plenty of knits around everywhere to make me feel comfortable. πŸ™‚ The gnomes shall definitely be revisited and at least one will be coming home with me, they are incredibly cute! πŸ™‚

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      • You will have to share the source of that scrumptious linen when you return and after you recover. Cold weather is delicious. I love winter here in Tassie and whenever people complain about it I wonder why they don’t just move up to Queensland where winter doesn’t officially exist. Enjoy the heck out of your wonderful time away. πŸ™‚

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  3. The long haul is a pain but you’ll soon forget it; it’s like childbirth πŸ™‚ Thanks for the tour around the city; you covered a lot on your first day. The 12 hour sleep must have revived you. What are you eating? Our temps are in the mid 30s in Sydney so I kinda envy your relief from the heat. Can’t wait for your post on yarn πŸ™‚ Take care.

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    • Hahaha thank you Mary, I love your analogy πŸ™‚ oh yes I am soooo glad to have a break from the heat, it’s around 4-6 here but seriously I can’t wait for it to get colder. I bought a fancy schmancy winter jacket as of course I didn’t have one, and it’s too bloody warm, I have to leave it unbuttoned! πŸ™‚ snow next week, fingers crossed. Being paleo I mainly have to shop and cook for myself rather than eating out, it’s a bit of a pain but the supermarkets have fairly similar things to home. Pleased to find sweet potato here. Meat and veg and salads and eggs so far. But their coffee here is VERY good and at least I can have that while I’m out πŸ™‚ have memorised the location of yarn stores, hopefully get there today or tomorrow :))

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  4. What a beautiful city. So glad you made it and look to be settling in well. The rock church looks a bit like a bunker. Mmmm. I do love the sight of what looks to be roses still blossoming, sheltered inside a hedge. Could that be true so far north?

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    • Thank you Lisa, yes it is so gorgeous here πŸ™‚ haha bunker is the perfect description for that church! It’s very odd. Yes very well spotted, they are roses within a hedge, it was so pretty, even the guide took photos of that because she said it was so rare to find them flowering this time of year! πŸ™‚ I imagine the hedge protected them very well, and it is apparently quite warm for this time of year. πŸ™‚

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  5. Woot! You’re along way from Queensland “Dorothy”. It’s going to be so good following you and your discoveries. If you meet Sarentada (is that how it’s spelled?), say hello to him from another Aussie fan.

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    • Thanks Yvonne, haha you made me laugh because I almost wrote that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore, but thought it might be a little obscure! πŸ™‚ yes the lovely sartenada is in Oulu, which is a fair way from here but I’ll definitely look him up if I go up that way! :)) not sure if I’m still hallucinating, but I think I read you’re on your way over soon to Europe again too? If so hope you have an awesome trip too! :))

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  6. Wow, your pictures are absolutely stunning. Enjoy Helsinki, its looks so beautiful there.
    lol. Could not help but laugh at the description of the airport bathroom. Sounds very stark, and definitely enough to wake any traveler.
    Looking forward to more posts from Helsinki!! Have fun!!

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