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Conf. in Finland next week -- stay or flee to warmer climes?

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Mar 17th, 2010, 07:22 AM
  #1
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Conf. in Finland next week -- stay or flee to warmer climes?

It's been years since I last posted, but thank goodness I remembered Fodors!

My husband is going to Tampere, Finland next week (March 24/25) for business and I'm coming along. We'll have a few extra days (Friday - Wednesday, ish) to spend in Europe.

We're excited to experience the beauty and history of the north, but this is our first visit to Scandinavia and I'd hate to waste it huddling indoors. Also, I'm a planner. I'm befuddled by the lack of time I have to put everything together. Scandinavia seems to shut down in winter/spring, which makes it harder to know what sights will be open and what transportation will be running.

So, I need your advice:

Will Scandinavia be enjoyable this time of year, or should we flee somewhere warmer, or at least to a city big enough to not shut down in winter? I'm thinking a place I've been before but haven't adequately explored, like Paris or London. Somewhere not too challenging that I can just grab a hotel room and relax knowing there will be more than enough things to keep us happily engaged for a few days, but that also won't cost an arm and a leg to get to from Helsinki (or home to Washington DC).

Or...does Stockholm qualify? Or should we save Stockholm for better weather?

Are Paris and London also dreary in March? Any better suggestions?

(Travel background: active, non-drinking couple in young thirties with no kids. Previous trips include N. Ireland & Dublin, Scotland, Belgium & the Netherlands, and S. France. Loved the friendliness, accessibility, and small-town feel of Belgium in late summer.)

Many thanks,

Faile
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Mar 17th, 2010, 08:00 AM
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Looking ahead to the weather forecast for Helsinki it looks to be in the 30s and possible snow. As much as I love Finland if you don't like it cool then head south - Rome.

One year we were in Finland, Sweden and Norway in September, the weather was beautiful. We arrived in Paris only to have to get out the gloves and hats etc - very cold and windy.
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Mar 17th, 2010, 08:12 AM
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Ah, Rome!

Rome would be fabulous, I think, but perhaps expensive to get/return from? Checking now...

I don't mind hats and gloves, so long as I get to experience a region to some relative fullness. What could one do in Scandinavia this time of year?

-Faile
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Mar 18th, 2010, 11:00 AM
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It has been a harsh winter in Tampere according to my colleagues. I think there is still a lot of snow on the ground.

I have visited Helsinki in November in the snow and temps 30+F. I could still see the main sights (churches, museums, streetcars, neighborhoods), but it was not the time to see the outdoor museum, the fort on the island in the harbor, or stroll through the park, so I couldn't see staying there 5 days. Just 1 plus day trip to Tallinn (indoor on ferry anyway). May be too late to get visa and plan a trip to St Petersburg? Never been, so can't advise.

If you are interested in the north you could check into the packages to take you up dog sledding, skiing, etc. Not sure if you would be lucky enough to catch the Northern Lights.

I haven't been to Stockholm in the winter, but enjoyed it in the summer for a few days. I can see wandering the old town, visiting museums, etc. there for a few days. Just not the outdoor museum or the canals.

Personal opinion is that I wouldn't go back to places I've already been, but choose something that fits with your overall flight plans and relatively close to Finland so you don't spend all your European time traveling here to there and back. Not sure what price/connections you can get to places like Berlin. We had a fun December trip by train through the former East Germany visiting museums and historic sites of interest to us with no crowds, but we did have to wear our warm and weatherproof clothes.
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Mar 19th, 2010, 04:52 AM
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What gives you the idea that places are closed or transportation does not run? Everything runs, we don´t have "snow days". A country cannot close up just because there is snow. And now there is a record amount of it. A couple of weeks ago ferries were late because of ice but now the routes have been cleared by ice breakers.

Take a train Tampere-Helsinki, and visit the capital. Then you could take a ferry to Tallinn, Estonia, a nice medieval town. And people don´t huddle indoors, they put some clothes on and go skiing/skating/ice fishing/walking/shopping/movies/theatre/museum/art exhibition/visiting/restaurants/pubs/cafes/gyms/dancing...
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Mar 19th, 2010, 05:39 AM
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Hi; You could fly non-stop, Helsinki [two days] to Riga [bus to Tallinn, two days] and non-stop back to Helinski. Very quick flights and not expensive. You could check flights on www.kayak.com Good downloads of information for Riga and Tallinn on www.inyourpocket.com
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Mar 19th, 2010, 05:44 AM
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Furthur afield; Non-stop to the following cities. Rome, Barcelonia, Nice, Madrid and Lisbon. Flights more expensive. We have been in Lisbon, Barcelonia and Madrid in late February. The weather was in the 60's. Richard www.kayak.com/
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Mar 19th, 2010, 07:14 AM
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According to my collegues in Helsinki, it's currently above freezing during the day with a mix of clouds and sun, and with mild frost during the night. So definetely not that type of weather that keeps you "huddling indoors" all day. Since you are in Finland, you could use that chance to explore Finland.

If that's not your cup of tea, check ryanair.com for availability and prices to fly from Tampere to Milan-Bergamo. And enjoy Lombardy or Tuscany.
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Mar 19th, 2010, 12:22 PM
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faile626 This time of year my relatives in Finland are all cross country skiing. Every year they complain about the lack of sunshine and how depressing it is. But they live further north than Helsinki. Now the sun is coming back. Actually you will find much to do in Helsinki. The ferry tos Tallinn for a day trip was fun. You get off the ferry and it is a short walk to the old town.
Be sure to stop and have a Hesberger in Helsinki!! The answer to McDonalds.

I don't find Rome so expensive - you can find b&bs or hotels to fit the budget. Check out the available flights. Did you fly to Helsinki with SAS? If so, you may get a good rate with them to Rome.
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Mar 20th, 2010, 09:25 AM
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>>>Every year they complain about the lack of sunshine and how depressing it is.<<<

Sure, everyone does that in November and December. BUT the spring equinox is day after tomorrow (if I remember right), and that is the day when day and night are equally long all over the world (Finland included). After that daylight hours increase and increase till there is no night at all in the north. That sort of compensates November-January. And lots of white sparkling stuff is really beautiful when sun shines.
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Mar 20th, 2010, 12:28 PM
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Sauna
cross country ski
Helsinki

Why go anywhere else?
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