Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hei Hei, Helsinki

Today I am in that wistful period of post-vacation nostalgia.  The late breakfasts of moulded salmon and soft wheat bread, the 2:00 p.m. sunsets, the long hours of walking and contemplating and drinking hot beverages -- they all grow on you after a while, like pickles.  In just a few days, both Lorkbk and I came to love this unassuming nordic city and its fishy foods, boiled wool crafts, warm coffee shops, and ambiguously located design district.  

I'm not sure why Helsinki isn't more of a tourist destination.  Perhaps the extremely short winter days and the extremely long summer ones seem unnatural to people.  But I will testify that, at least for a few days, they were an interesting novelty.   There's no snow and it's not even very cold yet.  I was much crankier tourist walking around freezing Luzern a few weeks ago than I was at any time in Helsinki.  Anyway, locals felt it was warm enough to leave their babies outside stores and restaurants while they went inside. (Unsure which is a better index.)

Food summary: I didn't get the opportunity to eat reindeer (though considering the season, this may have been for the best), but I did sample bear sausage, vari-flavored herring, and an interesting pickle-vodka drink at a Russian restaurant. Perhaps necessarily Finnish cuisine is packed with root vegetables, which, needless to say, is not so very exotic.  I found the cardamon bread and it of course did not compete with Grandma's; admittedly, however, it wasn't really a fair fight, since I just picked up a pre-packaged loaf for 2 euros at the local grocery.  

Lutheran Cathedral; Sidewalk baby; Russian-influenced architecture

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