Thursday, September 6, 2012

Looking for Aalto

It was a good thing that our in-flight movie player failed to work in our 12 hour flight from Singapore to Helsinki because we each were given a 20 Euro voucher by Finnair, and we slept. This meant that when we arrived at 6:40 a.m. Helsinki time, we were fresh and well rested. 

Some people think that our first impression of a city depends on how and where you enter it from; on what you see at this first point of entry. But I feel that my first impression of a city depends also on the first contact we have with the locals - and within the first two hours, Helsinki came across as efficient and self confident (it is the World Design Capital of 2012) though a bit aloof. 

When the nice lady at the hotel let us check in at 10:30 in the morning, the meter went from aloof to possibly friendly but shy (or limited by lack of a common language between us). Our only word of Finnish (or more correctly, Suomi) was 'kitos' (kee-tosh) or thank you.

the Esplanade Park (Etelaesplanadi) that leads to the harbour
Sam had the foresight to order the Helsinki Card which enable us free access on an audio-guided tour of Helsinki and all forms of public transport, which included bus, trams and sea ferry. We were on the tour with an hour of check-in (the Finnish efficiency is contagious) - we were on the bus to see Helsinki's sights -  Finlandia Hall and the Sibelius Monument amongst them. The highlight for me was the Tempeliaukio Church or "the Rock Church" - carved out of and embedded in rock; by two brothers and local architects, Timo and Tuomo Suomolainen.

our breakfast room where guests are invited to pack and take away their lunch as well

streets of Art Deco buildings

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