Things That I Have Learned in Helsinki, Finland
“Countries are like people: by their very existence they exalt or deflate the opinions one would like to have of themselves. When I return from Finland, I feel younger and livelier; I make great plans, I like many things in the world and, what is more, I like myself a little better.” George Duhamel
Helsinki is one of the coldest cities in the world. It does not receive sunshine for about fifty consecutive days in winters. The city has around a hundred average days of snow and a hundred and seventy days of below freezing weather. (not winter)
Helsinki has many heavy metal bands. They even have them for kids. You are never too young to rupture your eardrums.
You can take the ferry from Talinn, Estonia to Helsinki, Finland.
Helsinki’s has one hundred kilometres of coast and over three hundred islands of which many are accessible for recreational use. You can take a ferry to Suomenlinna which has one of the world’s largest maritime fortresses. The islands of Pihlajasaari and Uunisaari are good for beaches and sauna. You can go to Seurasaari Open Air Museum, or the Helsinki Zoo which is located on an island called Korkeasaari.
There are around 2.2 million saunas in Finland – 1 for every 2.5 people. Visiting the sauna is as normal to a Finn, as going to the pub is to a Brit.
A Finnish sauna is taken naked. Wearing clothes in the sauna is a big faux pas. A bathing suit counts as clothes. It’s normal to go in with groups of friends or family, drink beer and even grill sausages on the fire.
The Sibelius monument, designed by Eila Hiltunen, is dedicated to Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, which was made public on 7th September, 1967. It is made up of 600 steel pipes, plastered together in the shape of wave.
Helsinki has the highest cellphone-to-resident ratios in the world. This is odd because the people don’t appear to be that talkative. Maybe it is not so odd because the world’s leading manufacturer of cell phones, Nokia, is based in Finland. Nokia used to make rubber boots. I see the similarity (?)
The amount that you get fined for speeding on the roads in Finland depends on the amount you earn. I heard that the CEO of Nokia had some really expensive speeding ticket.
The Design Museum of Helsinki has a permanent collection of over 75,000 pieces. It is Finnish design from the nineteenth century to the present. I have always been a fan of Industrial Finnish design of the fifties and sixties and so i spent many hours there.
In 1952, the 15th Summer Olympic Games were held in Helsinki. They proved to be a milestone in the city’s history as they led to further urbanization and development of the city.
There are more women than men in Finland.
Finnish food is simple, local and organic. Being so close to Russia (we took the train to St Petersburg) there is always meat and potatoes. Meat is served well done, with blood or with a lot of blood. There is always fish because of all the lakes, rivers and the sea, Whitefish, herring and salmon are popular. I had hot smoked salmon which was weirdly delicious – so was reindeer. (Sorry Rudolph fans)
Helsinki was originally Helsinkflors which is Swedish (and apparently so were they for a time –and then they were Russian).
Swedish is also an official language in Finland. Linguistically Finnish is closer to Hungarian than Swedish. Signs are indecipherable – don’t even try.
Helsinki enjoys long days of almost 19 hours during summers. Conversely, during winters, the nights are longer with almost 18 hours of darkness. ( summer in Helsinki)
One of my favorite modern art museums is the Kiasma Museum of Modern Art. It is not just an art but a spatial experience.
Helsinki has a huge bunny rabbit problem. Very little happens in Finland which is how I know about the bunny problem. They report it a lot on the news.
The Church of the Rock was designed by the two brothers, Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen. They started their work in 1968 by exploding a rocky outcrop, which was developed as an underground church with a copper wire ceiling in 1969. From the aerial view it appears as if a UFO has collided with the ground.
Finns can drink. Don’t try to keep up. Alcohol is a food group here. Finns have long life spans unless they die of alcohol poisoning or related accidents. They will pee anywhere when they are drunk- which is why a city which such clean air can often smell bad in the morning.
Try not to mention architect Aalvar Aalto and composer Jan Sibelius when speaking about famous Finns. At least say you have heard of Esa Pekka Salonen. (being that he conducted the LA Philharmonic –I’m good)
Finns say hei for hello. It’s not rude – it’s friendly.
Oct 13 is failure day –a day to share your failure stories and learn from them. I have a lot of those days.
Because of the presence of buildings resembling St. Petersburg, many Hollywood films were shot in Helsinki, for instance, The Kremlin Letter, Reds, and Gorky Park. The city offers some picturesque streets that are reminiscent of old Leningrad’s and Moscow’s ancient buildings. (Helsinki Cathedral)
The Molotov cocktail was a Finnish invention during World War II and was used against the Russians. The Russian foreign minister Molotov claimed that the bombs they sent to Finland were food rations. So the Finns sent back a “cocktail” to go with the food.