Today was a long day. We were up by 6:15 to leave the apartment by 7:00. Saying goodbye to Riina was hard but we had a wonderful week with her and made many good memories. We drove to the Oulu airport and returned the rental car. Karl stopped for a coffee and roll once inside the airport. We then had about an hour to wait for our plane after clearing security. You don't have to take off your shoes in Europe, but everything else seems about the same.
Our flight to Helsinki on Finnair was fine. Forty five minutes flying time. We had about four hours to kill in Helsinki before our flight to Stockholm so we wandered around. I found the Helsinki Airport Book Swap! This awesome place is where you can take a book if you need something to read or leave a book if you have one to get rid of. I was bummed because I finished my book on day 3 of the trip and would have loved to have left it, but I'd left it at the apartment in Stockholm. I saw books in Finnish, Swedish, English, Chinese, and German.
We stopped at a cafe and bought an early lunch. I had a tomato mozzarella panini. We took advantage of the free WiFi. At boarding time we went to our gate and boarded a bus to take us out onto the tarmac. There seem to be too few gates so we had to board using steps sine distance away from the terminal. The flight from Helsinki to Stockholm was also about 45 minutes flying time. We landed a few minutes early. Sweden is an hour behind Finland so we gained an hour.
Before I start talking about Stockholm here are some final thoughts on Finland:
The country of Finland has a population of 5.4 million, about 3 million less than that of New York City!
Most everyone my age or younger speaks some English. In general the young people speak better English than those my age.
I have nothing but good things to say about the Finnish people. Generous, helpful, polite, friendly.
There were some beggars in Helsinki around the train station but far fewer than in Stockholm. They appear to be Roma (what we used to call gypsies).
Finland is very clean and the roads seem to be in good repair.
Wood. There's lots of wood. Cabinetry, doors and floors in our hotel rooms and wall panels in the Helsinki Airport were a nice, stained wood. Not surprising in a country where the majority of the land area is forested.
In Helsinki, especially, I sometimes felt a Soviet or Easten influence to the architecture. Lars told me that during the Cold War, movie filming portraying the Soviet Union often took place in Helsinki for the reason that the Soviet Union wouldn't allow the filming.
So we arrived back in Stockholm around 2 p.m.and took the bus back to central Stockholm. We then walked to a main square to pick up our Stockholm Cards. We paid about $135 each for these cards and they will allow us 5 days of unlimited public transportation and entry into most of Stockholm's main tourist attractions. We then walked into the main subway station in downtown Stockholm, T-Centralen, which was adjacent to the place we picked up the cards. The apartment we're staying at is near the Telefonplan subway stop, a journey of 8 stops and 15 minutes.
The apartment we're staying in was built in 1939 as housing for the employees of the Swedish electronics company, Ericsson. The old factory and offices are located across the street from the subway station. Ericsson moved out about 10 years ago and the complex is now occupied by an arts and design university. The apartment itself is cute. There's a little foyer upon entering, a small bedroom to the right, a nice living room straight ahead, and a kitchen, dining area, and bathroom to the left. It's probably small by today's standards, but in 1939 was almost luxurious because of the indoor plumbing and bathroom! I haven't timed it, but it'd guess it's less than a 7 minute walk to the subway. We pass a bank, grocery, pharmacy, public library, and a restaurant on the way. The neighborhood is very quiet and probably on its way to becoming trendy.
We dropped our luggage off at the apartment then headed to the neighborhood of Mälerhöjden, where Karl lived as a 10 year old boy when his dad was on sabbatical in the early 1970s. He was able to locate the house he lived in and the school he attended. We then returned to central Stockholm for dinner.
Karl and I were pretty hungry by this time so we stopped at a steak and barbecue restaurant. I had chicken and Karl had fish. Large American style meal--salad, cole slaw, ear of corn, breadstick, baked potato. We got back to the apartment around 9 p.m.
It wasn't a very photographic day, but here are the pics.