More Helsinki

What else is there in summer? The strawberries that can’t be matched, forty flavors of ice cream, pride festivities, 86F weather for two weeks in a row.

Oodi deck – it’s almost impossible to stay there at 87F!

And also – Helsinki’s IKEA.

IKEA always gives me a sense of stability and an “all is right” feeling. Now, it is almost impossible for me to go to the Schaumburg IKEA, so most of my orders are online (which means, that IKEA food is out of reach for me). We decided to go to IKEA “just for window shopping,” but then we found these coffee cups of that perfect pale turquoise which was gone several years ago. The cups were not rectangular as Boris likes them, but they were still near perfect. We didn’t buy them because I wanted to check online first, and for some reason, my internet went down. When I checked at home, it turned out that 1) this was a new product and 2) this color was sold out in all of the IKEA stores in the US!

The next day, when I was at the Swiss PG Day, Boris went there again and got two boxes of coffee cups with saucers, and a box of espresso cups. I only managed to get one box in my luggage, and he should bring the other two when he comes to Chicago next time.

Summer Music In Helsinki

During my unplanned stay in Helsinki earlier this week, we went to two concerts. One was a short lunchtime concert at Suomenlinna Church (yes, we went there again :)).

Very short, but very pleasant

Then on Wednesday, we went to the concert of Finnish Baroque Orchestra in the Saksalainen Church in Helsinki. Boris is a part of their “friends circle”, and I never attended their concerts.

They are really-really-really good! Performing “here and now”, enjoying what they do, and giving the distinct feeling of “making the music”.

Saksalainen Church

A New Twist In Biking In Helsinki

Boris had a very bad bike accident on Wednesday. He says that’s because the sun was bright and because he was not looking at the road but looking back, making sure I was not left behind. In my opinion, the problem was his state of mind. Before we went, I asked him whether he was sure we should go, and he said – yes, it might become better.

He had very serious reasons to be upset, so all is understandable, but as a result, he ran into the rear of a police car – at full speed! I am not even going to describe his face (it still looks very impressive, and actually worse than right after the accident), but the most amazing thing is that he broke a police car bumper!!!

The police filed a proper report, and the hilarious part of this story was that the officer said: we hope our insurance will cover the damage, but we need to check. Most times, it’s not the bike hitting a car, but the opposite, so we need to check whether they would cover the situations like this!

A Rose Garden

Boris took me to another rose garden – and I thought I knew all of them in Helsinki, at least the ones which are close to the city center. But here is another one – and in walking distance from our home.

And yes, not all of the flowers pictured here are roses, I know 🙂

Now we are finally talking roses!
These ones look so much like the lilac roses in San Jose,just the European size 🙂
Continue reading “A Rose Garden”

Summer Soltis In Helsinki

Helsinki greeted me with rain and barely 60F, but today is sunny, and isn’t it great to be so close to the North on the Summer Soltis?! I do not think I saw any dark last night:). Somehow, 63F seems miserably cold in Chicago but feels perfectly summery in Helsinki.
And the bike paths! And the ability to bike everywhere, and the parks so close to the city center! Yes, as much as I complain about missing out on two weeks of Chicago summer, I enjoy these days in Helsinki – a perfect summer in a different way.

Rainy day
I think that my lake looks more like a sea than that sea 🙂
Pear ice-cream
Goselings

Sinebrychoff Art Museum

On Tuesday, I met with my friend Natasha, and she took me to the Sinebrychoff’s Art Museum.

As the museum site states, the private art collection gathered by Fanny and Paul Sinebyshoff was bequeathed to the Finnish state in 1921. All I can say is that the collection is really impressive; many of the items are real masterpieces. There are some Early Renaissance and Medieval Italian paintings, Dutch and Flemish art, Russian Icons as old as the 14th century, and many other art pieces. I wish there would be more information available in English and more information in general. Many artworks do not have an artist’s name, the origin, or both, or do not have the art school specified. For example, a 15th-century Russian icon can come from different parts of Russia, or an “anonymous artist” of the 18th century could come from different countries, and I would love to know about that :).

