Helsinki was more of a stopover on my Lapland trip with Nokia. When I arrived, it was 12.00 midnight. All I did was to take a taxi and crash at the Airport Holiday Inn. Now what would I give to take a taxi without any fear at midnight in Delhi but then I wonder if it will ever happen in my lifetime? However, I digress.
The next morning I was back at the airport to take a flight to Kittila. I met Helsinki properly after I came back from Lapland. The first evening we went to the city center by taking a tram. People speak English easily in Finland and that was quite helpful.
There were four of us. The agenda for the evening was shopping and dinner. There were at least four instances in one evening when men held doors at shopping complexes for all the four of us. Now that made such a favorable impression on me!
I was also happy to see the local people clad warmly. Otherwise there have been times when to me it felt like Indian winter, people in other nations went ahead and declared summer! No such confusion at Helsinki, everyone agreed that it was still winter in March.
The same evening, I spotted this limousine and made a mental note to check out what was this club all about. Looks like it was a strip club! As it was a Saturday evening, the roads were full of people. In fact we had to try a few restaurants before we could find a seat for four. The weather was still cold but minus 3-4 felt surprisingly bearable after -22 of Kittila! Even though we were late in packing up for the night I promised myself a few hour’s walk in the morning at Helsinki.
The next day morning I got up before the alarm went off. But all I wanted was more sleep. I somehow dragged myself out of the bed from Hilton Strand so that I could steal a few moments at Helsinki. I started walking around the hotel first, the frozen lake looked cold and forbidding in the morning light. There were others who were up and about, either on a morning jog or just enjoying the sun.
I eventually found my way to the Helsinki Cathedral again. Early in the morning it was used by the locals as a jogging track, particularly the stairs. I enjoyed the cold and the clear weather. While I was about to leave the first tour bus discarded the excited tourists at the cathedral. For me, it was almost time to head back home.
After -22 degree Celsius of Levi, Lapland, -2 of Helsinki felt comfortable. After arrival at the Helsinki Airport (with free wifi) the first thing we went in search for was food. All 4 of us were hungry. Between us there was a lot of luggage so I offered to guard it while others promised to get me some vegetarian stuff. It didn’t take them long to come back. Soon we boarded a taxi to go on a visit to the Nokia House Helsinki. I was in Finland attending the #lumiainlapland event.
We registered our names at the reception but it was the lake beyond the reception that caught my eye. Imagine having a lake at the back of your office! I was told that in summer the office cafe puts out a few tables near the lake as well! I am sure they would be occupied almost all the time.
I was wondering what it would be like to get out of a team meeting and then go walk by a lake! or if you were not too thrilled about something at work, go walk by the lake till you clam down. I could build endless such scenarios but then I wonder if you get used to having a lake by your office in the end?
We were at the Nokia House Helsinki on a Friday evening and the cafe didn’t had too many people. But I could visualize it busy and bustling at certain times of the day! The place is huge with am ATM within the office! I am told in Finland most of the transactions are done via the card but the ATM is for those exceptional days when you needed cash due to some weird reason!
I had a great time interacting with Joeske Schellen (on the left), Head of Colors and Material Design and Jonne Harju, Senior Design Manager, Smart Devices. When they told me about the thought process that went into making a phone it was only then I appreciated how much hard work goes into making something I completely take for granted!
I asked them where do they think the next generation of cell phones are headed and Jonne said that probably they will become wearable! But he added that people might feel too bogged down with the numerous features they get and may go for something simpler. Joeske talked about the bright colors used in the Lumia series and how it sets it apart from others immediately.
We went around the impressive store where I managed to get my hands on the first Nokia mobile phone- the Mobira Talkman. I am only pretending to make a call. How small my Lumia 1020 looks next to it! After a beautiful evening at the Nokia House Helsinki we finally said bye to our hosts, it was time to hit the city center of Helsinki.
I am that window seat frenetic. I sulk and sulk through a flight if I am denied of one! From 18 to 23 March I took 6 flights in all. Much to my regret, I managed window seats only on four flights- Munich Helsinki, Helsinki Kittila, Kittila Helsinki and Munich Delhi. When I saw others looking at the Alps when the Delhi Munich flight was about to land, I was green with envy, I only had an aisle. Even though I had a window seat on the Munich Delhi flight and I was expecting a sunrise, it was not much! I sulk some more then! Flight window seat are synonymous for me!
With so many flights in a few days, my sleep went for a toss. OK, that is not really true. I do not get jetlag when I travel to Europe as I am anyway a night person. But with exciting #lumiainlapland events to attend, I would be greedy and try to get early in the morning too when there was really no need. There was only one day when I decided to sleep in till late at Levi and that day there was a nice sunrise. The next day when I got up early, it was snowing!
We also never had any late night events but all of us would talk so much to each other that it would be late before I got back to the Levi Spirit Villa, where we were staying. Then I would update the highlights of the day on Facebook and Twitter and that would make it really late when I would finally hit the bed. Usually I would be out the moment my head touched the pillow.
So when I had aisle seats on the flights, more often than not I would fall asleep. I would wake up quite scared wondering if I was snoring too! I prefer looking out of the window even when all I can see are the clouds, but then if I had an aisle seat then I guess sleep was one way to spend the flight. On the last Delhi Munich flight I had the last row window seat. There was no one on the seat next to me so I could stretch my legs. I kept watching movies for the entire flight. When one and a half hour remained I put some music on the in-flight entertainment and relaxed. I didn’t realize when I dozed off! I slept through the landing and woke up only when the PA system started saying “welcome to …”.
Glasses, tumblers, plates etc. bore me to death. But as I was walking along with others on the #lumiainlapland trip I had no option. They wanted to go to the Iittala Store in Helsinki, I had to go in as well. There was something about this place though that I almost ended up buying stuff. They had things in ceramics and glasses which looked simply gorgeous.
I was tempted to buy a coffee mug but then spending in Euros doesn’t come easy to me. Not that any other hard currency like dollar or pound is easy, but in Helsinki Euro was the currency and it was difficult to take it out of my bag. Then I almost flipped for candle holders. The trouble is that almost no one in my family uses candles but they looked so good!
I wanted to take a picture of this beautiful display of candle holders but I know that some of the store frown upon taking pictures inside a store. The lady standing at the counter sensed my hesitation and said, “it is alright to take pictures.” The words were such music to my ears. She said there were more than 1000 pieces in this display (this picture has a partial view) and they changed it once a year!
They had blue dinner plates that wanted to come out of the shelf and jump into my bag. It was just that I was not too keen to let the credit card out of my handbag. In the end the credit card won, it refused to get out and the plates had to stay on the rack! I mean imagine, me wanting to buy a plate! More often than not I may not even remember the colors of the plate at my home.
However, if I find myself there another time, I am sure I am going to buy stuff. The Iittala store was so full of beautiful things!