Of all the travel advice I’ve been given, the best thing I’ve been told is to be strategic about layovers. For years and years I avoided them (I mean, airlines give you that “direct flights only” box for a reason right?); however, being open to layovers and extending them to allow enough time to actually experience a new city is brilliant. In fact, that’s how I ended up in Helsinki. If you fly with Finnish Air, they give you the option to extend your layover for up to 5 days. The best part is – it’s totally free.
I made the most intense itinerary for my Helsinki layover; sadly, I had to cut out a lot of it due to my flight out of JFK being delayed twice. When I finally arrived, it was super easy to navigate from the terminal to the metro (everything is in one building). The metro takes approx. 28 minutes from the airport to the Senate Square downtown. Conveniently, the square is home to pretty much everything you need to see – art galleries, museums, cathedrals, theatres, and countless restaurants and cafes. If you know me well, you know I was there for the art. When I booked my flight, I immediately looked up all the exhibitions taking place for the duration of my stay. There were three that really enticed me:
- School of Disobedience by Jani Leinonen – on display at Kiasma. In this exhibition, Leinonen challenges us to question the social constructs and biases surrounding issues of poverty, race, religion, etc. that are present in our everyday lives. He is clever in his approach – he uses images similar to the logos of fast food corporations and luxury brands to emphasize how extreme we have become in our overconsumption of things that aren’t necessarily healthy for us and our dependency on material objects.
- Henri Cartier-Bresson – on display at Ateneum. Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) is considered the father of photo-reportage. The collection features just under 300 photographs from his travels and they are sorted into the following categories: America, Bali, China and Japan, Europe, India, Mexico, USSR, and Portraits. Included in his collection from India are photographs of Gandhi taken just a few hours before his death.
- Demonstrating Minds by Kiasma – on display at Kiasma. Kiasma explores the dynamic between art and society by showcasing 19 contemporary artists from around the world. These artists draw attention to forms of economic injustice (labour, distribution of power, etc.) and the aftermath of those injustices – riots, protests, and demonstrations.
If you do plan on taking a trip to Helsinki, it’s probably a good idea to avoid going in the winter. Even though the temperature was roughly the same as Toronto’s (and there was virtually no windchill), the Helsinki cold is on a different level. Until next time a.k.a. summertime, Helsinki!
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Unless you are going to the Nordic countries for winter activities such as skiing, the summer is so much nicer when you want to see the towns and cities. Most of the Finland, Sweden or Norway is asleep during most of the winter. 🙂
I will definitely be back in the summer! And yes, there definitely didn’t seem to be many other tourists out and about haha 🙂
I like your theme, neat.