Finland is rated the happiest country in the world and manages to make the top of the list fairly regularly along with Denmark which is second this year. I arrived in Helsinki in the early evening to find another good hostel waiting for me. Everything was as one would expect from a hostel voted #1 in Finland. The staff was wonderful and accommodating. The bed capsules were comfortable and well equipped, and the kitchen had everything needed for food prep. I was a very happy camper.
That is until the next evening at 11:30 pm when I was minding my own business and working on my blog in the common room. I was interrupted by what looked like a member of a SWAT team. He was dressed in black with various appliances strapped to his body meant to intimidate and dissuade anyone from arguing with him. He approached me and interrogated me in a manner that intimated I had committed an awful crime.
And what was the infraction for which I was being cited you might ask? As far as the hostel was concerned, I was up past their bedtime (11 pm), and he was there to enforce the rules. It was jarring like enjoying a sunny Helsinki day only to have a seagull drop his payload on your head.
Evidently, this hostel has had issues with people being noisy in the common area, so they hired security to ruin everybody’s vacation. This prison guard not only made everyone return to their cells, but he also took down their names and room numbers. I watched Schindler’s List just last night, and I half expected the tuppenny tyrant to ask for our papers and pepper spray us when they weren’t offered.
As it was, we were imprisoned in our rooms for the night in a kind of makeshift martial law, unless we preferred to spend a fortune on drinks in the bar downstairs. This is not the sort of policy I expect in a contemporary Finnish hostel, but more like the behavior, you might have found in a German inn circa 1939.
Unfortunately, a late and lengthy nap made an early bedtime an impossibility. So rather than tempt fate and have the possibility of really losing my temper with the fascist, I went in search of an all-night McDonalds at one in the morning. A half-mile later I found food, solace, and free WiFi to offset the antipathy toward my once loved hostel. An Oreo Mcflurry should put things right in the universe so I can return to my former Scandinavian bliss.
The next morning delivered something that would have been more appropriate back in California. As I begrudgingly entered the world of consciousness, it became clear that there was an earthquake in progress. The large capsule-style bunk beds opposite me were shaking violently from side to side.
The adrenaline kicked in and the increased alertness made me realize that my bed was absolutely still. Instead of the deep rumbling that would accompany such a severe temblor, there were high pitched sounds emanating from behind the curtains of the bottom bunk of the pair that were now increasing tempo. Then as quickly as the incident began, it was over as the moaning reached its crescendo. It certainly was more amusing and effective than the alarm on my iPhone.
Having averted disaster, I went to use the toilet and when I returned, found one half of the earthquake already sitting on the floor cross-legged in her lacy bra and panties preparing to get dressed. She made no attempt at covering herself up, and we had a lengthy conversation about art and the like while my roommate across the way slumbered in post-coital bliss. It turns out she occupied the bunk above mine.
The young lady did finally get around to putting some clothes on. First came a pair of small-gauge, fishnet stockings followed by a short, black, form-fitting mini-dress. It had all the trappings of some sort of strange performance-art, reverse strip-tease, that began with an obscured sex act that given the circumstances, made you feel as if your life was about to come to an end. I’m sure there are men who would have paid good money for the experience, but I am unclear as to what fetish category it would have fallen into.
I’ve been in many hostels over the past four and a half years. I’ve had loads of snoring roommates. I’ve had drunk roommates. I’ve had loud-farting roommates. I’ve had vomiting roommates. I’ve even had a roommate who urinated off of the top bunk because he was too drunk to climb down and go to the bathroom, but this was my very first pair of shagging roommates. It’s taken almost five years but, I knew the day would come. This hostel has been a veritable hotbed of intrigue.
SEAGULLS PAINT STATUES THROUGHOUT THE CITY
ESPLANADI PARK – Musicians in the park tune up on the right while a trash vulture hovers on left. Once again Scandinavian seagulls prove equally noxious to the rest of the world’s population of sky rats. They are pretty aggressive and likely to snatch food out of peoples’ hands as in England, New England, and the Baltics.
