Europe · 11 Days · 18 Moments · August 2017

Helsinki Worldcon 2017

18 August 2017

For our last day in Helsinki, we left our luggage with the hotel and cycled 6km out to the island of Seurasaari where there is an Open-Air Museum of traditional wooden Finnish architecture and way of life. It reminded me a lot of Kiji in Russia. Because we didn't have long we didn't buy a ticket to see the building interiors, but instead wandered the island looking at the buildings from the outside, which is completely free. It's definitely a place is like to go back when we have more time! After cycling back to the hotel we're jumping in a taxi - next stop is the airport!

17 August 2017

We had a chill end to the day - after the tank museum we walked to a nearby lake, and sat on a very rickety bench on an alarmingly wobbly wooden platform at the end of a small promontory in the rain admiring the view, watching the birds (several gulls engaged in a bit of aerial combat over a fish), and having a snooze. Then we walked back to the station, hopped on a train to Helsinki, and grabbed a city bike to get to the all-you-can-eat sushi we found earlier in the holiday. Om nom! On the way we passed several tanks we had seen leaving the museum on low-loaders, in the center of Helsinki for some sort of military event. What a coincidence! After dinner, James stuck his head briefly into a fan meeting in a pub, while I headed back to the hotel, and we're both getting an early night. All very middle-aged! ;)
Since we started looking for things to do in Finland, James has been excited by the Tank museum at Parola, so that's where we headed on Thursday. Parola is kind of the middle of nowhere, and the museum was a 20 min walk from the station. James found tanks, and I found wildflowers, along the way. There was a large assortment of tanks, good info about each in English, and an unsettling number of swastikas given events of the previous few days in America. James was particularly keen to see the armored train, which of course was closed off for construction work when we arrived, but we asked and a nice man called Simo escorted us up to look around. Very kind of him!

16 August 2017

We then wandered the town a little more, found some "interesting" graffiti, had a snooze in a park, then had dinner at Old Hansa, highly recommended by my friends who know Tallinn well. We had the "Feast" meal, which is basically a taste of almost everything on the menu, eat as much as you like. It's fair to say it was fabulous (including the rose pudding, of which James was highly suspicious), and we both ate way too much! After dinner we made our way gently back to the boat, for our late night ferry back to Helsinki....
On our way back into the old town we stumbled across the flower festival, with lots of interesting mini gardens on different themes. Some of them were great, while others were very odd..... ;)
Then we visited a former church, and made our way out of the old town, enjoyed the view down towards the more modern areas, walked around a pond which is part of the old moat, and visited the railway station, where we found a very nice indoor market for a spot of lunch.
Wednesday we spent in Tallinn, starting off wandering the old town, which is very pretty. We went up onto the walls, admired the medieval architecture, and looked around the market in the central square.
Sunrise over the Baltic. Off to Tallinn for the day!

15 August 2017

Have had a pretty fab day on Tuesday. Started out kayaking around some of the quieter Helsinki islands. Then figured out how the city bikes worked and cycled out to the sompasauna. Accidentally went into the hottest one first (~95C). Sat on the top shelf while James sat on the bottom. He soon had enough & left. After a while was joined by a Finnish chap who threw water on the fire several times, in an apparent attempt to kill us both. He then left. Stayed a while longer. Threw one final load of water on the fire. Then jumped in the Baltic! Wonderfully refreshing at first. Turned out to be bloody freezing after a while! May have stayed I too long. Ended up remarkably cold, and weirdly faint! I'm a sauna & plunge pool fan, and that's a first for me... Then cycled back to the centre of town (~11km total cycling). Had reindeer burger for dinner (counting all reindeer as game!). Then a quick visit to the moomin shop (where James found stamps), now on a pub tram!

14 August 2017

Monday was our first proper holiday day, and we started off with a walk along the water front, found a lovely little market, admired lots of boats, and found a nice little island park to sit on for a while. James then had a Dublin committee lunch while I chilled out in a park. We finished the day with dinner at a rather posh restaurant not far from our hotel. Lovely!

13 August 2017

Sunday, I had a lie in (7hrs sleep, rather than 4hrs most nights!) then moved our gear from the Holiday in at the Messukeskus convention centre to Hotel Haven in Central Helsinki, near the docs. Very lovely the new hotel was, too! James, meanwhile, carried on scoffing - then we found all-you-can-eat sushi, before heading to the Dead Dog and Old Farts parties....

12 August 2017

Saturday night, Dublin celebrated their success with a very popular party!
Saturday morning, with Site Selection complete, Dublin was declared winner of the bid for the 2019 Worldcon. Not sure I've ever seen James as happy as when he got to join the official Worldcon Chairs photo...

11 August 2017

Friday night was Hugos night. James didn't win, but there was a free bar at the after party at Helsinki's Steam bar, where I found the smallest bottles of Newcastle Brown ever. We also discovered a gin, lime juice and basil muddle which was possibly the nicest drink ever. If I can stop the slugs eating all my basil I shall make it at home! Friday night was also site selection vote counting night.....

9 August 2017

Wednesday, Worldcon 75 kicked off. Lots of time and effort were put in to promoting the Dublin 2019 Worldcon bid....

8 August 2017

Tuesday night was Karaoke night! Cheep booze and terrible singing in the centre of town. Much fun was had.

7 August 2017

After long queues at T3 because the baggage belts were down (in which we met many fans!) we eventually made it to Helsinki. Had dinner with Vince & Vanessa in the hotel at the Messukeskus. Spent our first evening wandering the city, had very expensive beer, found xylophone buskers, and a "sky dining" experience.
Slight chaos at Heathrow T3 this morning as all the baggage conveyers were down across the terminal! I'm traveling hand luggage only, but James has 4 huge bags of Irish food (hastily bought from the aworld Good isle of Asda this morning) for Dublin parties to check in! We ran into numerous fans in the queue, made it to the lounge with plenty of time for breakfast, and boarded the full flight almost - but not quite - last. Take off only 15 mins late....