Last night we went downtown Helsinki to take a tour. Finland appears to be a pretty amazing place. Here are some things that I learned:
1. Finland has about 5,000,000, of which 1,000,000 live in the greater Helsinki area.
2. There are only 17 people per km^2 in Finland. That is a pretty low population density.
3. Pretty much everyone owns a sauna.
4. And a boat.
5. And they all go to some island like twice a year (how is that for vague?)
6. May 1 is a holiday in which all of the college students come out and wash the statue of the naked lady in the main square (I sh*t you not). They even have invented this lift thing that raises them up to the statue's level. Maybe she is just hotter than you can tell from the window of the bus....???
7. Sibelius is about the most famous Fin. There is a pretty cool monument to him in Helsinki.
8. They have good ice cream at the ice cream stand by the beach. You know the one?
9. The tour lady says that they have good ice cream because Italians moved up to Finland and opened an ice cream factory a long time ago. Yet another powerful piece of information.
10. The trolley costs 2 euros, and you can ride it for an hour. I think of that as expensive, but everyone else was, like, that is cheap ($3 for a bus is cheap???) And, if you get on the trolley without paying, and they catch you, it is an 80 euro fine. Wow. Yike.
11. They have beer stands in the middle of town in Helsinki. You buy a beer and sit down (or walk around) and drink it!
12. The Swedes controlled Finland for a long time (something like 700+ years).
13. The Russians controlled Finland for about 100 years.
14. They liked the first Russian leader (Alexander, I think), but hated the rest. So they built a statue to him and rubbed the statue in all of the other's faces, saying "why couldn't you be like him?" Nice.
15. Kids in Finland are required to take 2 foreign languages - one of which has to be Swedish (if your native tongue is Finish) or Finish (if your native tongue is Swedish). Which leads to...
16. Both Finish and Swedish are the official languages of Finland - every street is labeled in both Finish and Swedish.
17. Only 5% of the people in Finland speak Swedish natively. Which makes all of the street signs a little silly, if you ask me (which you didn't).
18. Finland was on the losing side of WWII. I had forgotten that.
19. There is a lot of meat and potatoes eaten in Finland. Even for lunch. And sometimes for breakfast.
20. The president of Finland is a lady. Our tour guide pointed this out. She also pointed out that when the president goes to a sauna no one seems to give a crap, but when a rock star or a soap opera star goes to the sauna everyone is googley-eyed. I guess we have more in common with Finland than just meat and potatoes.
Well, that was some good bits-o-info.
And with that, I bit you good night (or good mid-day, what ever time-zone you may be in).
4 weeks ago