I went to Helsinki for the weekend for some R & R. The weather, unfortunately, was a little crappy (Melbourne would actually have been warmer) but I had a good time nonetheless.
Nate and I caught up with my friend Marja and we first headed over to the Esplanadi for lunch (I had a delicious salmon soup).
It was 'Helsinki Day' on Saturday and there were a lot of activities going on in the city. After lunch we checked out a market nearby before heading into the design district. On our way to the Design Museum, we walked past some interesting plant stands on the sidewalk that had rubber snakes and lizards hidden in the pot plants. Marja pointed out that it was the entrance to a shop that sold interesting clothes so we decided to go in for a look. I ended up buying a jumper; my first item of clothing with elbow patches.
The owner of the shop was a friendly lady but she wore the most hideous outfit I had ever seen. It was a denim and leather homage to bad 80's rock paired with 90's MC Hammer pants. There was a huge hole cut out the front of the large-shouldered shirt that exposed the sad-looking cleavage of someone who really ought to be wearing a more uplifting bra.
Anyhoo...after wandering around the shops in the design district, we headed back towards the city centre and fortuitously stumbled past the city fire station which was holding an open day. Marja insisted we go in to check out the firefighters and the trucks (she was positively drooling in anticipation). Here is a picture of Marja looking very happy after checking out the fire trucks.
It didn't take her very long to point out the firefighter she liked (not surprisingly, he was tall and blonde). I much preferred the slightly stockier guy with the shaved head but Marja thought his bottom was too big. Nathan shook his head and commented that they were all rather ugly and would just as well die in a fire than call the Finnish fire brigade.
After Marja had finished checking out the firefighters, we walked the (numerous) stairs up to the fire tower and had an amazing view of the city below.
By then, some of the clouds had even lifted and we could see blue sky (though it was still very windy). By the time we descended the stairs, we were all pretty much buggered and so Nate and I parted ways with Marja and headed back to my friend Topi's place where we were staying.
By Sunday, the rain had returned. Nate and I headed back into the city for lunch when there was a break in the weather and, afterwards, walked through a very nice park past the beautiful Finlandia Concert Hall designed by Alvar Aalto (Finland's most celebrated architect). The building itself, with the sharp angles, reminds me of some of the public buildings in Canberra.
We eventually ended up at the Olympic Stadium which played host to the 1952 Olympics. The paintwork outside looked a bit shabby and I thought it was nowhere near in as good a condition as the MCG.
I left Nathan to come back to the fieldstation last night and, on my way to my room, walked past a bunch of Finns and Germans watching the match between Germany and Australia. I paused briefly to check out the score and quietly made my retreat.