We arrived in Helsinki on the first afternoon of WorldCon, but we thought it wasn't starting until the next day. Not that it matters, but oops. We got a cab to our hotel which was located in a pretty great location! We were about a 8 minute walk to the main train station and then a 10 minute ride to Messukeskus, the convention center, from there. We were very close to a few good places to eat and drink, close-enough to many more, and far enough from the convention center to feel like we got a bit of a taste of Helsinki-for-Helsinkians. Helsinkiites? Helsinkers? Locals.
|We had a little bay window in our room, this is the left side view.|
|We had some trouble finding a restaurant that was open for a late-ish dinner near the convention center, but we did find this spot for our first Helsinki meal with some of the Angry Robot crew plus.|
Neither of us were taking full advantage or our Con tickets, but we each did attend some panels, Eric to support his friends and as a moderator! We did take full advantage of the in-person access to a few Angry Robot people, Eric's agent, Jennie Goloboy, other authors and such folk! I learned this part of it is called BarCon and it is hanging out at a Convention-adjacent bar and chatting and meeting the folks passing through during their daily coming and going.
|There were not a lot of hotels near Messukeskus, just the adjacent Holiday Inn. Its bar was... what you'd expect: overpriced and under cool. Still we had our first adult beverages of the trip! GnT for T, beer for E.|
|I did take this panorama shot from the patio at BarCon, though. I think it'll get bigger if you click on it.|
|This was a panel on fan crafting that was fun and interesting.|
This also meant lunches & dinners out and drinks after - sometimes into the wee hours. Our Helsinki dining experiences weren't outstanding, but we did have some delicious adult beverages. Helsinki is one of the most expensive cities in the European Union and had we not been to Iceland first we would've been as shocked as everyone else.
|At a Nepalese restaurant that served exactly what you would find at an Indian buffet in the US. Exactly where were we being tricked!?|
|This was a pirate themed bar that was actually super cool! And super small, with just over a dozen seats. Very delicious drinks -some of them flaming, sand on the floor, costumed bar tender, the works.|
|Eric's author friend, fellow Red Sofa-er & Angry Robot, Carrie, and her husband arrived to Helsinki a little before the Con and scouted some cool bars!|
|I have begun the search for Finnish cranberries which are called lingonberries here. So far, only online, frozen, and spendy.|
Again, we were very ill-prepared to speak any Finnish. And again we felt like jerks, but again it seems Finns don't expect visitors to speak Finnish and we were told that they expect foreign visitors to speak English with them. That said, plenty of the Con panels were held in Finnish (and clearly labeled as such) and the only bookseller in the marketplace was Finnish with mostly Finnish-language books. Represent!
|Eric at his signing on Sunday. I took this at the beginning of the hour and wish I'd taken it later, because the author just out of frame on the right was Peadar Ó Guilín who wrote the YA novel "The Call." Not only was Peadar ("rhymes with 'blather'") friendly and fun to talk to, he and Eric traded books!|
|With a Sunday afternoon time, Eric wasn't expecting much of a turn out for the panel he moderated, but it was actually packed!|
|We sat way to the right and midway back, so this photo doesn't show nearly how big the room was. Penny, Nick, and I were lucky to get 3 seats together, actually. NICE!|
|We showed up late to the Clipping concert. This was not at all what I expected and it was cool and fun!|
It was really great for me to finally meet several of Eric's book-world peeps! Some who even he hadn't met in person before! And I'm not just saying this, because Angry Robot Nick gave me some super special toothpaste out of his very own kit!
Our original plan was to leave Helsinki the day after WorldCon ended and find a spot close to some nature in Finland. Which is a lot of Finland. But so many people raved about and encouraged us to hop a ferry over to Tallinn, Estonia that we did that instead! The old city has all that Old Europe business that's so cool AND it was quite a bit cheaper, so done deal.
NOTE: While the weather was a comfortable for traveling high 60s/low 70s during the day, it does seem like what is considered a comfortable indoor temperature by Finns is perhaps deeply influenced by their beloved sauna culture: hot as balls. Sweaty, sweaty, hot, sweaty balls.