Europe Trip, Day 4: Helsinki
OK, I must admit it. This is more than a little bit strange. I am in a place where everyone looks like me, yet I can hardly understand a word they are saying. At first anyway, everyone I have met here so far has been able to speak excellent English, so true communication has not been a problem.
Now I know what it feels like to be an American of Japanese descent who goes to Japan for the first time. Everyone speaks to you in the local tongue, and you have to sheepishly explain that you do not understand. It’s only natural that people assume you are a local from the way that you look. I think what helped to perfect my disguise for Helsinki was deciding not carrying around a backpack full of 15-20kg worth of photo equipment.
And i think I have been able to fake my way through a few brief encounters with shopkeepers. I grunt and nod, and end the exchange with another curt nod and a quick “Kiitos”. I think I’ve got the accent and mannerisms right too, the benefit of having grown up around a lot of Finnish speakers in Upper Michigan.
And I really have been enjoying the feeling of travelling light. It has allowed e to focus more on where I am at, instead of juggling ideas of what lens i should be using for a particular situation.
I’ve never been much of a wide angle type shooter, but the Sony NEX-5 with its 24mm pancake prime has started to change the way I shoot. I know it’s not ideal for all situations, but for this trip it has been just what was needed.
I’ve heard a lot of people say it before, but now I really understand it. Europe really needs to be shot with a wide angle lens.
Saori decided that she wasnot interested in visiting the UESCO World Heritage site on Suomenlinna, so I went there by myself in the morning, only meeting back up with her later on in the afternoon back in the room.
The island museum of Suomenlinna was a very nice break from the semi crowded streets of Helsinki proper. Compared to Tokyo Helsinki feels almost like a ghost town, but still, Suomenlinna was like taking a walk through the countryside in comparison.
After taking the ferry boat back to Market Square I grabbed a late lunch from one of the food vendors. Grilled salmon, small potatoes in butter, vegetables, and a beer. With my fuel tank once again topped off I went wandering through Helsinki.
In front of a large shopping complex I met a young Japanese couple who were on a year-long world tour. They were hippies through and through and were funding their trip by selling hand-made jewelry along the way. They had already sent 8 months in Asia, bouncing from country to country, and now were just beginning a three month tour through Finland, Sweden, and Norway. They said that India was so affordable that they did not have to sell any jewelry, but Finland is entirely different. But looking on the bright side, they did say that rice was cheap in Finland. I chatted with them for a few minutes, enjoying the fact that I could communicate again with someone in a language other than English. After that I dropped all the Euro coins I had in my pocket into their hat, wishing them luck on their continued adventure around the world. It was only later that I remembered that with the coins being in denominations of 2 Euro and down, I likely passed on the them a not so insignificant amount since most of the coins were of the 2 and 1 Euro type. No worries though, it’s always good to feed your Karma.
From there I found myself an outdoor bar and enjoyed a cold hard cider as I watched the world go by for a little while.
Observation: What’s up with all the Mowhawks I have seen here in Europe? Between Estoni and Finland, over he course of 3 days I have noticed no less than 10 or 12 Mowhawks, and not all of them have been on men! But, I guess it could be worse, instead of a Mowhawk, they could be sporting Mullets.
For dinner Saori and I went to a restaurant that specializes in food from Lapland. We had Elk steaks, roast Reindeer, Reindeer sausage, and winter vegetables (Potato, carrot, and turnip). A real meat and potatoes type of meal, all washed down by some rather sweet Finnish fruit wine.
I’ve enjoyed the food so far, but I do have to say, a little bit of rice and miso soup now and then would not be a bad thing. There have been quite a few Japanese restaurants I Helsinki, but I would no doubt be disappointed with them so I have stuck to the local food.