Helsinki is externally a drab town, in my estimation. But I think that's because it enjoys such cold weather most of the year. The outsides tend to be simple concrete but time and detail is given to the insides of the buildings. My hotel room has 4 pane windows which gives you some idea of how the weather must be the rest of the year.

The temperature is just right by my measure -- 60's with overcast -- but it's a little humid which makes it seem warm. That, matched with the fact that the hotel room does not have air conditioning and the bedding is designed for frigid weather, makes it seem warm and unconfortable for this west coaster.

The people of Helsinki are very friendly but reserved. I first noticed the latter when I entered the airport from the plane -- despite there being many people, the airport seemed hushed. If you ask a question, they will help you with a smile but they don't meet your eye on the street and they don't greet strangers walking by with a smile. These must be relatives to the reserved Norwegians Garrison Keeler is always talking about.

The northern Europeans know how to do bathrooms and bathroom fixtures. The hotel room is small by American standards, but the bathroom and fixtures are well ahead of even some of the upscale hotels I've been in. Marble and functional fixtures.