Express post

Travel day! Oh, you love these ones! So, where were we? Five o'clock wake up and check out from the jail cell in Stockholm. Down to central station and then up on the express train to the airport. With self check-in, the bag drop was easy and an empty security line lead to a personal best thirty seconds from conveyor belt to duty free. A short flight later, and we were in Helsinki.

Strange fact: it was our first time zone change in weeks. Everywhere had been exactly the same time previously, and indeed when we go back to Oslo we'll rewind to that time again. For these next four days, though, we'll be just six and a half hours behind. Make the most of it! We used Airbnb again this time, and found a nice flat just outside the city centre that is managed by an Aussie. He's been living over here for a year and is staying with his girlfriend, so he rents out the place to travellers. It's roughly nineteen times bigger than our last room and is thus incredible luxury. I don't have to balance the keyboard on my leg!

Plus, with washing just one euro a pop, a fully equipped kitchen and large bathroom, and a table - a table, a real working table! - I feel rather spoilt. The only disadvantages: no Wi-Fi (there's a USB dongle for laptops, but it doesn't work with our iPads and iPhones), and no TV. it has been nice to be able to have an eye on the Olympics and news. Now I feel vaguely in the dark again. Thus, it explains why this blog post went up late and doesn't discuss Curiosity's amazing discovery of life on Mars. (Fingers crossed.)

This afternoon, I wandered out to get a feel for Helsinki. We're on the island immediately north of the centre, so it's only fifteen minutes walk from the heart of town, and shorter still by tram or metro. I did a lap through the middle, picking up a bite to eat, and then looping down along the harbour and back around again. It has that lovely Scandinavian feel to it but it feels like the city is made up of more historic buildings than Stockholm. Stockholm almost hid the city around the edges of your vision, with wide streets, large parks and tall trees. Helsinki is more classic European, with tighter alleys and tall, dominant cathedrals visible from most angles in the city.

It's cooled a little as we've headed north - though this is about as far up as we'll get - though today was beautifully clear. We shall see how the nights are, as those empty skies can often result in frigid evenings. Not that I'm complaining. I prefer to be cold overnight than hot. Should I scrap this paragraph? It's not looking worthwhile. We're heading into hour sixteen of today, and I might be fading. End on one of those great, deep statements you're so good at. Tie up the theme with a wry smile and self-deprecating jab. Um. How about, 'At the end of the day, Helsinki is still more a name than a place to me, though in the morning I expect I'll start WARMING to it.'? Because of the temperature? No? Shit.