Last Day

Our last full day in Finland had us headed back to Helsinki, with one urgent task. We hated to leave the archipelago on such a beautiful day, but we had to get covid tests prior to returning to the US.

We had paid a Finnish company, 9Lives (, in advance for tests in Finland. It was 214 euros. It was rapid testing, so we should have our test results prior to departure. Because it was Midsummer weekend, some of the test sites were closed, but we found one close to the Helsinki airport that was open on Sunday.

A road sign showing just how close Finland is to Russia.

We left the archipelago around 1130, headed to the testing site. Upon arrival at 2 pm, we were the only car in line. It was quite efficient. We gave our names and ID and that was all. The woman said we should have results in 12 hours. It was cutting it a bit close, but we had no choice. There is a very small window of opportunity for the required tests. You must have your results to check in and check bags and get a boarding pass, but the results can’t be more than 48 hours old. Many sites were closed on Saturday, Midsummer Day.

With the tests complete and waiting for results, we drove to Hvitträsk to see the home and studio of Eliel Saarinen, one of the most famous Finnish architects, if not the most famous.

Three young Finnish architects purchased the property in 1901, drew up plans, and built the home and studio in 1902 and 1903. The house is on 16 hectares by lake Vittrask, and used wooden logs and granite for construction material.

The view from the property.

In 1923, Saarinen moved to the US with his family, settling in Michigan. In 1949, they sold the house. Since 1981 Hvitträsk has been owned by the Finnish State, and in 2000 it became part of the National Board of Antiquities.

Eliel Saarinen’s Hvitträsk living room.
Living room stove.
Fireplace detail.
Hvitträsk dining room.
Ceiling detail.

In designing the house, Saarinen made it a “complete work of art” by also designing the furniture, rugs and fireplace tiles.

The master bedroom stove.
Tile and stove door detail.
Stove door detail.
Children’s room stove.
Children’s room stove detail.
Saarinen’s desk.
A door detail.

Here is a list of just some of the buildings Eliel Saarinen designed:

  • The Swedish Theatre in Helsinki
  • Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo, New York
  • Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, Iowa
  • Christ Church Lutheran, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • The Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri
  • Aspen Music Center, Aspen, Colorado
  • Massachusettes Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • University of Michigan School of Music, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • TWA Terminal, New York City, New York
  • Dulles International Airport, Washington DC
  • Vivian Beaumont Repertory Theater & Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts Library and Museum, New York City, New York
  • And the Tulip Chair.
The Gateway Arch was designed by Saarinen in 1947.
The TWA Terminals was designed in 1956.
Dulles International Airport Terminal designed in 1958.
The Tulip Chair, Pedestal Series, 1954.
Some of the gardens.

The house was full of details and quite beautiful. It was partially under restoration, so there was scaffolding around parts of the exterior. It has a wonderful view of the lake. Saarinen and his wife Loja, and Herman Gesellius (one of the original three young architects) are buried in the woods near Hvitträsk. There was a path marked to their resting places.

After touring the house and gardens, we headed to the Helsinki area waterfront for a last late lunch/early dinner. It was beautiful weather, and we ate outside by the water.

For convenience, we stayed our last night at the Helsinki airport Hilton. We tried to check our bags the night before departure, but we still did not have our negative test results. The Lufthansa counter person said no test results, no check in and no bag check. So back to the hotel we went to await the test results.

The Helsinki Hilton junior suite sauna.

Luckily, this Hilton has suites with their own sauna. Nice. The test results came in around 9 pm, so about seven hours after taking our nose swabs. You had to have a digital device as the link to the results needed a pass code which was texted to your phone. All very digital and efficient, and pricey. I was glad to be in a country as tech savvy and health conscious as it is. It would be difficult to get tested and the results back in time in some less organized countries.

It seems that the US government is leaving all the checking of documents to the airlines. Our documents were checked several times in Helsinki, about four times at our connection stop in Munich, but not once at the customs control in the US.

This entry was posted in Finland. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Last Day

  1. Teresa Favazza says:

    Very interesting Saarinen architecture, great pics as always! Looks like you both had a wonderful vacation and don’t want to come home— life is better in Finland 🇫🇮

  2. Teresa Favazza says:

    Very interesting Saarinen architecture, great pics as always! Looks like you both had a wonderful vacation and don’t want to come home— life is better in Finland 🇫🇮

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s