Interesting Finnish trivia I learnt on my walking tour

Helsinki Travel Blog

 › entry 10 of 14 › view all entries
Helsinki Public Library : so, the tour guide said that this is one of the most popular photos of Helsinki. And that most bloggers use this as their cover photo.... I don't think so. Infact, I'd never seen or even heard of it till I visited

Funny how things turn out! The Aussie roommate from the previous night was a huge fan of architecture, and wanted to take the 10Euro walking architecture tour offered by the Architecture Museum. This was supposed to start at 10am. He asked me if I wanted to come along and I poo-poo'ed the idea saying it wasn't my thing. I had my eyes on the open air museum instead. And then, I slept that night thinking - well, I'm not a fan of open air museums (I've visited 3 so far with middling success) so why bother? Instead, I'll take this tour. As I said, I remember his saying the tour was at 10am by the Cathedral.

So off I went that morning after breakfast (I have to say, I had my own supernatural event happen that morning - I can swear I woke up at 645a and headed to the shower shortly after.

The National Bank building (which is still functional but as Finland also adopted Euro, this isn't as significant as it was before)
I showered for not more than 10-15 minutes, and when I come out, folks were having the free hostel breakfast which can only startat 8am! Weird!). It was a bit drizzly but definitely nice weather teethering on warm. The green hat tours meets by the Cathedral and he'd started explaining when I got there. I spotted a girl from my hostel as well. I got to meet 2 James - 1 aussie and the other, a teacher from Singapore. He loves travel, and he and I had a great time talking about airlines (he'd flown Qatar). The tour was amazing and I learnt a whole lot of trivia about the places we visited: we started at the Cathedral >> library >> National Bank building >> along the harbour to the open air market and closed market >> Museum district where we disbanded. I've got some cool trivia I learnt from the tour at the end of this blog entry.
Alvar Aalto is Finland's most famous architect. This building he designed is also the most polarising in terms of opinions... popularly called the "sugar cube" building, it's been voted "Helsinki's ugliest building" time after time!

After the tour, James and I visited the two famed churches here: the Temppeliaukio Church aka Rock Church was the first stop. It was swarming with visitors which isn't surprising. As the name suggests, the church has been built directly into solid rock. With its rather vibrant hues of purple and violet, a very swish altar and a huge podium, this church has become a famous concert venue the last few days. Also helping its favour is the balcony section. Whilst I really admire the design (so very Scandinavian, just couldn't think of another word) and a nice balance between the naturally rough rock and the posh human design, it was probably the crowds or something but it didn't feel like being in a church. Felt more like being in some convention centre. Anyway, one doesn't need more than 10 minutes here.

The Royal Palace
So photos done, and off we went to the next stop - the modern Kamppi Chapel, which, per Wiki is  also known as the "Chapel of Silence" since it is intended to be a place to calm down and have a moment of silence in one of the busiest areas in Finland. Again, the point's lost here as it's got more tourists taking photos and noisily flipping through the tourist books here that the idea of silence went out that window. That said, I really liked its concept and its very interesting design. It's made of 3 types of wood!

James had to check out by 130p so he left. I went back to the hostel, ate some lunch (pre-cooked quinoa I'd brought from the US) and rested for a bit. I then set out for my big shopping splurge aka Marimekko. Bought some pretty fancy stuff at...

When I first visited the open air market, I wondered what these nets are for. apparently, they're for seagulls that get quite aggressive with humans for food!
yep, a pretty penny. I must say I was so impressed with the professionalism in which they packed and neatly sorted the VAT stuff as well. I returned to the hostel, packed (was a challenge fitting all of this in) and then, made a surprise decision: I wanted 1 more round of sauna! I stopped by the railway station first to see where the Finnair bus stops so I won't be on a wild's goose chase with bleary eyes the next day.

Headed back around 6pm, spent over 1 hour here and enjoyed it as much as I did the first day. I was pretty impressed to see even physically challenged people coming to the sauna. On return, I stopped by for some hot chocolate, returned to the hostel and finished dinner. I thought I'd go for a post-dinner night walk but decided against it. Stuck around in the hostel on office email and called it a night by 11pm.

Kamppi Chapel
 

3 days really over?! 

This was one of the first few trips I planned literally NOTHING before hand (and anyone who knows me will go wide eyed at that) but I'm glad how it turned out. I saw, I immersed, I savoured but more importantly, I enjoyed.

FINLAND TRIVIA I LEARNT DURING THE WALKING TOUR:

  1. The "sugarcube" building was voted ugliest in Helsinki (see photo)
  2. The inside of the Library building is one of the most photographed spots in the city
  3. Fins' favourite activity is karaoke, as opposed to the more common going out to bars and pubs. There are also karaoke cabs where teams can have a karaoke event on the wheels. Also, some pretty famous singers show up at karaoke bars and sing with the rest of the population!
  4. The Empress stone put up when Russian empress visited Helsinki in 1830 (the one in the centre of market Sq) 
  5. Newly elected Head of State always does his first state visit to Sweden
  6. Finnish politicians are supposedly down to earth.
    Karelian pasty: pretty cheap snack. It's rice baked inside a rye crust, and popularly eaten with "egg butter" (yes, that's mashed up boiled eggs)
    Even the President and the PM show up at the open market and have coffee at the tents, and are encouraged to talk to the public
  7. Finnish national food: dark rye bread 
  8. At one point, the French lifestyle was considered a fashionable thing in Helsinki which explains the similarity of the Esplanade here with the ones in Paris
  9. Street signs are in both Finnish and Swedish, as are official docs. School kids are taught both
  10. "Sauna diplomacy" - some Finnish members of state would invite Russian diplomats for negotiations there!!
  11. Finland : neutral country: they are not a member of NATO as it might annoy Russia
  12. State owns liquor stores, anything above 4.8% is sold only in one store. Finnish go to Tallinn to buy alcohol in bulk as it's cheaper
Ils1976 says:
of course you went for a second time to the sauna ... who wouldn't do that! :D
Posted on: Sep 10, 2017
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Helsinki Public Library : so, the …
Helsinki Public Library : so, the…
The National Bank building (which …
The National Bank building (which…
Alvar Aalto is Finlands most famo…
Alvar Aalto is Finland's most fam…
The Royal Palace
The Royal Palace
When I first visited the open air …
When I first visited the open air…
Kamppi Chapel
Kamppi Chapel
Karelian pasty: pretty cheap snack…
Karelian pasty: pretty cheap snac…
The warehouses converted to fancy …
The warehouses converted to fancy…
Helsinki Cathedral, once more!
Helsinki Cathedral, once more!
The warehouses converted to fancy …
The warehouses converted to fancy…
Finlands national food - rye bread
Finland's national food - rye bread
Random shot whilst on the walking …
Random shot whilst on the walking…
Another statue I passed by the oth…
Another statue I passed by the ot…
Entrance to Temppeliaukio Church
Entrance to Temppeliaukio Church
Entrance to Temppeliaukio Church
Entrance to Temppeliaukio Church
Temppeliaukio Church
Temppeliaukio Church
Temppeliaukio Church
Temppeliaukio Church
Temppeliaukio Church
Temppeliaukio Church
Temppeliaukio Church
Temppeliaukio Church
Temppeliaukio Church
Temppeliaukio Church
Kamppi Chapel
Kamppi Chapel
Kamppi Chapel
Kamppi Chapel
Inside Kamppi Chapel
Inside Kamppi Chapel
Helsinki
photo by: portia