Ah, a post I have wanted to write ever since I left Helsinki on that sad September day (in which I cried)….
So, I finally achieved my dream of traveling to Finland last year. I had planned this trip ever since I was twelve years old, so I had plenty of time to prepare.
I brought my Finnish-English dictionaries, my Finnish language learning books, and my Finland culture books. I was ready.
In my last night in Bergen, I was crying my eyes out. You could say I was dealing with hormonal pains. At three am I was walking back to the hotel with my sister and I had to be around a lot of drunk Norwegians on the street. I felt so uncomfortable and I thought I would never fit in the today’s youth. I was also crying and saying how I didn’t want to leave Bergen because I loved it so much! I kept blabbing on and on about how Helsinki was going to be boring….
I loved Bergen, but Helsinki hit me in a deeper way.
There I was on the plane from Oslo to Helsinki….
I started listening to my jams and thinking of all the sights I was going to see…It was when I was listening to The Slider by T.Rex (their best album) and “Main Man” was playing when we were descending and I could see the lights and, by God, I started crying.
I had wanted this so much. So much. There were many dreams during those six years in which I was in the airport and, right when we were taking off from the plane to Helsinki, I would wake up.
My dream was coming true!
I was so happy I even did the same diva thing Marc Bolan did after he walked out of his vehicle.
Well, it was late and we didn’t know how we were going to get the apartment we had rented. So, I bought a bus ticket which cost me 11 euros.
I went outside and stood there to wait for the bus. I was sort of familiar with Finnish signs. The bus simply passed by me. I couldn’t believe the bus driver did such a thing, I thought then. I later learned that you had to raise your hand. So I had wasted 11 euros and I had no idea how to get to the apartment at midnight.
So I approached one of the taxi drivers and I said, “Excuse me…”
I noticed he didn’t really speak English, so I had my chance to finally put my Finnish skills to test. 7 years of self-taught Finnish!
Me: “Osoite neljä kymmentä kolme….[address name and numbers in Finnish]”
Taxi driver: “Suomeksi???” (In Finnish???)
(He had a wide smile on his face)
Me: “Puhun vain vähän suomea!” (I only speak little Finnish!)
Then off we went on a hour drive and he just spoke Finnish and I understood half of what he said….
I was so impressed on how we sort of held a conversation!
As he was pointing at buildings I noticed Kiasma and I commented about it.
Taxi Driver: “Kiasma?? MEH. Ateneum!!!!”
Kiasma is a modern art museum in Helsinki. Ateneum is also an art museum, but it has classic paintings. I very much loved Ateneum. I didn’t end up going to Kiasma 🙂
I could spend hours in Ateneum! It was a truly enchanting place. I guess since I like classic things I am not that interested in modern art.
I remember saying “Kiitoksia” (thank you so much) to him after he helped us get our bags off his vehicle. He gave us his number.
I was so happy.
My first day in Helsinki was an eye-opener. My sister and I went to buy groceries and it was raining so much I was soaked! I didn’t have neither an umbrella or a hoodie. It was also cold!
When I was 13, I used to go on Google Maps and walk around Helsinki using the street view tool. It was very fun. Now I was actually here!
I walked in the department store Sokos and asked the lady worker, “Um, missä on sateenvarjo?” (Where is the umbrella?”)
She looked at my wet hair, jeans, boots, and smiled. She snickered and showed me where they were. I still have that beautiful purple sateenvarjo.
We didn’t go out and eat much, for Finnish food is expensive. We just made spaghetti in the apartment, he-he!
Helsinki is bigger than I thought. We walked a LOT.
Here are more pictures from the trip…
In my second day in Helsinki I chose to go to Sea Horse restaurant. One of the people I admire most from Finland is the artist Touko Laaksonen, or Tom of Finland. I read that he used to dine at Sea Horse with his boyfriend Veli. I just had to eat there!
The restaurant is very posh and quite expensive. The picture of the food above was a plate for ONE person and it cost about 40 euros. It was reindeer fillet accompanied by oniony mashed potatoes, broccoli, squash, and the puorukka sauce (the pink beets).
