Amsterdam, Helsinki and More

Amsterdam

So, my first thoughts upon (finally) getting off the plane and seeing the Amsterdam airport: Wow, this is a nice airport.

My thoughts five minutes later? This isn't an airport! It's a mall with airplanes and security screening on the side!

American airports, get it together. Not only is Schiphol way more visually attractive than any US international airport I've ever been in, it's also much, much better designed. I will grant that many international US airports are old, and I'm fairly sure Schiphol is relatively new. But still, we're slacking. C'mon now, the Netherlands have (or would that be The Netherlands has?) it together! Even their security checkpoints are better laid out, and we're supposed to be security freaks! They have 5 elevated booths with glass to the side and above, with narrow choke points between each booth that allow passengers to continue. Way easier to defend than our silly checkpoints. Sheesh.

Not much to say about the flight itself. It was like any other long flight, only longer. The fact that we traveled at an average (ground) speed of about 600 mph was pretty cool, but that's fairly standard for an airplane. Still, the idea of hurtling through the air in a pressurized metal cigar at speeds nearing that of sound is a pretty cool one.

One last thought: despite it's relative grandeur and glamor, I don't think I would've wanted to fly internationally in the jet set days. They didn't have TVs will multiple full-length movies, music albums and TV episodes mounted in the back of every chair. For example: I was able to watch a few episodes of How I Met Your Mother, How to Train Your Dragon, and about half an hour of Source Code before I got frustrated with how stupid the protagonist was and gave up.

Helsinki

I didn't get a great look at Helsinki from above, because by the time the plane began its descent, it was totally dark, and there was fog and clouds everywhere. It was also snaining (That's snow + rain for those who are unaware. It's a miserable combination because it's like rain that sticks to you). I did not envy the pilots. They brought us down just fine though, and about 30 minutes later, I was off the plane and had my bag. Didn't even have to go through customs, which was a nice surprise.

I had a chance to meet Kaisa's brother Rauno and her sister Tiina. We ended up spending about an hour at Tiina's apartment because she was celebrating her graduation from school. (Some sort of fancy vocational school. Not really clear on the details) When I walked in, I greeted her with a Hauska tavata!" ("Nice to meet you!") and she gave me the most shocked, blank look for a good three seconds. I glanced at Kaisa and asked "Did I say that wrong?" and Tiina quickly told me "No, no! I was just surprised!" So, if she's any indication, all you have to do to make a good first impression on a Finn is know a little bit of their language!

After a long series of uninteresting decisions, Kaisa, her friend Emilia and I hopped on a train. For Kaisa and I, to get to the hotel, and for Emilia to meet the rest of the gang at a restaurant. The original plan was that we would join them, but as I was sitting on the train, I realized that I was pretty much out of gas. The original plan wasn't going to fly, so we instead opted to go the hotel and call it a night. Exhausted though I was, the chance to walk through Helsinki at 6PM was actually pretty cool. A lot of cool old architecture and a lot of foot traffic.

That's all for now. Won't have much chance to update this thing for the next few days, because I'll be on an overnight cruise to Stockholm and back! I imagine that if there's any Wi-Fi available, it'll cost two arms and half a leg.

P.S. More pictures to come soon. Didn't get a chance to take any last night.