I suppose I could say this summer hasn’t exactly turned out the way I had hoped. It’s not that I had elaborate plans or anything, but I had hoped to de-stress and relax and recharge. You know, what people usually do when they take time off from work. Oh well, life has a way of surprising you, and not all surprises are good.
Let’s just say that I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, re-evaluating my priorities, goals and dreams. I’m nowhere near anything resembling a plan, and I’m not going to moan about it here, either.
But I’m worried about what’s going on in the world. No, let’s rephrase that: I think the world is going to hell in a handbasket (to use an American idiom, for change), what with Brexit, terrorist attacks and populist politicians running rampant here and there. But enough of that. This is what I’ve been up to lately:
A staycation in Helsinki
The advantage of having two homes is that you can always escape one when things get a bit too much and spend some time in the other one. And if one home reminds you of work, a holiday is just a plane ticket away. Yes, this is staycation 2.0: go away and stay at home…
We often spend July visiting some of the wonderful British seaside towns and resorts. However, this year, Brexit and the ensuing negative attitude and even outright hostility towards EU nationals (I’m from Finland and Professor M is from Germany) has made us reconsider both our long-term and short-term future plans. And because we felt that we could really use some time to relax, we decided to spend Professor M’s last week of holiday in Finland.
|Esplanadi park. the polka dots are an ongoing art project.
So, what can we do in Helsinki in July? Given that July is the summer holiday month, there are mainly just tourists and die-hard city-dwellers around (everyone else is chilling in the countryside), which means that it is a lot less crowded (as far as a town of about 600 000 inhabitants ever gets crowded, compared to most European capitals, that is) on trains, restaurants, parks etc.
However, we decided to take it easy and do what we always do when we’re on holiday: not much.
So, there are walks by the sea, trips to the nearby islands, leisurely afternoons spent in seafront coffee shops…
And some architecture spotting, of course… which reminds me:
What is the difference between Art Nouveau and Jugendstil?
Jugendstil is simply what Art Nouveau (or Modernisme, as it is called n Spain or Catalonia) is called in the Protestant Northern Europe, mainly Germany and the Nordic countries. Yes, there are some stylistic differences, most notably that Jugend, or Jugendstil, is heavier, darker and more angular.
And why is this relevant here? Well, Helsinki is practically a case study of Jugendstil architecture (or, as we often call it, National Romantic Style), with over 600 well-preserved Jugendstil buildings. Which makes it a wonderful place for anyone interested in architecture.
And then there’s the urban wildlife…
Why did the geese cross the road?
Well, to go to the spa, of course.
OK, let me explain. There’s a park, separated from the waterfront by a busy street, populated by a lot of geese. But these are not just any geese but urban geese.
Yes, these birds clearly know their traffic code and do what any pedestrian does before crossing a busy street: look both ways and signal the motorists their intention to cross the street.
Of course, they also believe in safety in numbers. So, first they form a tight group, cross the street quickly in this military formation, then regroup into an orderly line and march to the waterfront with the determination of seasoned spa visitors…
And then there are the sunsets that last for hours… The nights are quickly getting darker again: sunset is already after 10 pm and sunrise a bit before 5 am. But I like the darker late summer evenings. And Professor M has been asking for years why we never spend any time in Finland in July. So, perhaps this has been a good holiday after all…
How was your summer holiday?
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