HELSINKI - FINLAND

Trip Start Dec 31, 2012
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Flag of Finland  , Southern Finland,
Monday, June 24, 2013

DAY 176–177 – 24/06/13-25/06/13 – TURKU – HELSINKI

Realising we had seen all we could see in Turku we pushed on toward the Finnish capital Helsinki. Normally bus and train travel is uber expensive in Finland with the average cost of the two hour journey between the two large towns running upwards of 70 Euro ($100 AUD), but I had managed to get some amazingly cheap tickets with the only budget bus company in the entire country. The only catch was that the bus would leave from another town some ten kilometres away. Just like a budget airline they made it a bit harder to get to but unlike a budget airline they did not even explain where the bus stop was. We were dropped off by the local bus in the township of Raisio and started the process of trying to figure out where the bus might pick us up from. We did not have an address but we had a picture of what the shop next to the bus stand would look like through Google images and so we began the game of "does it look like this". Eventually, after numerous consultations with the locals, we settled on the unmarked bus stop on a piece of asphalt ten metres away from the local bus stop. We had an hour to kill on this little piece of asphalt so we played a new game called “how many f**king nutters live in Raisio”. You would think with a name Raisio that literally translates to “rose”, the town would be a pretty place, well, you would be wrong. This town is where fun and good times went to die. Everywhere we looked were disgusting and revolting people who were drinking, smoking, picking their arse crack or wigging out on smack. Track lines, bulging guts, tradesman cracks and old s**t stretched and colour faded tattoos were key to these people. It was a bit of a who's who of the disappointment world, Frankston in Victoria or Logan in Queensland would have shone brightly against this town of scum.

Thankfully our bus did arrive when it was supposed to and soon we were on our way to the capital. Three hours later we arrived in a hot and stuffy bus, not due to the weather, but rather due to the driver’s insistence to crank up the heating even though it was a brilliant 25 degrees outside. From the outset Helsinki instantly looked different to both Stockholm and Oslo as it had more of a focus on modern design throughout the buildings. The other main difference was less aesthetically pleasing and it had to do with the Finnish people. This is never a nice thing to say but after having travelled through the “beautiful” countries, it came of a bit of shock to find that Finland was smacked, and smacked hard with the ugly tree. Fat is the new thin and pasty, greasy skin is the new healthy complexion in this county and if Sweden is the hipster heaven, then Finland is death metal heaven. Everyone from young kids to adults (who should know better) have crazy old style punk hair, obligatory Iron Maiden shirts and torn black or acid wash tight jeans. Most are extremely pasty white in complexion, have a smoke permanently attached to their lip, a bottle of hard spirit in their hand and have the look only the life of a failed teenage rock star can give you.

With all this doom and gloom about Finland it would only be fair to let you know that their city is actually quite cool. It has an industrial feel but with a very modern twist. The buildings are a mixture of art deco, 70’s style concrete blocks, all the way to newly constructed glass and metal new age buildings that would not look out of place in some sci-fi movie. The city has many new and old style sculptures and there has been a huge influence on the arts and entertainment industry that has rubbed off on the people, as everyone (when not drunk), seems to be some form of artist.

We spent two days roaming around checking out all the must sees in the city, from the new church, the Temppeliaukio Kirkko that had been carved out of stone and now provides perfect acoustics for the music played, to the old neo gothic buildings from yesteryear in the old town square. We also spent time outside of the city centre as Helsinki also has many beaches and mountains that allow you to escape the city in a matter of minutes. Overall, it’s a pleasant city that has everything that it needs to function, it just seemed to be missing those real big wow items, even though the people are big and most of them do make you go “wow”. 
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