Back through the looking glass in Helsinki, I spend my final day detoxing with shopping. Finnish design mirrors its people: functional, avant-garde, sexy, well formed, and durable. I stride through Helsinki's Design District, an eclectic downtown area with more than 100 shops offering creative fashion, jewelry, art, antiques, furnishings, and more. I walk in the shadows of the romantic Art Nouveau buildings topped with fairy-tale touches like gargoyles that come from not-so-scary nightmares. I hit the Arabia Factory and its showroom, buying greatly discounted Iittala glasses and Arabia bowls. I go to Stockmann, which is London's Harrods meets Paris's Le Samaritaine - an awe-inspiring department store so huge, I am certain people must live within it. And, at last, I splurge on jewelry at Kalevala Koru, a shop offering modern and traditional designs based on pieces found in Finnish archaeological excavations.
Bags in hand, I consider one last vodka for the road, but without the mantle of judges and an international cadre of competitors, it just doesn't seem worthwhile.
Well, maybe just one more … and make it Finlandia.