The trip on the ferry to Helsinki was pretty pleasant. It was more like a small cruise ship with a large glass enclosed entertainment lounge in the bow, restaurants, bars, duty-free shops, slot machines etc. Upon arrival, I realized that something was rotten in the state of Denmark even though I had most assuredly arrived in Finland. Something was clearly amiss and had been for many months.
The shoes upon my feet, although very high quality, tough, waterproof Solomon hiking shoes had come to feel like humidity encased bacterial breeding grounds for fungus resulting in a serious case of bromodosis. Bromodosis is a fancy word for stink foot. I had grown weary the routine of the nightly fumigations followed by enclosing the shoes in a plastic sarcophagus for the night to prevent asphyxiating my roommates.
Today I took to the streets once again, this time in Helsinki, in search of my precious. For many months I have tried unsuccessfully to replace the offending footwear only to find that most European countries do not have any of the shoes I like in my size. I was so desperate that I was even willing to pay Scandinavian prices for a replacement.
On my way to pick up groceries, I chanced upon an Ecco shoe store which is a Scandinavian company founded in Denmark. They had a seriously aerated, attractive shoe that suited my fancy, but this time the shoes they had were much too large! There were none my size in all of Helsinki so I hopped on a bus to procure the right pair a half hour out of town. It was worth the effort, however. The shoes were only 100 euros, and now I am stepping easily in my cool, nice looking, comfortable shoes. One more reason to love Denmark.
ECCO – The Magnificent Shoe
This is where I caught the bus outside the Central Train Station to relieve myself of my offensive footwear.
I was greeted by this building on my triumphant return from the Mall with my new shoes. Now we can get on with Helsinki. This Friday is the Finnish holiday of Midsummer Eve. Midsummer is a main national holiday in Finland. Originally a celebration of the summer solstice, it is typically spent with friends and family at a summer cottage away from the city, either partying or relaxing. As a result, things will be pretty dead in the city this weekend except for some celebrations on the adjacent island of Seurasarri.
Esplanadi Park – Looks like Cristo has been doing some tree wrapping in this park.
Hoorah, graffiti without the cleanup!
A bunch of friendly Finns who beckoned me over to their table as I walked down the street, and offered me that shot you see in the foreground. They filled me in on the holiday goings on over the weekend and made some helpful recommendations. A nice welcome to the country.
Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
Choi JEONG – Love Me – 2013 / South Korea
Choi JEONG – Happy Happy – 2015 / South Korea
Choi JEONG – Flower Chandelier – 2012 / South Korea
Brian ENO – Memory Flowers – 1999 / Great Britain
Jouna KARSI – Pohjanmaa – 2104 / Finland
The scale model presents a miniature fragment of Ostrobothnia: An expanse of farming land and a road with traffic signs. The landscape seems so real that we can virtually smell the soil and wet asphalt. Circle the work and look at it from all sides there is a surprise waiting behind the shed. There you will find a colorfully lit floral extravaganza that is somehow reminiscent of package tours to Asia.
Jaakko NIEMELÄ – Faith – 2015
The ceiling has collapsed. A blinding light shines resplendently from above. Jack presents an open-ended situation that can be interpreted in various ways. Faith demands our physical presence, yet also our willingness to surrender to the situation staged by the artist – a readiness to open our mind. Niemelä often creates powerful spatial experiences through the use of light and shadow.
Nabb + Teeri – Roskavideo (Rubbish Video) – 1985 / Finland
Kaarina HAKA – Untitled – 2016 / Finland
Seen on the opposite side.
Ernesto NETO – Sailing Between Us – 2013 / Brazil
Ernesto NETO – And the Understanding from Nature – 2016 / Brazil
Forum – Shopping Mall – On a quest to find fresh innersoles for my new shoes. My journey eventually took me to a camping goods store where they had what I wanted, but again not in my size. Thankfully I didn’t have to take a bus out of town, but just across the street this time. I am officially back in business.
We backpackers absolutely must have comfortable, functional, and health-promoting footwear given how much trudging about we do on an ongoing basis. Whether a three-kilometer walk with full gear from a train station or a fifteen-kilometer hike in the countryside, we rely on the kindness of our shoes on a daily basis.
My advice to anyone doing long term travel is to get something that is lightweight, flexible and breathable that also has a reasonably good sole that will keep you from falling on your butt. Also, a proprietary innersole with good arch support add comfort and reduce fatigue. These can be purchased worldwide for between $35-$55. Socks that resist bacteria are essential. Merino wool and others built for that purpose are universally available. Camping stores are best for finding these, however.
Trip to Midsummer’s Eve Celebration
SEURASARRI ISLAND MIDSUMMER CELEBRATION – This is where the locals go who haven’t left the city for the holiday. Most take off for the country for some boisterous partying or just peaceful relaxation.
The scandinavian blacksmith who created my awesome axe pendant keepsake.
LOCALS ON A HAYRIDE
One of a number of traditional bonfires
The fire brigade stands by just in case
THE MAIN EVENT – This tree is torched as part of a historical wedding ceremony about to be reenacted by people in an approaching canoe in traditional costumes.
A young Finn describes the goings on while accompanied by traditional music.
HERE COMES THE BRIDE
They extend the torch at the end of a long stick
Bus back to Helsinki with the lads from London. These blokes are my roommates whom I ran into on the island, and who have stayed out ’til 9 am for the past two nights. These two are extremely dedicated partiers.
DAY TRIP TO PORVOO
CYCLISTS ARRIVE FROM HELSINKI
I don’t know the purpose of these iron pieces embedded in the wall, but I reckon they’re pretty old.
MAIN STREET – Filled with little shops and restaurants, but abandoned for the holiday.
An idyllic setting from which to enjoy my sinful treat in the form of a reindeer burger. Santa’s definitely putting me on the naughty list this year, but it was definitely worth the twenty euros and a permanent place on Santa’s shit list.
I wonder what this dude’s compensating for?
Meanwhile Back in Helsinki
KAAMPI CHAPEL OF SILENCE – This is one snappy chapel, and a place I would feel comfortable contemplating the vastness and grandeur of the universe without giving a second thought to the endless nonsense, violence, and persecution perpetrated upon humanity by the texts, organizations, representatives, and followers of organized religion. What a beautiful work of art.
Leave it to the Scandinavians to come up with such a fine piece of architecture.
FIVE O’CLOCK IN THE AFTERNOON
ELEVEN O’CLOCK IN THE SAME EVENING – It certainly motivates one to stay up until forever. I don’t think I’ve been to bed before 4 am since I’ve been in Helsinki.
A ferry heads to Suomenlinna island.
Suomenlinna Island and Fortress
Fortress in the distance and ferry dock on the left.
Some Remaining Artillery
The Kings Gate
A nice black & white
I think I like the black & white better.
VESIKKO – A Finnish Sub and converted German U-Boat.
Bunking with the torpedoes.
The view from bow to stern.
Bow Cabin and Bunks
Heading back to catch the ferry to Helsinki.
Now how did he get that picture of the boat leaving while he was leaving on it? Easy, just shot a picture of an earlier departure.
Finally a little sun on the stroll back to the hostel.