flickr photo by Jori Samonen https://flickr.com/photos/rowanhill/26716576184 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

We have decided to take a quick preview trip to see Finland in the darkest time of year. I found some really cheap tickets on Icelandair (did I tell you they were cheap?) in December. We’ll be flying out of Boston with one stop in Reykjavik for less than the price of a trip to California. It’s a red-eye but the layover is only an hour. I am so excited!

At this point I should  tell you that my son is living in Helsinki so I have another incentive to go. He is there because his girlfriend is attending Aalto University for a master’s degree in entrepreneurship. The program is in English and the tuition is free. This is probably a topic for a whole separate post– and I’m in danger of digressing– but it is an example of one of the cool possibilities that living in Finland offers. We will be visiting them while we check out what life is like so far north just around the time of the winter solstice.

Unfortunately I don’t have unlimited vacation time at my job so I will have to turn this into an express trip; we will be gone only 10 days. In that time I hope to get a look at some of the communities we have thought of living in like Hyvinkää, Vaasa and Seinäjoki. It’s a very short time but hopefully I’ll get a chance to see a tiny bit of what it might be like to live in these places in the winter, to see how people spend their time when it’s cold and dark outside most of the day.

I probably won’t get more than a quick impression of each of these cities, but what I hope to do is get a feel for each one. Every city in the world has its own vibe and that’s what I’ll be looking for here. I’ll be doing plenty of people-watching, looking to see how they get around in the city, how they shop, what’s available in the stores, what the housing stock looks like and how convenient public transportation is. You can be sure I’ll be posting photos of what I find.

I’m also looking for suggestions. What do you think I should be looking for? Are there any great cities that I should be considering that I haven’t listed here? Write comments. Please.