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A picture (mostly in words) of Helsinki

It's a while - a long while - since I wrote a travalogue of one of my journeys - things have gone from busy to mad to manic over the past year and that's hardly a suprise - in the last year we have bought a house, refurbished it into a high quality hotel, planned all the rooms, staffing, systems, opening and operations ... and still kept courses running (an income flow to gelp finance the expansion) with little or no dropping off.

However, I sit now on a Finnair flight from Helsinki back to Heathrow with a camera - up there in the rack above my head - stuffed with pictures taken on a Friday evening and Saturday morning in the Finnish capital and there's some wonderful material there that I want to link together and share.

Is Finland a part of Europe, or a part of the East? It's both. It was a territory of Russia before it broke away during the last Century, but now it very much looks like - and looks to - Europe. Working in a near-central suburb, visiting the home of one of the people I was training, walking around the City centre I felt we could have been in a city in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany or Austria. Not really Scandinavian. Certainly not - now - Russian. "Look Graham - the only thing we really had and retain in common is the Vodka" says one of my contacts.

Is Finland ancient or modern? It's modern. Very little dates back more than 100 years - a handful of historic buildings, perhaps, but that's about it. Some architecture from the early part of the last century, but the majority less - far less - than that. And yet there's an underlying ancient or old fashioned element - you'll find the haze of smoke in a restaurant, see parcels laying around unattended, be able to use luggage lockers at the main station and see children out on their own - things that modern society elsewhere has moved on from with safety and security issues. And you can buy bear meat, elk, reindeer ... and reindeer skins. The ancient still shows through, all be it for a tourist show at times.

Over 95% of Finns have mobile phones. And the electronics isn't just up to date - it seems to be very much in the future. "Where do you recommend we eat?" I asked my hosts, and they directed me to eat.fi - not just a directory of places to eat but a conprehensive one with reviews, with opening times and maps shown, and with the map updating through the day to show you where is open, where closed, and even where is open but closing in the next hour.

Public transport is good, efficient, and cheap to use. Maps and diagrams of routes are clear and the ticketing system is simple. My chances to sample were limited, but the Metro (underground) wasn't overcrowded and seem to be running to a correct schedule. The bus turned up and ran when we expected it, the trams looked like on time, and the trains were running in and out of the central station like worker ants, silent, smooth and fast. No doubt they *do* have service incidents, but I saw no evidence of any.

"How do I find out how to get to xxxx?" - another question of my hosts for I am an inquisitve (a.k.a. nosey) guest. "Just pop your location into your GPS system and it will give you the walking route to the appropriate public transport, the timetable, change information, and your walking route at the end too". True integration - perhaps Finland is THE most developed country in the world as far as this is concerned.

"The people make the country". Polite, happy to help, and happy to help the visit / tourist honestly. The lady at the airport wanted to be sure of where we were going to ensure that we were able to import what we were buying, and she wanted to be sure that I knew that it was reindeer liver that I had, and not the regular meat. Good for her, and thank you. The clerks at the hotel, when the wired internet didn't work on the first evening, gave us wireless access for the wired price (I'm not sure why Wifi is normally 3 times the wired price, mind you!).

Finland is a country of water - we saw that as we flew out with a lake and island patchwork visible from the plane until we reached the Baltic. And yet we got a distorted view in Helsinki. Perhaps time would have allowed us to see a more realistic view on the ground ... perhaps this is a city to return to some time; the evidence of other things to see that I come back with is scant, but it's a friendly people and - perhaps some time when we've wound back from manic to mad to merely busy, we'll take a summer fortnight to revisit Helsinki, and take side visits to St Petersburg and Tallin too.


