Not riding rabbits in Finland

August 14, 2011 at 11:25 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

My first day in Helsinki, all I knew were two words of Finnish. One was kiitos, thank you, and the other is apparently the most offensive word in the language. That first day, I was so jetlagged that each time I bought a coffee, I was afraid I would get the two mixed up and inadvertently call the barista a particular part of the female anatomy.

Thanks to my fascination with inappropriate phrasebook sentences, I’d also researched ‘This gentleman will pay for everything’, Tämä herrasmies maksaa kaiken, but so far haven’t managed to work it into a conversation.

I love Scandinavia. I adore the isolation up here, the weather, but most of all the languages. When I stopped someone to ask for directions to Kaartinkaupunki, I wanted to hug them for allowing me to even say the word in the first place. But unlike the other Scandinavian languages, Finnish is not Germanic – it’s a beautiful, complicated, quirky tongue whose closest relative is its cousin Hungarian, and even they haven’t spoken in years.

Quirky is an apt word. I did some youtubing (apparently it’s a verb now) before I left Australia and blinked at the rather bizarre results; Finnish hockey mafia. Charlie’s Angels speaking Finnish. Weird Finnish guy freaks out while eating liquorice. Jabba the Hut speaks Finnish.

Then there’s the loveliest idiom about not being in a hurry, Ei olla jäniksen selässä, literally ‘not to be riding a rabbit.’ Add to that the fact that the World Wife Carrying Championships, the International Phone Throwing Competition, and the World Air Guitar Championships are held here, and really, how could you not want to visit?

I’m drinking it all in, walking kilometres each day and relishing the fact the Finnish drink more coffee per capita than any other nation. From the huge flea market down by Uudenmarkt where I bought a Russian punk T-shirt and befriended a mute blues musician, to the cowboy pub on Manneheimintie where I ate smoked reindeer washed down with cloudberry liqueur, surrounded by tractors, to the boats down by the harbour loaded with crates of fresh fruit for sale, where I saw a Finn in hotpants literally skiing down the street…every day gifts you with stories, if you know where to look.

And I do, believe me.


My only regret is that in all my research, I failed to notice that I missed Helsinki Rockabilly Week by one day.

Now that would have been something…all that Finnish gingham!





  1. Tom Beidler said,

    If you’ve accomplished this in the first day, you’re bound to have much more fun to come. I hope you enjoy yourself here.

    • inkymouth said,

      Thanks so much, Tom – and I apologise for the late reply, but I’m still on the road and internet cafes aren’t always easy to find! I absolutely adored Finland, it was even more beautiful and exotic than I expected. I will definitely be back, and next time hope to explore the countryside (and finally have a sauna).

      If only it wasn’t so far away from Australia, hey? 🙂

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