This post is going to cover the part of Europe I have never been before, the part of Europe which is unjustly less present in the tourism brochures and very few people from south of Europe visit it:
The cold North.
I will share my experience of Stockholm, Helsinki and Tallinn. First one is deserved for my favourite Nordic destination: Suomi, aka Finland.
It may surprise you to hear that I have always wanted to visit Finland! It was one of my top-three destinations when I was a 14 year old goth girl. It has never been New York, Paris or Barcelona. It was Finland, believe it or not. I blame the plenty of metal music that came from this mystical Nordic country. I was a big Nightwish fan, always interested in Finnish language and the obscure but beautiful nature which was so omnipresent in their songs. Little did I know that my wish will become true ten years later.
First feeling that I got after leaving my plane just one week ago in the capital of Finland was kind of strange. There weren’t many people at the airport and the overall vibe was very silent.
If I had to describe the first impression of Finland it would be: solitude.
When I exited the airport I felt very excited for finally being here; yet this sensation was internal, it was mostly created from my inner feelings. The outside was still cold.
The next day I had a proper sightseeing of Helsinki and was very lucky to be accompanied by a local, an old friend whom I met when I was living in Hungary. I think that the best way to meet a new culture is to be connected to a local. My first official walk of Helsinki left me feeling very contented: although cold, the sorrounding was dazzling and very different from what I’ve known: blissful intact nature combined with modern architecture. It is like something you’ve never seen before. The buildings are shadowing the typical Scandinavian architecture, the white buildings and the windows without blinds. Interesting fact is that street names are written also in Swedish language due to the very numerous Swedish minority (more than 5 %).
The city has this little nature wonders right next to its center, such as fisherman’s „village“ (not a village but a stop near a lake) where local people as well as tourists come to enjoy a cup of coffee and a cinnamon bagel. I got to try the hot blackberry juice for the first time and it was amazing! I also tasted warm bagel that smelled like cinnamon heaven.
The peak of the day was definitely Suomenlinna, which is definetly one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.
Luckily I came in October and could enjoy all the golden colours of the leafs (as Finns say „Ruska“) and weather, though windy, was still not that cold to make your walks too difficult. On Suomenlinna island there is a fortress that is protected by UNESCO as a unique example of military architecture. It made me realize how many beautiful things were built first and foremost for protection but turned our to be the great architectural wonders – this fortress, Dubrovnik walls in my Croatia (built as a protection from Ottoman Empire), the Medieval walls of Tallin (protection from their eastern neighbours).
Well, I realize now that this post is slowly turning out to be a manifest so before we get lost I will give you a little cheat card, quick list of facts that were interesting to me:
- Everyone speaks great English! Thanks guys!
- People may seem cold and reserved but when drunk have no problem being very fun and outgoing, even in the full bus 🙂
- There is 15 euro sushi buffet! Yes it is not Finnish food, but unlimited sushi for 15 euro? I died and gone to salmon heaven!
- It is cold (surprise surprise)
- It is worth it! 🙂
Join me later this week when I will be sharing my experience from Sweden and Estonia!