He was reminded of the first time he noticed girls. He was seven years old, living with his family in Helsinki. They had gone for a summer morning’s walk in their neighborhood in Kaivopuisto, a tree-lined rolling hillside home to ornate buildings, many of which were embassies. They had come upon a garden promenade overlooking the sea, and while his parents stood in line for lemonade, Justin had stared at a little girl with blue eyes of ice and hair the color of that morning’s brilliant sun. He remembered being transfixed for a moment before his parents scooped him away.
When I wrote that bit, I had been thinking back to the trips I had taken there while I had the great fortune of living in Finland. It was so quiet, so bright, so peaceful. I still remember one day in particular: my girlfriend (now my wife, thank God) and I stumbled upon this beautiful parkland on the western edge of the city, land which lay next to the water as naturally as bacon and eggs. We spent a few hours walking along a wide promenade, passing by picnics, classic architecture and towering cruise ship docks. [Incidentally, today is the first of May, called Vappu in Finnish. If you go there now you'll find teeming crowds of Finns, enjoying the burgeoning Spring, catching the Sun while it is still around ...read more here.] It was heavenly. I want to go back. Until then, I posted some pictures below. I'll try to add more, because three pictures don't do the city justice.