Here I am, still at home. Still turning over in my mind the awe-inspiring places I’ve seen. Which got me thinking, what would Helsinki, my hometown, look like if it wasn’t home. I want to see Helsinki with a fresh pair of eyes; explore and discover it as I did the beautiful cities of Amsterdam and Paris and all.
Which is why I am currently living a lie.
This morning I set off after completing the following checklist:
- backpack with a big Canadian flag hanging off it
- my trusty broken travel denim jacket
- my ukulele of course
- eager wide-eyed Canadian backpacker face
Getting to the train station, I looked around with a slightly confused and disoriented expression for the information stands. I’ve had a lot of experience perfecting this expression. I “found” the stand and asked for a map of the city. The tourist illusion was now complete.
Seriously though, the ukulele never ceases to work wonders. I barely even got myself to the central station before somebody already asked to take a picture of me & my ukulele. What can I say, if I manage to bring a smile to someone’s face or to entertain, then that’s great! I’m glad!
Now, what can I say about this new, unfamiliar city of Helsinki? Let’s take a look.
That would be the first thing I see stepping out of the railway station. Beautiful start. Oh well, still staying optimistic and giving this city a chance, so on we march. I walked around, peering at my map, heading towards a central park. A circus happened to be propped up here and I came across these guys just casually hanging out in the middle of the city.
This place is wild!
The more I walked around paying attention to my surroundings, strolling, I started noticing how much bigger and older the city felt now. The difference between going through the city simply to get from A to B, and walking to see where you are and to appreciate details in architecture or the way the light spills through the trees is mind blowing. I suddenly found myself unable to stop snapping pictures of every street, building, and corner because it all looked so damn PRETTY. Buildings and streets are mostly decorated with carefully crafted carvings and lampposts, even windowsills, and all of these are interlaced with trees and greenery bringing more life to the city. The people are definitely nice and polite but keep to themselves. Then we get to the sights. Being a good tourist I went to see the White Church.
Yes, okay Helsinki. That’s gorgeous. The steps seem to be a popular hang out spot so I promptly climbed up (enough exercise for the week) and sat down to play my ukulele with the city stretching out below me. What a lovely spot. If only I wasn’t a tourist and could come here all the time… So that was the beautiful White Church, what else have we got?
Well, then there’s this. Is it just me or is that a massive, deformed statue of a man peeing in the sea? Am I supposed to feel deep artistic appreciation? There must be some existential message I’m missing here. If you figure it out, please let me know. These Finnish people must be out of their minds.
Walking through a market by the harbour I noted that most things for sale were things meant to keep people from getting hypothermia, or things made of wood, or anything reindeer themed. And fish! There was a lot of fish. I definitely understand the abundance of hats and gloves; it’s not a warm place this. Bless my big woolly scarf. I went on to discover cute little bookshops with couches to sink in to with free tea, people speaking to me in English (ha! fooled you!), and lovely paths to frolic down for the love of autumn.
Jumping into a pile of autumn leaves is always a good idea.
So my final stop was coffee, naturally. I had to do it Finnish style of course, so I got myself this mysterious creation.
Pulla. A bun that is kind of sweet, flavoured with cardamom, and topped with a disgustingly enticing blob of butter and sugar. This is what all the locals have with their coffee, rain or shine. As a baffled Canadian I figured, when in Helsinki! It was quite enjoyable. Maybe not the same as a fresh croissant, but still. By now, I’ve gotten a pretty well rounded Helsinki experience.
That was fun then! I believe I have a bit of a new-found sense of awe and love for my city… Just remembering to be in it instead of rushing through it uncovers a whole new beautiful world to live in. Apart from some exceedingly questionable art.
The adventures never seem to end!