If you ever go here

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Travel  |  House: Booksie Classic
I wrote about Sweden like months ago, so here, let me give you some weird tips about travelling in Finland.

Submitted: September 02, 2019

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Submitted: September 02, 2019



I was on a tram yesterday and realized something horrible. I’ve never been to the Finnish National Museum. I don’t live in Helsinki but I do come here a lot, and just yesterday getting off at the tram stop by it, I was kind of shocked by my own ignorance. Because I like museums. I’ve been to the Swedish National Museum. I’ve been to the Estonian National Museum. Denmark’s. A lot of countries’, but never Finland, and I have to fix that because I think it’s not a huge requirement for a citizen of a country to have visited the national museum of said country.

That said, I try to visit some kind of cultural place whenever abroad instead of just binge drinking around town. I love travelling and I’ve realized I’m pretty ignorant about things I should have seen in Finland. Because let’s face it, tourism in Finland is rising all the time. We have more and more Asian tourists here, and apparently many have no idea whether they’re in Helsinki, Tallinn or Stockholm when they are here, but I can’t blame them. I mixed up Stockholm and Tallinn until I was 9. But if you ever come to Helsinki, you gotta check out these few places.

My all-time favourite museum probably anywhere is Kiasma, a museum of modern art in the middle of Helsinki. They always have something interesting to see. Obviously there are other museums, like the Ateneum and said National Museum, but if you wanna check out one, go to Kiasma. Right next to that is the new, amazing, head library Oodi. I’ve been there about twice and I hate it. I like libraries where you can chill and it’s fucking quiet. But it’s a new place and full of tourists and families with babies that cry too loud that you could actually concentrate on reading or something. But it’s a nice building and the view from the roof/terrace is pretty cool.

My favourite place during the summer in Helsinki is the Rhododendron Park in Haaga. It’s a beautiful place when said flowers are blooming in May and June. It’s in the middle of a suburb just a ten-minute train from the central station, and seriously, amazing. If you’re ever in Helsinki at that time, check it out. Just in general Helsinki is beautiful in the summer, like most of Finland is. Too bad that’s only a few weeks of the year, right?

I don’t want to be the Finnish person who says that Helsinki is all of the country, like most foreigners think. Because let’s face it, about 80% of the population lives outside the Helsinki area, and most of the land is unmanned forest with no one in sight. But Helsinki is a nice start, because it’s easy. Everything is not only in Finnish, but obviously in Swedish too. And English. Many things in Russian too, and public transit works well. Once you leave the city, it’s very different, but I suppose that’s normal everywhere.

I live in a town called Kouvola. Shitty town. We’re the Soviet Union of Finland. You can Google and you will understand. Everything is made of concrete. But we do have a few good things. First off, Kouvola is about 80 minutes from Helsinki by train, and there are at least one per hour. We’re a railway town. Most trains that leave to east form Helsinki cross here. So that’s my favourite thing about the town; if you want to, it’s easy to get away. If you’re interested in boring history, you can visit Verla, an old paper factory. It’s one of the few UNESCO World Heritage sites in Finland. I mean, it’s a beautiful place and I suppose interesting, but once your school forces you there for the fifth time, it gets boring.

We have a national park, Repovesi, less than an hour from the centrum. It’s a perfect place for camping or hiking, and it’s one of the very Finnish landscapes of forest and water. Because let’s face it, we have lakes. Almost 200 000 of them. And 70% of the land is forest. So. You can expect a lot of those if you get out of town and to the countryside. We have a summer cabin in Repovesi (yes, most Finns own a cabin in the middle of said forest and water), and I hate being in a summer cabin, but then again, I’m not your most stereotypical Finn. If you go there, don’t take the bus. Do not. Because there aren’t many. Like on a day. You should never take the bus to Northern Kouvola. Especially during Sunday evening. Just don’t. Unless you want to spend 40 minutes in a buss full of hungover conscripts that smell like snus and misery because no one wants to spend their weeks in a military base that looks as soviet-like as the town.

