Posts Tagged With: finland

A day in Helsinki

Woke up early with great anticipation for our walking tour of Helsinki. We were met promptly at the cathedral by our guide Ansie (forgive my Americanized spelling!). Ansie greeted each one of us in the group. According to Ansie, Helsinki does not get many tourists due to its physical location being far away from the rest of the European nation and its close proximity to Russia. (Www.walkingtourshelsinki.com)

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Our tour began promptly at noon from the Cathedral. Ansie said that as a whole, most Finns are not religious. 78% being Lutheran, 1% Russian orthodox, and 26% have separated from the church. Since most Finns do not support the church, 1.5% of each paycheck goes directly to the church. Some Finns have chosen to separate from the church by going online to separatechurch.com and declaring their separation.  By doing so, it allows them to keep the 1.5% on their check!!

One perk Finns do enjoy is the law that says an employee must receive 5 weeks vacation each year. They work approximately 6 hours per day allowing for time off for other activities as well as family time. It is mandatory to receive 2 days off per month.

Speaking of perks, the Finns are the originators of the sauna. There is one sauna for every two Finns. Not only is the sauna beneficial for ones health, it is also used for socialization aspects. It is not uncommon to visit the sauna, drink a beer or two, and talk. Ansie said the Finns love getting naked in the sauna and it is quite normal. He said it is one of the few places say a common person can be sitting across from a CEO or someone important, and yet when naked in the sauna you are their equal.

Speaking of naked, we visited a statue known as the naked lady!

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This statue is  a symbol of Helsinki. Back when Helsinki had a conservative government theirs statue was commissioned from an artist. However the government decided they did not want to pay for it after all. So the artist pointed the lady’s ass facing towards city hall!! Quite a clever artist!!

 

Russia and Finland share a 150km border between the 2 countries.  Russia takes care of the border. Ansie  said men only are required to serve , 6, 9, or 12 months in the Finnish army. This is determined by an aptitude test. Finns are very peaceful people and do not get involved in war. They are confident they can beat the Russians as they already have twice before.  Upon completion of your service, you are free to resume normal life. Some join the U.N. And go serve in the Peace Corp.

While eating lunch, I gave this further thought. In the U.S. We are always putting our nose in other countries business and fighting their battles. This creates great strain on the country and forces us to have allies as well as enemies. And let’s not forget the economical strain and resources it takes to manage an army and fight. My curiosity go the best of me so I struck up a conversation with a couple next to me. They explained that Finland continues to remain politically neutral and mind their own business. The woman said they are always conscious of “big brother” (Russia) watching them. For this reason they do not wish to makes friends with other countries because it does not put them in a favorable light with Russia. They depend on Russia for oil, wood, gas and electricity. The Fnns need Russia, but Russia does not no them for anything. As a matter of fact, the Finns are upset that The U.S. Is bringing troops to Finland next week for training. They feel this will put them in a bad light to Russia as if they were trying to become an ally, while they wish to remain neutral.  As this couple were leaving, the man said to me he had one piece of advice “never trust a Russian!”

At the close of my day, I felt knowledgable about the people and their beliefs. Finns are a very mild mannered, kind people and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit!

Next stop Reykjavik Iceland! Safe journey,

Debbie

 

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Categories: lodging, Travel, Uncategorized, vacation | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Weather or not, here I come!

I live in a warm part of the U.S.  I am in Florida.  I have lived here most of my life.  I did not choose to move here, rather my parents chose it for me, back when I was a teenager.  As I grow older, I realize that I am bored by the constant,  warm climate the majority of the year.  I am tired of running my air conditioner 24/7 for 9-10 months of the year.  Further, I cannot stand sweating every time I open the door or attempt to blow dry my hair!

I long to see the trees in Autumn when they change colors.  I also dream of winter wonderlands!  And just like my thermostat on my air conditioning unit, I wish I had the ability to change outside temps by the turn of a dial!  But, the warm weather is here to stay whether I like it or not.

So whats a girl to do with all this hot air?  Travel!  Yep, I immensely enjoy my winter travels.  Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Estonia are some great winter destinations.  I get to put on my down-filled coat, strap up my boots, and cool off!  Winter travel has it pros and cons, but for me, it is all a good thing!  I have been snowed in during my travels to Iceland, and I have lost countless hours waiting for the winds to die down enough to fly.  I wear layers upon layers to stay warm, and traipse through snow, wind, and rain to explore my surroundings.   But all in all, it is worth it to me!

We have had our share of ‘cooler’ temperatures this past month in Florida.  I have loved the few drops to 50 degrees (fahrenheit) and the sweaters I have been able to wear.  But there is nothing like preparing myself for a winter trip.

In two short weeks, I will take out my wool socks, my winter boots, sweaters, hat and gloves.  I will pack my warmest and wear them all with the excitement of knowing I am traveling to far distances to explore people, places and things I have never before seen.

Has weather ever stopped you from traveling? Or are you an adventurist who travels with total disregard knowing what awaits you on your journey?

Safe journeys,

Debbie

 

Categories: adventure, iceland, Travel, travel delays, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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