Sunday, August 21, 2011

Helsinki, August 21 - Arrival, bus/boat tours

Lauren and I were thrilled to join the KWEST Baltics trip this year.  KWEST is a Kellogg business school program where students entering the first year of their MBAs split into groups of 25, and bond over exotic vistas and new foods during a week abroad.  Along the way, there's usually some service component, lots of sightseeing, and lots of partying.  A good time all around.

We'll be posting our notes from the trip over the next few days.  Pictures from the whole trip are already posted.

We flew direct from Chicago to Stockholm, then had a 2-hour layover in Stockholm where one of our new trip buddies immediately fell in love with every Swedish woman.  A short flight to Helsinki, and our trip was begun in earnest.  The pine trees outside the airport were a great first sight.

Many unfortunate souls (like me) hadn't slept during the overnight plane flight, and so energy was a bit low as we checked into the Hotel Arthur...

In a noble attempt to combat jetlag, the trip leaders had planned an immediate bus tour for our first day in Helsinki.  We alternated between dozing and sightseeing, but enjoyed cool stops at a church built into solid rock...

...and at the Sibelius monument, honoring Jean Sibelius, a composer whose work is central to the Finnish national identity.

After the bus tour, we had a bit of time before our next activity (boat tour), during which we wandered through the breathtaking senate square before meeting up with the group back at the mermaid statue.

I'll be honest: I slept through most of the boat tour.  I must have snapped a few photos while sleeping, though?

We finally lurched our way to a hearty dinner of meatballs and hash at a restaurant called Zetor, and then it was time for a long, hard sleep.

I had just enough awareness of my surroundings during this groggy day to reach one firm conclusion: I'd move to Helsinki in a heartbeat!