Mark and I arrived in Helsinki yesterday afternoon and as I never sleep on planes I was beat by the time we got to our hostel. Having me lead the way there in the most inconvenient circuitous route didn’t help us. We were never lost, but went about 270 degrees in a circle to get there when we could have cut the walk in half. We are in a hostel that is like an apartment residence so we have a kitchen, yet hardly anything that goes along with it. Thankfully I brought two bowls from home and we each brought a set of cutlery. The coffee addict that I am is happy there are mugs here, yet the lack of a kettle means I must stick my mug of water in the microwave for two minutes to get my coffee piping hot.
Oodi. Yes, the new Helsinki Central Library is, in many words, beautiful, open-concept, welcoming, quiet (anathema to most public libraries these days) and white and woody. I talked to some staff who told me that when Oodi opened, the small city library, which used to be housed in Lasipalatsi then moved to the Posti, was closed. I figured as such. Why keep a tiny branch open in the downtown core when Oodi is now next door? Fifty new personnel were hired to staff the library. It had short white book stacks, with lots of room at the end of each row. Where were all the books? It was open until 10 p.m. and we went to the top terrace and had a late dinner that we had brought with us. There is a cafe where you can purchase some food but no one came to tell us that only food bought on the premises could be eaten there. The pictures are from the outdoor deck, and Mark is next to the Eduskunta, the parliament building. The YLE network is filming live TV shows at the entrance to the library all week and when we left the library at 9:05 p.m. a panel show was already under way.
I entitled this travelogue “Woe is me” because I always seem to have trouble with my laptop when I am just embarking on a trip to Finland. Mark was using the laptop last night and all of a sudden he lost his connection. Now Mark isn’t a computer techy either so we were both at a loss how to fix it. We need this computer to plan our transportation routes to see our friends in Espoo. Since the wireless connection in residences like this is often poor, I took it out into the hall where there is a table and chair yet still no luck. We had no connection at all. It wasn’t just the hostel’s wireless connection; we couldn’t connect to anything. I felt that my laptop was fried again. How? I do not know. I was so tired last night–even nodding off during a game of Scrabble with Mark–but in spite of feeling so wasted I could not rest. I can’t sleep when I have these computer woes. Were we going to be at a cyber loss during this whole trip?
Everyone will attest that I am not computer techy. I freak out and lose sleep over little things. But on the walk back to the hostel late this afternoon I was bothered by the message the laptop kept on giving me: that no Internet connections could be found. None at all, not just the hostel’s. Why weren’t we picking up neighbouring guests’ signals? I ended up figuring out how to activate the wireless on the laptop. Turns out Mark had inadvertently turned it off while typing the @ key, which lies directly under the wireless activation key. This is a major cyber victory for me as there was no guide on the laptop for troubleshooting. If I can figure out how to “fix” my computer, that is call for celebration.
You did not want to tune into my vacation blog to read about my computer woes, but this is a part of me. I unfortunately obsess over these things and I cannot sleep, even when I am dead to the world. So now that my mind has been eased and I am once more a happy person, I will write more about the sunny capital of Helsinki.
…Like right now. Mark and I just got back from attending a free two-hour concert by the Hong Kong Children’s Symphony Orchestra at Finlandia Hall. This orchestra is made up of prodigies between the ages of seven and eighteen. Their closing number: Finlandia by Sibelius. I have never heard Finlandia live in concert, and to hear it performed at Finlandia Hall was quite emotional for me. I choked up when I recognized the opening chords and even shed a few tears during the performance. I was still heavy in the throat as I was discussing the concert with Mark as we left the building.
View of the Eduskunta from the outside terrace at Oodi
View of the Eduskunta and Mark from the outside terrace at Oodi
Oodi at street level