Helsinki Airport Opens Free Lounge With Real Beds

helsinki airport relaxation lounge
Photo: Juho Suoperä

If you’ve ever tried to sleep on one of those hard airport terminal chairs as announcements blare over the PA system and passengers jostle into you with their luggage, you know how hard it is to get any decent rest while waiting for your flight.

Skift reports Helsinki Airport is giving travelers a reprieve by opening a relaxation lounge where travelers can sleep, rest or work in peace. The lounge has pod style chairs and even real beds, so passengers can choose the relaxation option that best suits them. The walls and ceilings are designed with acoustic technology to ensure a quiet environment, and the décor is meant to reflect the calming Finnish landscape, with ice and northern light motifs incorporated into the design.The relaxation area is open to passengers 24 hours a day, and here’s the best part -– it’s absolutely free. While we’ve seen a number of airport terminals incorporate mini hotel suites and pod sleeping areas in recent times, most charge by the hour for the privilege. Thankfully, in Helsinki that’s not the case. There’s no need to be a member of an airline loyalty program or fork over any exorbitant fees to get some shut-eye here.

French Vintage Carnival Rides Come To NYC

vintage carnival rides at Fete Paradiso
Courtesy Fete Paradiso

If you are a fan of carnival rides, history, or just good old-fashioned summer fun, take a ferry out to NYC’s Governor’s Island this summer for a festival of vintage Parisian rides and carousels. Billed as a museum meets amusement park, Fete Paradiso will open on July 13 and run until September 29, and feature 19th- and 20th-century attractions such as a pipe organ, flying swings and a bicycle carousel like the one featured in “Midnight in Paris.” To add to the vintage French feel, there will be food from bistro Le Gamin and a beer hall and event space converted from a 1900 bumper car pavilion, along with special events opening weekend for Bastille Day.

Admission to Fete Paradiso is free and rides are $3 a pop. The free ferry to Governor’s Island from Manhattan‘s Battery Maritime building or Brooklyn‘s Pier 6 runs half-hourly until 7 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. Learn more about Governor’s Island on their website, and follow the carnival set up on Instagram here.

The Late Night, Free Cultural Event Extravaganza: European Night Of Museums 2013

Nuit des Musées, Facebook

Budget traveling night owl alert: if you’re in Europe right now you don’t want to miss out on the ninth annual European Night of Museums this Saturday, May 18.

The idea is simple: open up museums way past their general closing hours, cut the entrance fee and make museum going a little more like nightlife instead of a rainy Sunday afternoon activity.

Coinciding with International Museum Day, European Night of Museums is organized by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, and this year almost 3,000 museums around Europe are participating not just by opening their doors for the late-night crowd, but hosting special events and beyond. Track them down here.

In Paris for example you have access to 150 museums and cultural centers – most of them for free – and while the waived entrance fee might attract a larger crowd to some of the more well known spots, it also means the chance to explore a few new places that you might have been meaning to check off the list.

In the U.K., you’ll also find Museums at Night, tied in with the European Night of Museums campaign, but open for a couple of extra days, this year held May 16-18, 2013.

Latvia, Romania, Norway … wherever you are in Europe, find a museum and book your Saturday night.

Free Art: Exploring The Graffiti Of Barcelona

You could go to Barcelona and see Sagrada Familia, and the contemporary art museum and all of the Gaudi houses, but if you head to the capital of Catalonia and don’t take some time to simply peruse the streets and check out the graffiti, you’ll miss out on some of the best art and creative inspiration that the city has to offer.

I, for one, am not usually a fan of graffiti, but done well, it’s a form of public art. In fact, graffiti in Barcelona is as ubiquitous as spots to drink an outdoor cortado. Walking one day I noticed a huge art supply store, their main window display a collection of cans of spray paint.

Barcelona graffiti is funky, recognizable and oozing with a creative spirit that you are hard pressed to find anywhere else – well, except maybe Berlin. Make your way down any alleyway and it’s almost like you’re in a modern art gallery; plus, I don’t need to remind you that it’s free. Here, art is democratized, and you can see it on almost every street if you just look.

The best time to go graffiti scouting is outside of business hours, when stores have their shutters – common canvases on the Bracelona graffiti scene – pulled down. Granted, not everyone is a fan; a couple of years ago the city cracked down on businesses that were commissioning graffiti artists to paint on their shutters. Eventually, those works were even deemed illegal, and the scene moved to the suburbs. But there’s plenty of good graffiti to be found all around, and if you’re a fan of the independent art scene, and like a different way to get a feel for a city, plan for an afternoon or two of wandering the streets and seeing what works you can track down.

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[Photo Credit: Anna Brones]

Discover Scandinavia In Washington DC: Nordic Cool 2013

Aurora Borealis, new Nordic cuisine, ice hotels, hot springs, fjords, moose, meatballs and music? Scandinavia is at the top of the list for a lot of travelers these days. But if you can’t book a ticket to the northern countries this year, Washington, D.C., might be your next best bet.

The city is the host of Nordic Cool 2013, a month-long international festival celebrating the culture of Scandinavia, taking place at the Kennedy Center from February 19 to March 17, 2013.

Featuring theater, dance, music, visual arts, literature, design, cuisine and film, the festival aims to highlight the diverse cultures of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden as well as the territories of Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Áland Islands. That’s a lot of Scandinavia in one month.

There is a wide selection of free events that are open to the public, including exhibits on Nordic design and plenty of musical performances. In fact, a total of more than 750 artists, musicians, dancers and writers, will descend upon the capital for the festival, all in an attempt to answer the question, “What is Nordic?”

There’s no simple answer to that, but at least you know it will be high on the cool factor.

[Photo Credit: Nordic Cool 2013]