First impressions of Helsinki

1 Jul

I arrived in Helsinki at 9 am on July 1st, 2013. It was a Monday, when sights were closed, so sightseeing was a no-go. I made the bad decision to crash out in my hostel, and then, before I knew it, I awoke at 5pm, when I had my dinner of Reindeer pizza. So now, unable to sleep, I’m in the lobby of the hostel (wifi is not working in my room) with nothing else to do, so I decided to write about what I thought of Helsinki just based on a bus ride into town, and a bit of walking around looking for the tram stop.

Based on the look, feel, and atmosphere of the place, I love Helsinki. The place has simple art noveau architecture, lots of modern coffee places, a unique and interesting language, and a lot of interesting shops. Helsinki has made a great first impression. I expected it to be  quite boring, as just a less colorful version of Boston, a launching point on my trip before I got to the more interesting (to me) places like Tallinn. But no. Helsinki is a modern, dynamic, and handsome capital, perched on the water, with a cathedral or museum here and there and lots of interesting islands to visit.

There’s something very modern in the air here in Finland. There’s screens wherever there’s a use for them, from the airport to the tram stops, and there’s loads of phone shops. The city also has a lot of contemporary-looking architecture that blends in with the older buildings perfectly.

To be honest, few nationalities I come across when traveling play to their national stereotypes. I’ve rarely found French shop owners rude, I’ve rarely found Germans to be stern and scary, and I’ve rarely found Americans (or at least, in the urban Northeast) to be ignorant fat rednecks who eat at McDonalds and constantly talk about guns. The finns, however, have so far been an exception. The finns I’ve come across (so far) in the airport, in the hostel, and on the plane, play perfectly to the stereotype of being quiet, reserved, robotic, speaking awesome english, and addicted to coffee and phones.

Finland is an interesting and quirky country, and I’m highly looking forward to a day of sightseeing tomorrow.

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