Saturday, 28 July 2007

dispatch: Helsinki

This is the first in a series of e-mails I sent while travelling this summer. I intend to post them all here, along with additional stuff written after my return.


This is an exciting Finnish keyboard and so this e-mail may be interspersed with 'ä' and 'ö' and so on... enjoy!

Helsinki is weird. It is also wet. If you've ever been to Berlin, it's a little like that, with solid Soviet style architecture and a few beautiful buildings thrown into the mix. The interiors are generally rather austere; the Cathedral, apparently a masterpiece (and designed by a chap named Engel, Berlin-born. Does anyone know whether he designed the university square in Berlin? I'll shut up about Berlin now), looks almost unfinished inside. I really can't think of a better word than "weird", which is pathetic. Even the airport was bizarre. No immigration checks or anything. Just walk straight on out.

We've been to Suomenlinna Fortress (big sea fortress, intended to stop Russians invading, failed miserable when commander surrendered due to rumours the Russian forces were larger - they weren't) this morning, in the rain. We walked round it, in the rain. Did I mention the rain? It's July. It is raining. Was good, despite miserable weather. Will spare you the history lesson, but the guide was amusing, and those of you who know how much I hate guided tours/audio guides should be impressed that I listened.

Fortunately the weather cheered up this morning and I dragged my poor sister off to Temppeliaukio Church, (apparently Rock Church in English, which seems rather tame pronunciation wise) which is built into solid rock with a copper dome roof. Amazing, though full of Americans who were wittering on about being Brothers and Sisters in Christ. They get
everywhere. It's more infectious than Starbucks. (No Starbucks here, though many similar chains.)

Slightly related observations:
Finnish pop music is mental. It has made me stop and listen, gaping, in the street as it pumps out of bars. It is. Just. Mental.

Germans really do NOT get sarcasm.

Irish people really do say "tick" for "thick" sometimes. This also confuses Germans.

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