Here are some pictures I took in the museum:

We were wondering what this is and what it could be used for. Does anybody know?
Continue reading “Sinebrychoff Art Museum”

Biking

Each time I bike in Helsinki, I marvel at how awesome the bike paths are! I can’t even compare it with Chicago! Pretty much anywhere in the city, the bike lanes are clearly marked, and it is completely safe to bike. And there are so many different routes! In Chicago, if I decide to go biking after work, I have to navigate heavy traffic even if I follow the bike routes, and it might take me up to 30 minutes to reach the Lake Front Trail. Here in Helsinki, I can bike anywhere at any time of the day!

Spring in Helsinki

Who was lamenting that travel will never be the same?! It is “the same,” and I do not like it :). Half of O’Hare is maskless; the security lines are gigantic, the planes are full – I forgot how to sit that close to others! At the same time, there is still no choice of food unless you pre-ordered.

However, the spring in Helsinki is beautiful! The non-stop flight arrives early, and during my first day here, I got all my favorite things: the salmon soup, blueberry pie, ice cream on the seashore, and a ninety-minute bike ride with crazy up and downhill all the way!

Last Days In Helsinki

My EDB hoodie arrived after both events were over, but it still looks great!

Initially, we planned a short trip to Tallinn on Saturday, mostly for the sake of the COVID certificate for my flight back on Sunday. But it turned out that after most COVID restrictions were lifted, only a small number of cruises provided testing on board, and there was no testing on Saturdays. Fortunately, one of my new colleagues told us about another budget option, “9Lives”, and I used it on Saturday.

They have multiple locations, including the one in Kamppi, and they open every day from 7 AM to 9 PM. I was very happy that I had this option, especially because the weather on Saturday was horrific, with exceptionally strong winds and some flurries. I didn’t want to go for a walk in this weather, but I also didn’t want to sit inside all day long. To have a purpose for getting out of the house, Boris suggested we go to IKEA – since I moved to the city, I lost easy access to the Schaumburg store and had to switch to online shopping. I can order almost everything online, but it’s nice when you can see how things look in real life :). So we went and had lunch there, and then walked from IKEA back to the train station.

This time, I had checked luggage because Boris wanted me to take home a bottle of cognac gifted to him a couple of years ago by somebody who didn’t know (or didn’t believe) he does not drink alcohol. And since I already knew I would have checked luggage, I bought a lot of dairy products to take home.

***

On Friday, one of the Nordic Day participants informed us that he tested positive for COVID. I was in very close contact with him, so I became nervous. Since I expected that something like that might happen while attending public events, I brought four at-home tests with me. Noth Boris and I were negative, and I took the test to enter the US; everything was negative. The organizers encouraged us to keep testing, and I took another at-home test on Monday when I came back home. At that time, I used a test from a different vendor, and I forgot that the colors in this test were reversed. Also, I had to orient the test differently. So at first, I thought that I was positive. I even speculated for a couple of minutes how it could possibly be if I had zero symptoms, and then I realized that there was only one stripe :).

Then, a day later, another participant, this time from PG Day Paris, informed us that she tested positive, and once again, I was in very close contact with her! And again, nothing wrong with me. To be honest, I think there were plenty of other opportunities in Paris to get COVID!
At least now, I think that it will be from some other place if I get it.

***

At the airport, I stopped at the kiosk to get my last cup of Finnish coffee with the last cinnamon bun. The cashier asked me whether I would like to round my total to aid Ukraine. I said – sure, why not, and thought that’s a good idea. The posters about helping Ukraine were everywhere in the city, and I felt that people were taking it seriously.

I am sure I didn’t buy a seat for my flight back, but somehow I ended up being in a preferred seat, which was nice. I sat very close to the aircraft door, and I had extra legroom, and very nice seat, and a kit with toothpaste, face moisturizer, and other nice extras.

However, the ORD was crowded, not even “as before the pandemic” but as ” I can’t remember when I last saw anything like this.” The passport machines were closed again, and there were lines to the border control. I was first sent to one line, where I had to wait a lot because there was a family of six, and then two other people, and then they said that they are closing that line/ And guess what – in the line where they sent me, another family of six just started their process!!! There was even a long line for agricultural control and a traffic jam outside the terminal.

On the positive side, despite the sky-rocketing gas prices, Uber’s cost was a record low.