I am in Helsinki! Man I love this city. It is quite cool here right now. Compared to the temperatures in
Switzerland, which were always in the high twenties and often above thirty, the high today was only 16°C. It’s also rainy. Tomorrow afternoon I leave for Inari in the far north above the Arctic Circle. I just watched the news and it’s going to be raining everywhere in Finland except the far north. It will also be 19°C in Inari tomorrow, compared to 16°C in the south. I’m glad to be going up north.
The primary reason for my trip to Inari is to visit the Sami Museum, known as Siida. On two of my past trips to the Finnish and Norwegian far north, the bus passed Siida. I was sorry not to have had the time to stop in Inari and see the museum, yet this time I am happy to have made the time to visit. I will give Aslak Näkkäläjärvi, the Sami reindeer man who dropped in to the Romansch course last Tuesday, a call when I arrive tomorrow. I will fly there this time, first to Ivalo, a town to the south of Inari, and get the bus to Inari from there.
During the final days of my Romansch course, whenever we had to translate from German into Romansch, I also tried to do the same translations in my head from German into Finnish. I wanted to prepare myself for Finland, because I knew I would have to drop both German and Romansch like a hot potato and immediately take up Finnish.
It’s tougher than I thought. All I can think of are the Romansch words. My first stop in Helsinki was the main post office. I got some beautiful stamps showing ice breakers, transit vehicles (buses, subways and trams) and golfers. It was amazing that I got them at all. I opened my mouth and out popped “Jeu vuless cumprar…” ( = “I would like to buy” in Romansch).
I am staying with a friend of mine, Leslie, whom I visited during my last trip to Finland three years ago. She now lives in the city of Espoo (pronounced ES – poe) to the west of Helsinki with her husband Ismo and their adorable two-year-old son Otso. Leslie picked me up at the airport and dropped me off downtown so I could do a bit of shopping.
Besides stamps, I looked in the two main bookstores but did not buy anything yet. I knew from past trips to Finland that I had to compare prices because they are often different at Suomalainen Kirjakauppa and
Akateeminen Kirjakauppa. I will buy books after I get back from Inari on Thursday.
I did do some shopping at Kirjatori, a remainders bookstore which also sells greeting cards and postcards. I went nuts poking through boxes and pulling out all the birthday, Easter, Valentine’s and whatever-other-holiday cards I could find. Everything except Christmas, as I bought some 180 Christmas postcards from that place three years ago and I will be using them up in years to come. So now I have enough Finnish birthday cards to last until all of my friends turn 100.
Leslie lives on Kiveliöntie in Espoo. This word looks remarkably close to the Finnish word for “testicle”. Even her husband, whose first language is Finnish, gets odd looks when he gives out his address, so Leslie can be sure it´s not her mispronunciation that is causing the quizzical faces. Leslie said the equivalent in English would be if you said that you lived on “Tasticle Street”. Try it and see what kind of reaction you get. Leslie gets that reaction all the time.
I will write my first postcards from Finland from Inari. Now I’ll have a sauna and go to bed. I hope to do some music and grocery shopping before heading to the airport tomorrow.