Yesterday I was looking at an old notebook and it reminded me of my last visit to Helsinki, more than a year ago.
The first time we went to Finland, it was to see the reformed Hanoi Rocks play at the Tavastia in Helsinki. As it was the middle of winter we chose our hotel, the Radisson Blu Royal, based on its location, as close as possible to the venue. This was the first of many visits to Finland which started with a love of music, but became more about meeting up with the friends we had made. Whenever possible we returned to the same hotel where even the staff had become our friends. The summer terrace of the hotel was the scene for many meet-ups in the warmer months, the gathering point before we headed off to gigs or bars for the evening.
All of our friends in Finland are either musicians or music lovers, so it’s not surprising that many of our visits are timed to see our friends perform, from Ember’s Flame playing on the fringe of AnkkaRock, to Naked at Nosturi, it is always a special pleasure.
The last visit to Helsinki was to see the Holy Ones play Semi Final, but as this was a last minute booking we ended up staying at the Torni Hotel (very friendly and beautiful, but doesn’t feel like our own Royal hotel). However it did have something special of its own.
A guestbook with entries from Finland, Sweden, Milwaukee USA, England, Scotland, Singapore, France, Spain, Russia and Taiwan. All these people had stayed in this room and left messages, drawings and even a wedding photo.
One entry stood out for me, written in English and Chinese (so I could only read half of it), the love story of Bunny and Pony. The first entry was for 2015 and in 2016 another entry celebrated their first anniversary. And then nothing; when I read the book in 2019 I wondered what had happened to them, hopefully a guest book in another room continues the story.
The magic of slow travel is that it allows time to build friendships with people and places, and I feel as if the romantic Bunny and Pony are friends I have yet to meet.