If you are weird and want to visit Finland during the winter, you can ski. It sucks. I’m glad I never have to ski again, because it’s hellish and I don’t understand how people like it. I’m not talking about downhill skiing, by the way. I’m talking about cross-country skiing. All Finns can ski, we’re taught that in kindergarten, but most hate it. We have to ski in school and if you’re unfortunate enough to end up in the military in a year when there is much snow, you get to ski with a ridiculous amount of crap and a rifle on you, and that’s even worse than in school. But technically, all can ski. Everyone can also skate. I actually enjoy skating. But that’s the only winter sport that I like. And even then, it’s nice inside in a rink. Still, especially Lapland (Northern Finland) is a nice place to be during the winter if you like Santa Claus or winter sports.

But enough about that. If you ever visit Finland, there are a few things you have to try. Sauna, obviously, because it’s the most Finnish thing there is. Preferably a sauna by a lake so you can go swim. Preferably when it’s -30 C outside. And dear god, don’t make the mistake where you wear a swimsuit to sauna. Unless it’s a public gender-mixed sauna. But if it’s separated by gender, no way. You’re not even allowed to, in most public saunas. But sauna is great. Very relaxing.

I wish I could say something positive about Finnish food culture, but it’s very… odd. We love black things. Coffee, obviously. I’m talking about black coffee. I drink my coffee as black as my soul, and I flip off the people who put milk or sugar in theirs, because they’re pussies. Anyway. Finns drink a lot of coffee, and it’s regular coffee. Not some de-caf syrup latte. That shit is good, but it doesn’t count as coffee. We also love liquorice, and once again, not some pussy-ass pink flavoured stuff, but black liquorice. And salty liquorice, aka salmiakki. That’s the shit, and I’m sure if you ever happen to find yourself in Finland, some one will force feed it to you. And you will most likely hate it. Because it’s salty and gross and my favourite candy, and many Finns agree. But most foreigners can’t understand it. Swedes, maybe. They have it too.

If you happen to be here during spring, you might stumble across a black mush that’s eaten during Easter. It’s mämmi, a rye-based dessert that looks like shit. Seriously. You can Google it, and it is very much like poop. It divides people, and most people can’t tolerate it without cream, but it’s okay. But then again, the cream helps. And it is pretty horrible, just looking at it, because let’s face it, a lot of what we taste comes from the sight.

We drink a lot. It’s sad, but we do. And the best drinks contain salmiakki. Our very own horrible vodka, Koskenkorva, is fucking amazing. The best type of that vodka is salmiakki flavoured Koskenkorva. It tastes like flu medicine, to be honest. And in reality, it’s a great flu medicine. I had it just a few months ago when I was sick, because my mom thought it would be funny to get me some. Oh, and alcohol is very strict here. You can only buy alcohol from 9 to 21. If you want anything stronger than 5.5%, you have to go to a special store and that’s not open on Sundays, so get your drinks before that. Bars are different, but ridiculously expensive, so you might want to get a headstart home before getting out there. And yes, you will get your ID checked even if you are 30. So keep that with you if you look young.

If you don’t like strong drinks, we have long drinks. I talked to a guy from Copenhagen when I was there. He had visited Finland and was wondering what all that weird shit in blue cans is, because it’s not beer, right? Long drink is made of grapefruit, so it’s grey. And gin. Don’t ask me where the color comes from, I’ve never seen a grey grapefruit. But that’s like our national drink. We literally have a national long drink day. November 17th. Yes, we are that addicted to a drink that tastes like soda and apparently gives you the worst hangover. Someone said that once, and I don’t know if that’s true, but you do not want to take a shower and realize you have grapefruit-flavoured shampoo when you’ve been throwing up something that smells like said shampoo last night. I speak from experience.

Finland is a pretty easy country to visit, in a sense. The airport is fucking amazing, Finnair flies to most European capitals, Japan, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, United States, Mexico, Cuba lot of places. Airport is easy to get to by train. Do not take taxis here, it’s expensive. Ridiculously. Everything is in English, and most people speak English. At least some. People seem very unsocial, but we’re nice once you get to know us. And even if you don’t. Finns aren’t very eager to speak English, but that’s only because we’re very self aware of our pronunciation and are scared you won’t understand us if we get something a little wrong. We’re still very helpful and if you ask any Finn on the street for directions, they’ll be happy to help, even if they sound very Finnish when they speak English. In reality Finns are pretty nice although antisocial. We’ll be nice to tourists. As long s you don’t think we’re a part of Russia or say that Sweden is the best country in the world. Or that Sweden is better at sports, especially ice hockey. If you say that I can’t assure you will be safe.

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