today begins day 5 in finland! (excuse my lack of caps – i’m typing on my iphone) i am currently in the second largest city, tampere. Beautiful city with lots of beautiful old buildings surrounded by lakes with a river running through the city center. So far i have had an awesome time here! I stayed with a lovely woman, leena, in helsinki, and met up with alexis, a friend of a friend from seattle, who showed me around helsinki and was an awesome tour guide and buddy for a day! From there i peddaled 75 miles northwest to Hamenelinna where i camped at a funny little campground on a lake. Tourist season is definitely not here yet. Tourist facilities along roads and trails are boarded up and look far from being alive again.
Finland is very interesting! Scandanavia meets russia i think is how i would best describe it – though i’ve been to neither place! Home of marimekko – alexis and i happened upon a marimekko store in helsinki: heaven on fabric! Design mecca, but also a bit dreary in places. The people are very friendly once engaged, but casual hellos, smiles and eye contact aren’t in abundance. I’ve also spent 4 of 5 days in large cities, so this could be part of it too.
Foodwise, rye bread is king! But not like i’ve had before. Small slices or dense, lightly leavened ‘buns,’ for lack of a better word, that are usually eaten open faced with margarine, lettuce, cheese, meat (salami, lox – the best i’ve ever had!), and traditionally, cucumber, tomato and red pepper. Really delicious, simple and fairly healthy.
Restaurants are the two extremes – either order at the counter or fine dining and quite expensive. In tampere pizza and kabob places (in one restaurant) are some of the only restaurants to get a cheap meal for around 6€. I had a very interesting ‘kabob’ last night for dinner. I’ll try to insert a pic.
One more interesting thing. There are these great department stores in the city center that sell designer clothing, appliances and food in a huge 6 story store taking up one entire city block. Nordstom meets sears meets whole foods! I am across the street from one right now and plan on stocking up for today and tomorrow when i finish my coffee!
Today i am meeting a new couchsurfing host who live on a lake and is taking me for a paddle around the lake! I, unfortuately, underestimated the intensity of the northern sun yesterday and got really burnt on my bike ride! With the wind keeping me cool i had no idea how hot it really was. Oops!
Off for more fun! Yay finland!!!