A quick Finnish

Yes it is a bit early in the day for me to have been for a walk. I am in Helsinki for a three day conference starting tomorrow and I travelled on the Saturday due to the fares being pretty cheap on the Saturday and the Sunday times being unrealistic for a wide awake Monday 9am start.

We are two hours ahead of BST here and I thought a morning walk would be best in getting used to that ready for tomorrow. I am a nervous traveller, not in being scared of flying or anything like that, but nervous about finding places and getting to them on time. Much more nervous than presenting to lots of people, as long as it’s about something I know.

So it was excellent to have a pretty easy journey yesterday and to find that public transport here appears to be very very good. I usually spend some time beforehand using Google Earth and Street View when visiting places for the first time and that did come in handy in finding the hotel and in this morning’s walk. I am happy in having a hotel up to a couple of miles from a conference venue and therefore having a decent stroll in the morning and evening and the one I have in Helsinki is about 1.8 miles from Statistics Finland. So today’s main task was to walk there and back – and I did that in 35 minutes (one way) with hardly a glance at the myriad street maps I had at my disposal, thanks to Street View. It all looked so familiar.

Of course, it is a foreign country and customs differ. I noticed quickly that pedestrians stopped at road crossings when the red man was displayed, and crossed when the green man appeared, no matter how much or how little traffic was in the vicinity. I thought there must be some by law against crossing when the red man was there, but later I did see a few youngsters cross with the roads clear and the red man watching. I guess it must be an age thing. A lot of young people smoke and there are more than the normal proportion of blonde women, by UK standards at any rate. The other thing to notice is the price in restaurants and food outlets. Quite expensive indeed, and even a very small coffee and a lemon muffin during my walk set me back 6 Euros.

But Helsinki is an interesting city. On the bus from the airport, we passed the Olympic Stadium (1952 in case you are wondering – there are quite a few other cities with an “Olympic Stadium” that have never held the Olympics). Every big city also appears to have a river running through it, as Pammy noted on holiday, and here is no different:


On getting back near the hotel in central Helsinki, I walked through and around a large park, seeing that there is some sort of fairground, but I didn’t enter that bit since it looks sort of creepy for a middle aged bloke (or one close to retirement, as some would have you believe) to be wandering about on his own where there are loads of children.

So a few miles this morning, quite chilly at 11 Centigrade and a decent wind just to ensure that hands and pockets are at one. Going exploring the city centre this afternoon and  looking forward to tomorrow’s conference.

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