Friday, October 28, 2011

Me olimme Helsingissä / Vi var i Helsingfors / We were in Helsinki

Finland only has flags out during certain flag days, otherwise the pole is empty. Most of the flag days are in spring and summer but there were two this month so I managed to catch a photo!

Also I thought I'd post a photo of a Finnish crow. Black AND white.:)

I went to Helsinki this past week to take care of some paperwork at the US Embassy. Here's what Helsinki looks like:

Driving in Helsinki is not fun. Which is why I wasn't driving. Most of the roads in the city are two way but then there are giant train tracks in the middle separating them. So in most places it's impossible to turn left and absolutely impossible to turn around if you miss a turn. Plus, some of the lanes on some of the roads are actually on top of the train tracks so you always wonder if there is a train behind or in front of you to watch out for.

Fall weather is almost over and winter weather approaches, snow has been in Lapland for over a month now, Finland is lowering the speed limits all over the country to ,winter speeds, and soon drivers will have to switch to their winter tires. It's already  below 0 C most nights and not much warmer during the day. Novita magazine already came out with their winter issue, while I'm sure in the US winter knitting magazines won't be out for some time. Fall colors here start out orange and then switch to yellow and then that's it. Occasionally there is a red or brown but those are quite rare. The birch leaves have already turned and then fallen to the ground, so now all around are bare bark birch trees.

After Helsinki we stopped by IKEA in Vantaa to pick up a few things while we were in the area.

I am always amused by the IKEA in Finland because everything is in Finnish and Swedish. But it's not exotic because those are the two national languages so everything is in Finnish and Swedish anyway, from street signs to food and drink, etc. I do enjoy the Finnish accent when they try to pronounce the names of items in Swedish. Also interesting is that Helsinki has it's own dialect and words that it uses so I enjoyed walking through the store and hearing those.

The first thing when we walked into the showroom that we saw was an IKEA sewing machine.

Don't get excited, it's not real, IKEA does not make or sell sewing machines. I got a kick out of it anyway.

Thanks for reading!

Helsinki/Helsingfors (finnish/swedish)
ruska - autumn colors
isä/faija (finnish/finnish dialect)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

You know you live in Finland when...

you have to buy your pants one size up, just so you can wear leggings and thick socks under them

there are more bikes than cars in your apartment complex

you see the brightest rainbows in your life, only because it rains so much

you get your IKEA catalog from the gas station

you are not confused when you walk in IKEA and see swedish everywhere, to you its part of daily life

you collect smurf points at the supermarket

you are excited when the library opens on saturday

cash on delivery is a good thing

you sms and get sms from everyone, including businesses and the thought of a phone call seems like a foreign idea

after you wash dishes, you place them in the cabinet above the sink

you close two doors when you come home

you dont go to the market for ibuprofin, but have to find an apteeki that's open

you drink Jaffa rather than Fanta, and eat at Hesburger rather than McDonalds

yarn is named after nature found especially in nordic countries like heather and northern bilberry

a bottle of listerine costs 8 euros ($11 dollars)

cabbage is the food of the month

you dont even question drink flavors like strawberry and pear

you define fall as when the snow starts and when the temperatures are below 0

the library doesnt have a book drop because the European Union forbids it

you can identify ice skating rinks even in summer

the baking paper you buy in the market fits your oven tray, because its the same size everyone else has

half the people you know are named Antti

you know the name of your city in Finnish and Swedish

but you still arent sure if its a town, city or part of some other municipality

you own a K-card, an S-card and a bonuscard and you even know what other shops, gas stations and restaurants are co-op'ed with them

you know the different between a market, a supermarket and a citymarket

your shopping basket has wheels

you never see a price ending in anything other than 0 or 5

you hear about a finnish celebrity, and by celebrity they mean tango dancer or tango singer or someone related to Iskelmä

you walk into a computer lab and your choices are Windows or Linux

every ATM is named Otto

you make an appointment for the dentist and the next availble is two months from now

and it only costs 18 euros

people bring their dog on the bus

you know what day of the week and time your sauna schedule is

the sky is dark blue and you cant believe how dark it is outside

you know whose ,name day, it is by listening to the radio

you can see a graduation cap and not think ,sailor,

you know what subject a person studies by what color pants they wear

a pub is not a pub and a restaurant is not necessarily a restaurant

your pizza is 100% guaranteed made by someone Turkish

Marianne is not a name, it's chocolate and mint

the only Halloween candy you can find comes from Germany and Italy

you see a giant panda wandering around the supermarket and understand completely

Hope everyone is having a great fall!