Helsinki: Work Hard, Sauna Harder

June 19, 2017
Currently: Dreaming up my next vacation… Indonesia anyone?

The last of my trip went by before I knew what was happening. Early (really early considering I didn’t go to bed until 4am) we ferried into Helsinki. I missed most of the boat part, because I promptly fell asleep in the sun on a bench for the entire two hour duration of the ride. I woke up slightly more refreshed with another wicked tan line.

Luckily my parents knew I wanted to see Helsinki properly before I left, so we headed straight into downtown and make our own unbiased impression before our free tour. We stumbled upon the bustling local market next to the water. Starving, we beelined straight to the food. It was delicious, and not just because my hangry was flaring up. You could get all kinds of fish thrown on a grill with potatoes and vegetables.

Two heaping plates and a salmon on rye filled our tummies, and off we went to start our tour in the toasty Nordic sunshine. Our tour guides were unfortunately not Finnish, so my questions on the culture and mindset of the Finns weren’t really possible. But, I still got to see tons and attempted to capture the beauty of Helsinki through my eyes.

quirky art exhibit in the main square

 

so damn picturesque

 

she’s literally hiding from the sun
Finns couldn’t last a week in Colorado

 

 

 

Quick lodown of what I did pick up:
Saunas are a thing. Finns like to pamper themselves. Their motto: work hard, sauna harder. Every house has a sauna. Okay not really. That’s what they say though. Finns have a broader definition of “sauna” than us Americans. It’s not a room filled with hot air–it’s a lifestyle. Pools, lounge chairs, and jumping into freezing cold water. All things that soothe the soul. They love saunas so much they put two on a Ferris Wheel. For realz.
Awarded most honest city. These psychologists did a study where they asked Helsinkians if they found a wallet, what would they do: 11/12 said they would return it. Helsinkians weren’t surprised by the result…most were only left wondering who that one person was.
They got da smarts. People wonder how Helsinki survived WWII bombings. Fun fact: Finns used their brains and figured out when the planes were coming and shut off all the lights in the city while simultaneously turning on all lights on uninhabited islands. Those islands got bombed. Helsinki did not. I mean it did a little…but nothing compared to what could have been.
They like the rye. Rye bread that is. When you think Finland…you think rye bread. Oh wait you don’t? I didn’t either. But rye is their favorite of all food. And damn is it good.
Sisu is the most wonderful of all Finnish words. A Finnish concept, sisu describes their mindset: stoic determination, grit, bravery, and resilience. It’s that gritty white-knuckle courage that Finns most appreciate in someone. Go against the grain, think outside the box, and face adversity even when you’ve failed hundreds of times before. Like most things in life, too much sisu is too much of a good thing. It could turn you into town narcissist.
As our final romp as tourists, we took a ferry out to Suomenlinna, another UNESCO World Heritage site. A little island fortress, this cozy little area was overpopulated. Surprisingly not with tourists but with Finns! This is a super popular place for picnics and spending time away from the city. For the purpose of tourists however, it still serves as the Finnish stronghold that held off every single attempt at conquering. It was quaint and a perfect last stroll for our tired tourist feet.

 

 

This cozy little island was the last little bit to my trip and I’m sad it’s over. I’m happy to report that I saw all the things that there were to see in the time that I had. It was a great experience, and most importantly, much needed time in the company of my parents. I miss my family every day I spend in Colorado. I was so grateful to be able to spend two weeks alone with my OG travel buddies. Thanks for the selfies. Thanks for the hilarious stories, especially the one of your impromptu trip to Paris. Thanks for the adventures. Thanks for being the best parents a girl could ever have.

 

 

 

This ones for you mom and dad. I miss you ♡
Lots of love,
Lena

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