My last trip of 2018.
This time last year I was in the Sahara, in Morocco. 20⁰c in the middle of the day.
Yesterday it was -12⁰c when I got off the plane at Helsinki Airport in the early afternoon.
I have two nights here (24th and 25th) and then I’m off to Vilnius for a week.
Finnair brought me here – an excellent flight. It cost me £242 one way, but I was quite late in getting booked up. We left Edinburgh early – no drones, no ATC problems, no weather problems – and arrived a little early too. My bag was waiting for me on the carousel by the time I got there.
I waited less than 10 minutes for a train at the airport, and at €5 for a ticket, it is a good deal. 35 minutes later I was at the central station.
My hotel is the Vaakuna, just across the street from the station. It was completed in 1952 to house athletes participating the Helsinki Olympics and renovations since then have left plenty reminders of 1950s style.
The room is warm, comfortable and quiet, the staff are friendly and helpful, the buffet breakfast is excellent, and the price (€120 per night, from memory) is good – particularly when taking into account the relatively high prices here generally. I choose well.
The day I arrived it was dark before I got to the hotel (4pm) but I got out for a walk in the evening. I had forgotten how quickly you get cold when it is -12⁰ even if you keep moving.
On the 25th the temperature shot up to zero, bringing with it wet snow and then rain. I hiked around the city a bit for 90 minutes – to walk off breakfast – before heading back for shelter at the hotel.
My flight tomorrow is a 10:15 departure, so it will be an early start.
ⓒ iain taylor, 2018