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Finland is… weird somehow.

As is usual when you travel, you discover things that are very different from home, and things that are similar, and things that are almost the same.

In some ways, Finland seemed very similar to here – the people are friendly, but a little bit reserved as well, and they do like their privacy. You pay with Euros, and a lot of things in the touristy places are written in English as well as in Finnish and Swedish, so it’s not hard to find one’s way around.

Some things really prodded at our weird-receptors, though. Bakeries and hairdressers were one big thing. When you walk through a town or city here in Franconia, you come across a bakery about every second step, or so it feels – well, at least there’s a lot of them. Whereas when you need a hairdresser, yes, you will find a few – but they are spread rather far apart, and you might have to search for one for a bit.

In Helsinki, this was reversed. We found about one single bakery that was similar to what we would have here, and that was it – there were cafés selling baked goods, but nothing like what we are used to from home. On the other hand, every third shop seemed to be a hairdresser’s, sometimes a wellness or beauty shop something, and quite often there was a shop for evening and bridal wear right beside it.

Speaking of bakeries and thus, implicitly, cake, prices for baked goods were a real shock to me. You can get a small piece of cake for about twice or three times the money that will buy you a large piece here. Yes, in a café. Which means I still grin when going to the bakery after coming back home, as it is so nice to get really affordable bread or cake!

Lunch buffets, though, are a thing in Finland, and they are quite good value for money; buffets actually all tended to be good value, especially compared to the prices for single dishes or single snacks bought in the same places. And just like our guidebook had warned us, it was not so easy to get traditional Finnish food in a restaurant. We also were curious about the non-touristy restaurant-y traditional food – so we did what people living there would do: shop in the supermarket and buy TV dinners.


That was a fish dish with potatoes and a dish from cabbage, rice and minced meat. I liked both of them a lot, and they were definitely Finnish (at least the package promised it).

We also went bouldering in Helsinki, and that was another thing with a good dose of weird, as the walls there were… smooth. Slick. Laquered wood. Which meant that instead of getting some resistance when placing your foot on the wall, you’d get… nothing, except a squeaking sound. That, plus the many kinds of holds we were not used to at all, plus them being rather small and bad, and lots of reachy moves made it very, very hard for me to get up the routes. I did manage a few, but wow, it does make me appreciate our home bouldering gym a lot more now!


Shiny walls at the bouldering gym in Helsinki. Note the light reflection on the right side of the wall!


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