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