It was delicious! It left me full! I very much enjoyed the mash potatoes! If you are ever a visitant of Helsinki, don’t forget to check this one out!
After dining at Sea Horse, my sister and I walked around Kaivopuisto, since it was near.
What a beautiful park.
It felt like a little paradise and the sunny weather greatly contributed to its beauty. There were many dogs around, too! We walked there for about two hours.
Earlier that day we also walked around central Helsinki. We visited the Tuomiokirkko church (Helsinki Cathedral), Esplanadi Park, the Uspenski Cathedral, and the market square.
I also visited Suomenlinna on the very next day. Beautiful fortress! I totally wore the wrong shoes though. Never wear flats to Suomenlinna. Walking through the rocky floor was so intolerable and painful we left in the middle of our tour. I was also rather cranky (I am not big on tourists). It was the last day of summer and it was divine! There is a lot of culture and history, as it also used to be a prison.
I will include pictures of Suomenlinna and the toy museum 🙂
When we were in Suomenlinna as the ferry arrived to take us back to Helsinki, a stampede of Finnish little kids stormed out with their Pokémon Go on their phones. Finns are mad about Pokémon Go.
During our walks around the city, my sister and I would visit this park. I can’t remember the name of it, but I would always see people playing that game, even adults. I called it the Pokémon park.
On the next day, we rode more trams around the city. Trams are very efficient modes of transportation. I think Finland has a great transportation system! However, I found it odd that my ticket was never checked and that anyone could just sit there. I felt so guilty at one point I went to the driver and showed her my Helsinki card. She just nodded and had a blank expression.
I remember we even had to sit next to this old man who looked like he very much hated life. We had to sit quite close to him since it was full.
We visited a famous music store called Music Hunter. I was just going to “browse” and see what good stuff they had. Beware of Music Hunter. Your wallet will despise Music Hunter, especially your credit cards.
I was mesmerized. I wanted so many things. They had a rare edition of the first album of Tyrannosaurus Rex, but it was quite expensive! If you are very much into music, I recommend this store. I spent more than I expected, but I bought things I had wanted to own for a very long time 🙂
We then went to eat and I surprisingly saw Rudolph Valentino!
We then went grocery shopping again…
On the next day, we just walked around more and my sister went to a concert of an artist called King Dude. I was feeling kind of sad 😦
I saw Lubitsch and I started crying. To me this was more than a picture. It symbolized a part of my life. To me it meant that I had already achieved this dream, so now I needed to go achieve the next one, filmmaking, which Mr. Lubitsch represents. I just have to get through more and do more to achieve it. The picture quality sucks because my phone sucks 🙂
I also sat in a bar and, even though I am of the legal age to drink in Finland, I ordered a coke 🙂
The rest of the trip just included Ateneum and more walking…
I believe the picture of Ateneum is in my sister’s phone..
The pictures in front of the railway station were taken by me when I was in the tram. It was my last day there and I was quite sad. The rain expressed my mood.
We also ate an inexpensive reindeer meal in kauppatori (the market square). It was delicious! What I really loved were the mashed potatoes and the reindeer. Yummy Rudolph!
Then…sigh…then we had to leave. The airport in Vantaa was less chaotic and the security was calm. When we boarded the airport and the plane was ascending to go to Oslo, I started to cry. The poor man next to me look so confused.
I so dearly miss Helsinki. I’d go back, but it is pricey and the way things are there right now isn’t really making me want to go. I loved the culture and the odd behavior from the Finns. I speak of the lack of eye contact 🙂
I miss Kaivopuisto. I miss the reindeer. I miss Ateneum. I miss when I ordered a chicken sandwich, I said, “Can I have this kana sandwich, please?” I miss walking around the street and seeing Timo Soini on the newspapers. I don’t know; I just felt a sense of belonging.
I would live there, but Helsinki is expensive and I have to finish the university first 🙂
When I visit next time, I’ll make sure to visit the Sibelius statue, the national Finland Museum, and probably try the pastries!
Writing this post made me so very nostalgic and I feel mellow!
I do hope I can go again someday. Here’s to more adventure!