My husband had a conference in Copenhagen but the cheapest airfare was going through Helsinki and spending a night there. I am so glad I stopped there, wish I had stayed longer. I absolutely loved Helsinki. I also fell in love with Finnish Blueberry juice.
We were very unfortunate to fly out of O’Hare Terminal 5 during the TSA employee shortage. That means that we stood in line for 3 hours. Thankfully we had heard about this problem and got to the airport with time to spare. The thing that made me upset is that all the airlines would go through the line and get their passengers and put them at the head of the line so those of us who got there just kept getting pushed back.
Once we got in our plane every thing went well. Finn Air was a standard airline. They did seem to serve more drinks, which was fine with me since I fell in love with Blueberry juice.
The airport in Helsinki is nice and has easy transportation to downtown. We took the Finn Air bus which drops you off at the main train station downtown.
We stayed at the very nice Radisson Blue Royal Hotel which was also near the train station. Everything around central Helsinki is very easily accessible. I thought there would have been more bikes like in Copenhagen but it is very pedestrian.
Unfortunately the biggest part of our time was spent at an immediate care. My husband had double pink eye and a sinus infection. Going to the doctor in Finland was very easy and very affordable. I understand they have socialized medicine but because we were foreign I don’t think it would cover us. So we found a private clinic near our hotel.
Thankfully everyone speaks perfect English and we were in to see the doctor within 15 minutes. At check-in they ask what your problem is and they assign you to the correct type of doctor. Unlike in the US, you don’t have a nurse taking all your vitals, the doctor does all that. He then looked at my husband’s eyes, ear, nose. Then he turned off the light and put some eye drops and looked in his eye with a blue light. He said that it was a simple infection and that he needed some medication. He prescribed some eye drops, eye cream, a nasal mist and an antibiotic. There was a pharmacy right next door. The cool thing about the pharmacy is that they type the order in and it comes up by conveyor belt much different than my Wal-Mart pharmacy where you can see all the drugs and the pharmacists working. Also the drugs come in the right size for the prescription so they don’t have to count pills like they do here. I think that save us money because there is less handling.
The total cost for the doctor’s visit was about $62 and the drugs were about $72. My friend told me that the individual eye drops here would cost over $150. So not bad. I think we could have turned that to some insurance but it was so affordable and convenient that I didn’t bother. I wish the doctor had tied my husband down and done a complete check up. He never goes to doctors unless he’s really sick so we know he was not feeling well.
But he was a trooper and walked around Helsinki with me. As you know, I love Rick Steve’s books so I used the Helsinki Walk to see most of the town in the shortest amount of time.
Because by now it was late afternoon we missed out on several things, but it’s okay, I will save them for my next trip. The walk starts at Czarina’s Square which is by the harbor. There are several important looking buildings and monuments here. It also appears to be a very lively part of town with markets in the morning.
We ate at the Cafe Engel near the Senate Square. They have many cakes and light meals. I had the best Beetroot hamburger. I didn’t know there was such a thing but I loved it and my husband had meatballs. I guess we are close enough to Sweden to be influenced and of course we had some great desserts.
The thing that really amazed me about Helsinki were the very colorful shops. Everything is very bright, bold and geometric. So many stores dedicated to home decor and house linens.
The Kamppi Plaza has the beautiful Chapel of Silence which looks a lot like Noah’s Ark. The Music Center is near a beautiful lake where you can sit and enjoy watching people riding their bikes.
Because we had so little time and had to spend most of it dealing with my husband’s health issues we didn’t get the time to enjoy much of Helsinki. Next time I plan on visiting more sights and going out to the islands and maybe even go on a ferry to Russia.
In the morning before heading out to the airport we had the chance to see the outside of Temppeliaukio Church, best known as the Church in the Rock. It is an amazing sight and fun to walk around. I bet it is just a magnificent inside.
My biggest discovery in Finland was an office chair store. They had hundreds of different types of chairs and they were all kinetic. The sales person was telling me that movement was good, sitting still was bad. That is why we end up with so many knots on our necks. Now I want one of those chairs. It was fun talking to him and learning how I can bring a little bit of Finland (and Scandinavia) into my office.
Finland until next time. I can’t wait to have some more blueberry juice, say “Hey,Hey” to you and eat some amazing innovative dishes.