I've put further pictures of Helsinki here - night, here - day and here.
(written 2007-04-14, updated 2007-04-15)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
Z200 - Places
  [66] A Taste of Ireland - (2004-09-28)
  [70] Red Luas - early life and times - (2004-10-02)
  [92] Hard work, Hard sell - (2004-10-18)
  [186] Lull - (2005-01-22)
  [218] Golden Nugget - (2005-02-17)
  [403] Full circle - made it back to an old haunt - (2005-08-05)
  [670] Architectural Heritage - Devizes - (2006-04-04)
  [685] A couple of days away - (2006-04-15)
  [713] Pictures from my travels - (2006-05-07)
  [727] A journey, an arrival, a people - (2006-05-21)
  [730] Reading the newspaper and working with other restrictions - (2006-05-23)
  [740] Finishing up in Dhahran - (2006-06-01)
  [778] Weekend in Ireland - (2006-06-26)
  [886] Signs of Leek - (2006-10-04)
  [1204] Spot the difference - (2007-05-25)
  [1229] Where am I? - (2007-06-11)
  [1244] FolksFest Bristol - German beer, Bratwurst and music - (2007-06-24)
  [1298] From Leeds - (2007-08-10)
  [1307] Troy, up state New York - (2007-08-17)
  [1425] Melksham v Ely - (2007-11-09)
  [1456] Right up to the top of the City - (2007-12-03)
  [1457] A day in Ljubljana - (2007-12-04)
  [1460] Christmas fare in Ljubljana - (2007-12-05)
  [1524] Nottingham - just text! - (2008-01-30)
  [1536] A Weekend in Liverpool - (2008-02-10)
  [1537] To Wales - where theres still a toll on the bridge - (2008-02-11)
  [1590] All Change, Portsmouth Harbour - (2008-03-23)
  [1617] Steam Engines at Bressingham - (2008-04-20)
  [1624] From Freddie the fallow - (2008-04-27)
  [1638] Pictures far apart - (2008-05-10)
  [1639] Minehead Marauder - (2008-05-11)
  [1652] Old Sarum airfield brings back fond memories - (2008-05-24)
  [1714] Hillier Gardens, Hampshire - (2008-07-20)
  [1715] Pictures from South Hampshire - (2008-07-21)
  [1730] Punting on the Cam - (2008-07-31)
  [1755] Istanbul - (2008-08-15)
  [1804] Colvin and Carlisle - (2008-09-20)
  [1807] A sad town in the sunlight - (2008-09-22)
  [1837] Alfred the Great - (2008-10-13)
  [2205] An evening walk in Carrickfergus - (2009-05-29)
  [2207] North Antrim Coast - a jewel thats well worth a visit - (2009-05-29)
  [2316] Guadalajara - a special tour of a lovely city - (2009-08-01)
  [2387] to Clifton Down and Avonmouth - (2009-08-30)
  [2392] Lymington, New Forest - some pictures - (2009-09-03)
  [2411] Further North - long summer days and lovely countryside - (2009-09-19)
  [2624] Skyline and looking up in London - (2010-02-04)
  [2733] Travel Troubles and Jesus again - (2010-04-21)
  [2754] At Arlington and the Pentagon - (2010-05-07)
  [2799] Nuremberg - some pictures - (2010-06-08)
  [2802] After the Perl course in Nurnberg - (2010-06-11)
  [2808] From home to Nurnberg - journey pictures - (2010-06-13)
  [2809] Frankfurt in 90 minutes - (2010-06-13)
  [2897] The Land of the Black Labrador - (2010-08-01)
  [2907] Dartmouth, Kingswear and Torbay - (2010-08-07)
  [2985] Right place, right season - (2010-10-04)
  [3064] On the way to the course this week - (2010-11-22)
  [3070] Belfast, on a cold November evening - (2010-11-25)
  [3175] The Rhine in winter - (2011-02-19)
  [3185] Day Trip to Hereford, in pictures - (2011-02-26)
  [3204] Two views of a war memorial - (2011-03-17)
  [3297] A long day, a long journey, and families and similarities the world over - (2011-05-22)
  [3330] A lot of exercise this week - (2011-06-21)
  [3353] Off the beaten track - non-quite-so-tourist spots - (2011-07-10)
  [3393] Rodwell Trail, Weymouth - (2011-08-15)
  [3529] Sharpness, Gloucestershire - a place in transport history - (2011-11-25)
  [3595] Looking up - (2012-01-27)
  [3603] Another cold night - (2012-02-03)
  [3631] Getting around Dublin by public transport - some observations - (2012-03-01)
  [3654] On a sunny afternoon in London - (2012-03-15)
  [3667] A modern area of Cambridge - some thoughts provoked? - (2012-03-22)
  [3803] A Walk on the South Bank - (2012-07-13)
  [3854] Busmans Holiday - I like being a busman - (2012-09-02)
  [4011] From Salford - (2013-02-19)
  [4052] The PHP course this week is in... Salford - (2013-03-26)
  [4125] The first Luas of the morning - (2013-06-29)
  [4182] Welcome to Salford and Oldham - (2013-09-30)
  [4184] A fond memory - (2013-10-02)
  [4203] A weekend away - Four in a Bed returns to Happy Donkey Hill - (2013-11-09)
  [4214] A busy week, and a long flight - (2013-11-24)
  [4220] Thun, Switzerland - (2013-12-14)
  [4331] Musings on a Welsh town - (2014-11-28)
  [4348] Taking my life in my hands in Swansea - (2014-12-11)
  [4411] Location, location location. And a chance of a giggle! - (2015-02-01)
  [4477] Yesterday - off on leg one of our holiday - (2015-04-29)
  [4479] Pictures from around Rekjavik - (2015-04-29)
  [4480] Crossing between continents - (2015-04-30)
  [4486] Newark to New York - the PATH suburban railway - (2015-05-05)
  [4488] Election day, 2015 - (2015-05-07)
  [4490] What and where are the Azores? - (2015-05-09)
  [4497] Around the world from Melksham - (2015-05-25)
  [4643] From last July (2015) - (2016-02-08)
  [4671] Ruby training, half a world away - (2016-05-14)
  [4683] Saudi Arabia or Weymouth? - (2016-05-22)
  [4729] The oldest part of Los Angeles - (2016-11-23)
  [4730] San Juan Capistrano - (2016-11-23)


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Some other Articles
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Helsinki - what comes naturally
Turning objects into something you can store - Pickling (Python)
Python decorators - wrapping a method call in extra code
A picture (mostly in words) of Helsinki
__new__ v __init__ - python constructor alternatives?
Using a list of keys and a list of values to make a dictionary in Python - zip
Python dictionary for quick look ups
A course in Helsinki
Planters in the Spring
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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