Saturday, April 7, 2012


 Often when I travel I spend the majority of my time with friends, others who are traveling or by myself. Generally I don't typically spend a lot of time with the locals. My only interactions with them is when I am purchasing a service, or inevitably get lost and need to ask for directions.

Finland was different from my 'regular' travel experiences. I actually spent all my time with people from Finland. I helped celebrate one guys birthday one night so was with about 5 other Finnish people. One of my first questions was if everyone in Finland could speak such English. One girl responded that she could not speak good English, although I still have trouble believing that. I was able to have a conversation with her relatively problem free. One of the first questions I was asked was if I had Sauna.

I stayed the majority of my time in the small city of Tampere. I regretfully did not spend a lot of time outdoors in the city as the temperature was -20 for most of the time I was there. Basically the only time I went outside was to get food or to go somewhere else. I did not roam around the streets, which is how I typically travel.

That isn't to say I didn't try to wander, the temperature indoors just won me over. The first time I went out the plan was to walk the streets, get some food and walk the streets a little more. I walked for 2 minutes, and not only did I change my plan about walking around I also broke my new years resolution and ate at McDonald's. It was so cold that I decided to go to the first easy place I saw to get out of the frigid temperatures!
I did manage to get to an observation tower where I was able to see the whole city and that is where the pictures come from. It actually felt slightly good to be in this wintry atmosphere--although the feeling was very brief--because it reminded me of home.

The first meal I had was pizza. I had the Finlander, it had different kinds of cheese on it and reindeer meat. It was fantastic.

I went to the Finnish hockey hall of fame in Tamperes as well. It featured some of Finland's--and the world's--most talented hockey players, as well as the history of how hockey was introduced to Finland. I think the most interesting thing I learned was the trophy that the Finnish play for is the Canada cup because it was given to them as a gift from Canada.

After the outdoor hockey game in Helsinki it was finally time to try Finnish Sauna. I was told there are over 2 million saunas in the country and only about 5 million people, so roughly for every 2 people there is a sauna. I have done a sauna before, in Korea, but that was a large public one. In Finland, it was a private sauna and it was quite hot. Once we could no longer take the heat we ran into the backyard and jumped into the snow, then warmed ourselves in the sauna once again.

I was a little skeptical about jumping naked into the snow, but the others were doing it so I decided it was a cultural must. They told me not to worry there was a large fence in their backyard so the neighbours couldn't see us. Then they told me it was the neighbours who built the fence, insinuating that the fence was erected because of them rolling around in the snow naked.

I certainly enjoyed the Finnish sense of humour.

No comments:

Post a Comment