First day in Helsinki was a bust. We arrived in the city at around 12:30 in the afternoon. The outskirts looked very Eastern Block as we drove through a bleak grey and white landscape past Soviet-style concrete housing on the outskirts. Of course it was 5:30 a.m Eastern Standard time and we had all been [mostly] awake since about 6 a.m. the previous morning.
In the city center the buildings were more traditional--Finnish National Romantic style and some Art Noveau. It reminds me of the city center of Montreal. There are parks, cathedrals, and, is that a frozen lake? It is hard to tell since everything is frozen and covered with snow. After checking into the boutique Hotel Anna, most of just crashed. A few hours of sleep did not take much of the edge off the long night, though we were all up for the welcome meal at Harald's--a Viking themed restaurant. (There were no Vikings in Finland.)
Conversation lagged and then died as we all retreated into a zombie state, longing for a bed. We walked about 9 blocks to and from the hotel in the 20 degree weather. Good clothing goes a long way to making the walk comfortable--so long as the wind is not blowing. Most of us looked just like the natives--sensible winter boots with every other part wrapped up in hats, gloves, and hoods that don't turn when you turn your head (watch out for the oncoming traffic.)
The real visit would start after shedding the traveling hangover.