Arriving in Helsinki, Almost Perfect...
Much to my delight, when I checked in for the second leg of my journey, from NY to Helsinki, the woman behind the counter smiled and directed me to the Ambassador's Lounge to wait for my flight. They don't do that if you're flying economy, so it was a huge relief considering its a long flight.
I met up with "Team Finlandia" in the lounge bar. Then we did what travel writers, bartenders and liquor company associates do best - we ordered a few rounds. It is a fun group, and the bartenders look to be a talented lot, indeed! So far, I've met the US Finalists and one from El Salvador. I think we meet the European winners tomorrow, in Lapland. I am going to try to get some info up on each one, so you can play along, in Sipsterland, and choose your favorite.
The first thing that struck me as we approached the airstrip in Helsinki was the plane window. It was covered in frost. Yep, its gonna be a cold one, kids!
Tonight, we are in Hotel Klaus K, in Helsinki. Simple and swank. Signature minimalist Scandinavian design, incorporating natural materials and clean lines. Adorable room. By adorable I mean small, yet well-decorated. I'd love to link to it and show you, but for some reason my tool bar isn't working... (almost perfect)
Now, the bad news... my luggage is nowhere to be found. Finnair has no answers. I've been calling all day. Yes, all my warm weather purchases are in my suitcaes. It is about 12 degrees (F) here (read: freezing) and we haven't even headed north yet. Then, when we got to the hotel, half of our rooms weren't ready.
So, a little group of us walked just a few blocks from the hotel, to get coffees (awesome lattes!) and sandwiches (amazing sunflower seed bread stuffed with meat and cheese). With my hat, gloves, long johns or $25 dollar socks locked safely within my missing suitcase, I shivered til I went numb. Upon return to the hotel, Carol, who represents Finlandia vodka, took pity on me and lent me a pair of long johns and socks. God bless her!
Cocktails in the hotel bar can heal everything, though. That's the El Salvadorian bartender up on the bar (left) doing bar tricks and already flirting with every lady in the room. I'm thinking this is gonna be one hell of a cocktail competition!