Life Lesson #49 – What Not to Do in Helsinki

Helsinki is just two hours from Tallinn by ferry. But, if you’re planning on making the trip, I really must tell you two things.Firstly, Linnanmäki, the wonderful-awesome-looking amusement park is really easy to get to from the centre of Helsinki.

But don’t make this trip unless you’re sure it’s open.

And, even if the big illuminated sign says it will open at 1pm, unless you speak Finnish you’ll probably miss the part that says the illuminated 1pm sign is actually for the rather-staid-looking-compared-to-an-amusement-park aquarium next door.

So don’t bother coming all the way back a second time at 1pm, because Linnanmäki is only open on weekends.

Secondly, if you find yourself incredibly disappointed because a wonderful-awesome-looking amusement park is closed, consider your move carefully before opting to make up for it by visiting a traditional Finnish sauna. Even if the Lonely Planet says it’s really cool.

Because it turns out that traditional Finnish saunas happen to be filled with chubby Finnish geriatrics doing laps in their birthday suits. And you won’t know where to look.

So, may I instead suggest the following options to fill your time in Helsinki:

1.  Have a look at all the odd communist-style buildings

These sculptures on the main train station reminded me a lot of Moscow. Which is interesting because Finland has always valued its neutrality. But visiting Helsinki I couldn’t help but notice that a lot of Soviet symbolism appears to have snuck in.

2. Check out a knitted police car

Kiasma Art Gallery has one in the lobby, by Kaija Papu. And it’s awesome.

3.  Eat real IKEA food

IKEA’s meatballs may be proudly Swedish, but the Finnish variety are surprisingly similar – in a good way. Engel restaurant, near the Lutheran Cathedral, makes particularly good ones.

4.  Become a Lutheran

This is what Tuomiokirkko Cathedral looks like. Need I say anything else!?