Helsinki, the Final Stop

The grand finale of my 10 days in Scandi-Land was Helsinki, Finland. To be frank, which by now you’re probably use to, it was a great last stop because it made me okay with going home.

Helsinki felt like stepping into Soviet Russia, (or the show Chernobyl for those of you who are terrible at history but have binge watched HBO instead).

I found the architecture rather somber and dreary, not that it isn’t interesting or aesthetically appealing to some- it’s just not my cup of tea. (I prefer buildings decorated and decked out in gold, remember?)

Nordic minimalism, functionalism, with traces of Art Deco and hints of Art Nouveau. All of it pulled together with a unifying element: lots of concrete.

Contextually, it all makes sense. Finland was an autonomous part of the Russian empire until 1917, and the two are neighboring countries. The heavy use of concrete and abundance of state sanctioned housing comes from the rise of the welfare state in the 60s. If you couldn’t tell, I did a lot of investigative work because I was trying to better understand why I constantly felt like someone would come marching down the street singing «калинка».

(Bet ya didn’t know I can read and write Cyrillic, huh? Finland is strangely the only place this mildly useless skill has come in handy since a lot of their signs are also in Russian.)

Speaking of languages, Finnish is WILD.

Throughout the trip people kept speaking to me in their native languages (which is fair because I’m blonde and light eyed liked the Scandinavians, but I would have thought that my short Slavic stature was a giveaway that my people were NOT Vikings.)

I found myself able to understand Norwegian decently enough to get by, and piece together a few Swedish words, but Finnish lost me. It is so different, so fascinating. I assumed it would either be similar to Russian or any of the Scandinavian languages, but it’s actually an Uralic language and it’s closest language is Hungarian.

God speed to anyone learning it- you’re a brave soul.

I’ll wrap my Helsinki thoughts with food because I found their cuisine strangely comforting. Herring, roe, potatoes, lots of pickled things- some of the basics you can find in polish foods.

But, the one thing I cannot forgive the people of Finland for is Salmiakki Koskenkorva, a black liquor made out of ground ammonium chloride-based candy. Salty licorice is a taste I have not yet acquired… nor do I plan to.

Catching my flight home now- thanks for coming along on my Scandinavian adventures!

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