BUBBLE CRAZED KIDS
THE FINNISH ARMY DOES ITS MUSICAL DUTY ON A SUNNY HELSINKI DAY
EUROPE’S BERRIES – THESE RASPBERRIES WERE HUGE, JUICY, RIPE AND SWEET – DELISH
OLD MARKET HALL – For the best salmon soup, enter and take the left corrider to the rear. On the right hand side is a little restaurant that offers salmon soup for 12.50 euros. If the open-face crayfish sandwich is available, make sure and try one of those as well.
DELICIOUS FOODS LINE BOTH SIDES OF THE MARKET
MULTIPLE VARIETIES OF SALMON
READY FOR THE GRILL
FERRIES TO SURROUNDING ISLANDS
A FERRY RETURNS FROM SOUMENLINNA ISLAND
MARKET SQUARE – A DAILY OUTDOOR MARKET FEATURING A VARIETY OF TASTY FOOD
SALMON SOUP IS A TRADITIONAL FAVORITE AND SO ARE THE MOOSE MEATBALLS
A MAN IN A MOOSE HAT SALIVATES EXPECTANTLY
A LARGE PART OF THE MARKET FEATURES TRADITIONAL HANDICRAFTS, JEWELRY, AND CLOTHING
FREE WALKING TOURS MEET AT THE BASE OF THE STEPS
EVEN THE STREET LIGHTS ARE A SUPERB DESIGN
GOOD QUALITY SCULPTURE IS FOUND THROUGHOUT THE CITY
HELSINKI – DETAILS
HELSINKI CITY HALL
JOHAN LUDVIG RUNEBERG – FINLAND’S NATIONAL POET AND COMPOSTER OF THE COUNTRY’S NATIONAL ANTHEM
HELSINKI STREET SIGNS ARE IN FINNISH AND SWEDISH AND ARE MARKED WITH AN ANIMAL
NORDIC FLAGS – FINLAND, DENMARK, ICELAND, NORWAY, SWEDEN
CENTRAL TRAIN STATION
CARL GUSTAF EMIL MANNERHEIM – Voted the greatest Finn of all time, Mannerheim successfully led the defense of Finland when it was at war with the Soviet Union from November 1939 to September 1944.
KAMPPI CHAPEL OF SILENCE – ITS INTERIOR IS A WONDER OF PEACEFUL, NATURALLY-LIT MINIMALISM
A FRIEND ONCE REFERRED TO IT AS A CONTEMPORARY WASTE BASKET, BUT I LOVE THE DAMN THING
AMOS REX ART MUSEUM
THE EXHIBITION FEATURED FIVE NORDIC ARTISTS
Petri ALA-MAUNAS – History and Utopia of Landscape – 2018/19
Petri ALA-MAUNAS – Uncanny Valley – 2019
Miriam BÄCKSTRÖM – Advanced Cone – 2019
Miriam BÄCKSTRÖM – Psychopath – 2019
Scattered around the room on tables are books where you can read the story of the Trolls who created the art on the surrounding walls. Also featured is a small coffee bar and a piano that is being played remotely.
ELTON JOHN’S PIANO
Egill SAEBJÖRNSSON – The Trolls in Hellsinki – The Story of the Strange Exhibit
when the trolls first went to Hellsinki
Egill SAEBJÖRNSSON – The Art Works Are Constantly Mutating
Egill SAEBJÖRNSSON – See How This One Has Changed From the Image Above
Aurora REINHARD – Reclining Nude (Self-Portrait) – 2019
Aurora REINHARD – Broken – 2017
Aurora REINHARD – Artist and Collectors – 2019
Aurora REINHARD – A Happy Moment – 2019
OODI CENTRAL LIBRARY
LARGE SCALE CANVAS PRINTERS – 15 EUROS/METER
AND FINALLY THE BOOKS
GLASS TREATMENT CREATES AN IMPRESSIONIST IMAGE
THE SUN DECK
AMAZING STAIRCASE – This compelling image is now featured as my computer’s desktop.
UNTIL NEXT TIME, HELSINKI