My meetings are done so I spent today on a walking tour of the town of Helsinki. The Tourist Bureau has a brochure of paths around the city and descriptions of what you'll see along the way. Being and engineer, I, of course, came up with a better route that combined two of their paths. :-)
Most of the streets and sidewalks are made from granite cobblestones. This is none of that bricks on sand stuff they do in the States. There must be granite under the granite because the cobbles stand up to trucks, busses and cars on the busyist streets. Granite is everywhere here. It sticks up out of the ground between building. It is used for street curbs, building fronts and garden accents.
Everyone has a cell phone. Walking down the street you bump into business men, housewives, kids all answering, talking, texting or playing on their cell phones.
This is a very civilized and safe city. Women are walking home late at night and the city bus drivers carry money and make change. There are bad guys somewhere (people live here, after all) but much of the protections from criminal activity that I see in the States, isn't done here.
My walk took me through the embassy district (on a hill overlooking the bay). The American Embassy is a compound even here in far off Helsinki. Cut granite blocks toped with tastefully green painted iron fence does not take one's eye off the large security center or the local plice van parked outside. The French, British, Estonian, etc embassies are not similarily protected.
The sidewalks are wide throughout the city with a line down the middle making a lane for walkers and a lane for bicycles.
Well, time to start packing -- I'm off to the airport early in the morning.