18. elokuuta 2013

Back in Finland

Finding your way in the subway is not rocket science.
Some impressions on Sweden after six weeks back in Finland. Or rather, impressions on Stockholm, which hardly equals the whole Sweden.

When I hear that a friend is looking for rental accommodation, only after a while I realize that my help is, in fact, not necessary. I’m not supposed to keep my eyes open in order to assist him in his project. It’s so great to have reasonably functional, unregulated rental market! (The Swedish market has been regulated since WWII, which results in a massive demand in relation to the supply.)

Converse shoes are not obligatory.

The men’s trousers fit better. But then, their colors are not as creative.

Men’s trousers notwithstanding, the city looks, on the whole, more colorful. There’s a variety of shoes, clothing styles, and hair cuts. There are various skin colors and ethnic dresses. (Due to the above mentioned dysfunctional rental market as well as to the higher public transport fees, Stockholm is ethnically more segregated and, as a result, there are more whites and definitely much more Western-dressed people in the inner city.)

When it comes to both clothes and composition, Finns seem somehow more genuine. There’s a larger heterogeneity and people are talking to each other or are looking around instead of playing with their smart phones. All of this makes the city more entertaining. On the other hand, people are hardly smiling. Are Finns genuinely so unhappy?

The tram is an especially entertaining means of public transport. But then I remember how slow it is, after it has fucked up my schedule a couple of times. There’s something to be said about the speed of the subway. (Using the Helsinki subway doesn’t require concentration, given that there are only three terminal stops.)

The bus doesn’t wait. It leaves so promptly that the 18th Prussians would have been happy. You also must remember to indicate clearly that you want to get on the bus.

Finland keeps on being a paradise for the lactose-intolerant people and increasingly so. It’s also nice to be able to taste the ingredients in the food, instead of just a mighty amount of salt. However, when it comes to proper sausages, this is a developing country.

Corner shops have a range of goods equivalent to smaller Hemköps, except for the meat. There’s no other meat than beef, pork or chicken. In fact, it’s not trivial to find chicken which is not cut in small pieces and marinated or at least slightly salted.

When it comes to cycling, Finland is in transition. The 1.3-kilometre long Baana in the middle of the center is a nice start but hardly comparable to the cycle tracks available in Stockholm, much less in Copenhagen

You must weigh up the vegetables in the shop by yourself. I’m sure I’ll remember this one once the cashier has made me to go back to weigh them up many enough times.

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