Saturday, June 22, 2013


Oh, Helsinki.  How do I put it?

I will try to express it here without sounding like a total jerk.  Because I liked Helsinki... I did.  But I felt a bit let down, I'm not gonna lie.  So many things that looked super-duper online turned out to be merely ho-hum when we were actually standing right in front of them.

First, our neighborhood--Kallio.  Hailed as the hip, gentrifying area, it seemed like the right spot for us. But it felt a little too spread out or not dense enough or, well, just a bit sad.  We hit a few bars--one with incredible vintage Pan Am decor, but didn't feel inspired by the patrons style or vibe.

How do I put it?  This should be where the cool kids are kicking it... but instead it looked like a bunch of Latvians (or is it Estonians?) outfitted in fashions from a suburban Marshall's (or is it Ross?) in Crapsville, USA.  I mean, Kallio is full of vintage stores... but who's buying the cool old shit?  Because no one was wearing it!

Swedes don't hesitate to share their generally held feeling that the Finns are a bunch of drunks.  (Yo, is that racist?)  And I really wanted to disprove that--really I did--and come back and tell the next Swede who deigned to judge the Finns in this way that I saw them writing theorems with a G&T in one hand or discussing opera over glasses of rosé.  But I actually saw them pounding shots, stripping down and jumping in fountains, and beating each other with belts so aggressively that I had to run into a store and ask for the cops to be called.  (The latter happened right outside our apartment.  What a nice welcoming committee!)  I guess I should be happy (or is it disappointed?) these shaved-bald neo-Nazi jerkholes weren't stabbing each other, as it first appeared.  I hate to admit it, but I was a little shocked at how rough some of the Finnish folks were.  And this was in Helsinki--their metropolis!

I find Swedish style (I'm talking about what people are wearing around town) pretty one-note and boring.  Lots of black and, sure the cuts can be creative, but no one wants to really stand out or take chances here in Stockholm.  But compared with the Finns, the Swedes are style stars!  In Helsinki, I found myself longing for someone in something chic, flowy, and black.... WHAT?!

I have mad love for the design history of Finland (I'm looking at you, Aalto and Saarinen pere et fils) and I know there are creative forces still going strong there.  But I felt like the younger designers or today's innovators didn't have much of a presence.  We explored their "Design District"and exclaimed many times outwardly, "Is this IT?"  There was a killer store showcasing tons of Finnish designers under one roof that was a highlight, but besides that the designs were either tired or dowdy or the brands were from other countries.  Pfflbt.  And "district" is pretty inflated.

I did like Helsinki, and I'm glad we went there.  The flight was cheap and it was a new adventure.  And the food markets are pretty great, too.

Anyway, here are some shots from around town.

Lovely boat bar/resto on the water.  Who doesn't love hanging out on a boat, docked or not?

The botanical gardens might have been my favorite spot in the city.  The grounds were great for a wander.  The plants were all clearly marked and there were tons of new birds to delight in.  What is it with me, as I've gotten older I've taken more of an interest in birds.  I have to keep reminding myself I'm not that old yet... but still... BIRDS!  Yay!

Creepy doll at one of the thrift stores we went to.  This was the spot where Keegan found this album that featured tracks from "Jews," "Gypsies,"and "Negroes."  Definitely racist!

The Nacho Jr. followed us all around the city.  There are corn chips on this burger, people!

Dinner at the lovely Ateljé Finne, which used to be a sculptor's studio.

Angry Bird gummies!

Funny stuff.

No Scotties allowed, apparently.  Definitely breed-ist!

Whiskey-flavored sausage!  Slim-Jim, you are slacking!

The local burger chain.

The view from our dinner table on the last night.

Cutie bar done up in vintage Pan Am stuff.

Bear imagery is everywhere!  They love their brown bears in Finland!