A Helsinki Layover

Arriving in Finland from Bangkok was a slight shock to the system. Hello Europe. Hello infrastructure. Hello safe tap water without hepatitis risk.

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On my way to a historical walk through the old part of the city, I wander straight south down a shopping district kind of area with random shops and bars and cafes. A pub called Hemmingways catches my eye, because I am currently reading one of Ernest Hemmingways books, “A Moveable Feast”.

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As much as drinking at Hemmingways appeals to me, I trudge on looking for an interesting experience. Down the esplanade walkway through the middle of the city a tree-lined, sculpture decorated pathway is alive with activity. People chat, drink hot coffees,  and walk energetic dogs down the pathway. The afternoon is sunny and warm but a cool Baltic breeze comes up every so often. Clearly summer is over in Helsinki. Many students are out and about, and people are clearly on their way home from work.

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I stop in a bookstore and pretended to read Finnish magazines with all the Finnish people. As I look at the Finnish books and magazines, I ponder to myself. Who are these Finnish people, and what do they stand for? What do they appreciate, what do they eat? What do they wear? Where do they live? I can’t possibly absorb all the answers to these surfacing thoughts, but I always find magazine shops give good cultural exposure in reasonably short amount of time.

After some people watching,  a perfectly situated tourism office in the heart of downtown guides me to dance centers and theaters offering shows that evening. Wandering the historical district for roughly 2 hours and a 7pm dance performance would make for a nice cross section of Finnish culture in my 6 hour Helsinki visit giving plenty of time to arrive back at the stop for the  11pm express bus to the airport.

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The design district of Helsinki is peppered with cool artsy shops selling just about everything a cool Finnish hipster could want for their sophisticated flat.  An English production of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley plays at one theaters, but at 20 euros, I think I can do a bit better.

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Luckily I persist, and end up at a funky warehouse district studio on the far side of downtown. I find myself in a black painted square room in a warehouse-ish type creative building watching five characters perform . The movements are jerky and contorted with lots of jumping. The music is as abstract as the contemporary piece and matches the performance well.

Goodbye for now Helsinki.

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