A Short Stopover in Helsinki

Helsinki is most definitely not on the way to Cyprus – for anybody except me! This time, Boris and I agreed that I will come to Helsinki, and then we fly to Cyprus together. That was another reason I worried a little bit about the flight delay – our flight to Cyprus was at 7-20 AM the next day.

But as I said, everything got resolved. For a long time, I was suspicious about Icelandair initially, but now I like their flights – they are the shortest since they pass the Atlantic closest to the North Pole, and their connections are also quick. And now that I know they do not serve hot meals on board, I am OK with that :). Even this time, with three hours delay, I got to Helsinki at a reasonable time.
I love the new airport transit in Helsinki, especially since I installed the Helsinki Public Transit app :). Now I can buy my ticket on my phone and do not waste time at the station.

You can enter the station straight from the terminal
The trains operate every 5-10 minutes

The same ticket will be good for the train to get me home!

Delayed Flight

On Friday, my flight to Helsinki was delayed because of the snow. Funny how everybody forgets how to operate in winter when snow is expected! It was delayed just enough to make my connection impossible – I only had a little bit over an hour.
But I was amazed by how well Icelandair operated: the moment we landed in Reykjavik I received both email and text with rebooked flight; the new flight was by Finnair and less than three hours. The rest of my schedule didn’t suffer. Plus, they gave me a meal voucher, and I had a huge breakfast at the airport:

Turned out, that we were lucky: over 600 flights from ORD were canceled that night!

Getting Ready to Go to Cyprus

I am leaving in less than three days, and I am still only partially packed and can get a feel neither about the weather nor the dress code of the event. I have never been to Cyrpus, and at this time of the year, people do not go to Cyprus :).

I just got a long email from the conference organizers, and at the very end of that super-long email, they mention that the electric plug on Cyprus is English! I would not have an idea! In fact, I already packed my European connectors :). Good to know :).
In addition, I am staying after work today to run Chicago PUG meetup, and I am going to the shelter tomorrow night to cook dinner with the residents. And Thursday is my last day in the office before I leave, and also I need to visit Mom :). And I really want to rehearse my presentation a couple of times… Wish me luck 🙂

Helsinki, Decorated for Christmas

I planned to see the city lights in Hlesinki and hopefully to skate. The latter didn’t happen, because of 1) long lines 2) Boris does not skate 3) I decided I do not want to spend time on the solo activity plus 20 min wait. But we walked around quite a bit. Here are some pictures:

Ten pictures from the City Center. I liked this little fur tree with the blinking lights a lot!
The windows of Karl Fazer store – my favorite!
Several small videos of the moving figurines in the Stockmann windows

That’s the first time tried to embed instagram posts in my WP post. I like the fact this way you can use the errors and scroll through multiple photos. Let me know whether you like this idea!

Christmas Eve in Helsinki

One of the craziest things I ever did – the flights both way with two connections, more time in the air than in Helsinki. But if I am supposed to be not just a godmother for Sonia, but a Fairy Godmother for the whole family, I have to measure to these standards!


Flying there:

O’Hare Airport
O’Hare Airport: the best things for Christmas!
I had to explain this Santa that I am going were the REAL Santa lives!
Continue reading “Christmas Eve in Helsinki”

The Best Thing to Eat in Finland – the Salmon Soup

One of the best things in Finland is Finnish cuisine. Although it’s difficult for me to select just one thing which is ultimately the best if pressed to make a choice, I will choose the Finnish salmon soup.

Boris and I have a whole grading system for the establishments in Helsinki and around, which serve the salmon soup. Sometimes the place we love would stop serving the salmon soup or do not serve it every day, or the quality degrades. However, for the past several months, our Number One salmon soup place is a ravintola by the pier of Suomenlinna, right where the passengers disembark for the ferry.

I do not know why it is almost never too crowded. Perhaps, because people think that the first place they come across can’t be the best. Or maybe they do not like salmon soup as much :).

But we made a choice. Sometimes, when we do not even have time to walk around the island, we come there just for the soup – after all, it’s only 15 minutes of the ferry ride. For 10 euros you get a quart of soup as thick as a stew, yummy like nothing else, as much of the freshly baked baguette as you want and a cup of coffee or tea.

Taking Pictures: a Funny Thing Happened

I was talking tons of fall foliage pictures in Helsinki because this time of the year, the colors in Finland are already breathtakingly beautiful. And if didn’t even start in Illinois :).

Boris’ apartment is right by the Sibelius park, which means any time you get outside, there is plenty to marvel, and tons of pictures are just asking to be taken.


I was taking this picture (the sun was setting slowly and shining through the yellow leaves) when I saw a car on the opposite side of the road slowing down, just like the passerby would slow down when they see you taking pictures on the street.


I could not believe this slowing down was related to me :). After all, it was the opposite side of the street. May be they slow down for the red light ahead? But then… the car made a U-turn and slowed down, almost stopped, right in front of me. I saw a guy on the back seat looking out from the rolled down window, holding the camera! And he was taking a picture of this tree! After he was finished, the car drove away.


Maybe you won’t find it funny, but we laughed for another good twenty minutes, recalling the incident.

More of the Finnish beauty:

Biking in Helsinki

As I’ve mentioned, there was a lot of biking this time in Helsinki. The last two days were too cold for biking without gloves, and I did not have any biking gloves with me. But that’s the beauty of having your bike – when I could bike, I did.

I can’t even start to describe how everything in Helsinki as suited for bikers. The house has bike storage, where bikes can be stored not only standing, but also elevated.

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The First 24 Hours in Helsinki

Boris asked me to call him on facetime when the plane touches the ground so that he will get ready to go to the railway station. I am so happy that I have my internet with me for no extra cost! Yes, my Sprint plan is not cheap, but with my amount of travels, it’s great that I never have to think about it. The moment the plane lands, I can start using my phone.

I have not been here since May, and I forgot that I have a Helsinki transportation app on my iPhone. I could buy my ticket on the way from the baggage claim to the train, and hop on the first train that has arrived. It’s a minor delay, but it shows how we all are creatures of habit. I forgot the way I did it once but remembered how I did it for many years.

When we met at the Central Train Station, he took me to Robert’sCoffee for a cappuccino with a cinnamon bun. It has become symbolic for me – the first meal on the Finnish soil has to be a Finnish cinnamon bun 🙂

It’s the 50s here, compare to our upper 70s, but the fall colors are beautiful!

And I finally got a bike! We talked for a long time of me having my own bike in Helsinki so that I won’t have to rent each time. Boris was always saying that this goes not provide any economic advantage, but the difference is in time not wasted, and I believe it’s worth it.

Most of the stores were closed on Sunday afternoon, and I didn’t like the bikes we saw (they didn’t fit my small body :)), but this morning we finally got what I needed!

Me and my new Electra Bike

This Week Started Crazy and Ended the Same Way

It was an incredibly intense week. Each day at work was packed with meetings from 9 to 5, some days covering the lunchtime as well. The two days which I worked from home were even more intense, with my and Mom’s doctors’ appointments and the same amount of work which had to be done.


All my time was work because when you have meetings all day long, you need some time to do the actual work. Oh, and on the top of it I was dealing with the consequences of the loss of my Jumpcloud password, and subsequent reset of my Apple ID, all passwords on the computer, and finally – a disappearance of “My Documents”…

Continue reading “This Week Started Crazy and Ended the Same Way”