I thought of sharing my memories with you all when i went to Finland in 2006 for a week.

 

Before telling my experiences  i would like to say some information about Finland.

 

You all know that it is located in Northen Europe. It is a very small country compared to India with a population of around 53 lakhs. I heard that to increase the population

government is offering free medical facilities to the people including pregnant ladies. They also grant 9 months paid maternity leave for Women. ( We can't imagine even

half of this leave in India ). The culture here is little conservative and not like the western culture. People live in families. The climate here is of  extreme conditions.

During summer day lasts for more than 15 hours and during winter night is longer. The currency used is Euros. Nokia, the leader of mobile industry is having its head

office in Espoo and KONE, the leading elevators and escalators company is originated here and having its head office and a giant factory in Hyvinkaa. There are many

islands here around 450.

 

Of course it was an official trip during the month of July. We started from Chennai. As there is no direct flight from Chennai to Finland, we breaked at Germany. We

boarded Lufthansa Airlines flight from Chennai - Frankfurt around 1.45 pm on a Friday. I think the travel time is 8 to 9 hours. From Frankfurt we took another flight to

Helsinki which took almost 3 1/2 hours to reach the destination.

 

helsinki-vantaa-airport-

 

We took a cab from Helsinki to our Hotel  Cumulus located in Hyvinkaa. The car was Innova. It was suprising to see Innova as a taxi there . Seeing the dull black and

white taxis here that was different. Taxi driver was having the credit card machine also.He gives receipt also if we need.  The roads were clean with green trees on both

sides making an wonderful view. And finally we reached the hotel.The journey took almost 20 minutes.

 

The next surprise came in the hotel room. There was no A/c  and no ceiling fan but  only a small hand fan was there. We cannot imagine a second without a fan, nowadays

A/C in India without a second. But in finland you won't feel the heat and so you can live without a fan. One of my senior colleague said that when he went to finland for the

first time 10 years back there was no hand fan also. There was no drinking water kept. And a glass was kept near the washbasin in rest room.Even though the rest room was

very clean it was really difficult for me to take water from the pipe in washbasin.

 

The most difficult thing for me to manage in this trip was Food because i am a pure vegetarian. And there was no indian restaurants there and you can't find any indian food

like rice, roti etc. Luckily we found a McDonald's there and i used to have burgers and French fries throughout the week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sometimes i had fruits

and vegetables.I drank juices also. Also it is very difficult to find whether an item is veg or non veg in a buffet because the names were mostly written in Finnish. And for them

Fish and egg are vegeterian. My friends who had previous experiences warned me that when you order food say "It should be without egg, fish and meat". If you say veg food,

they will give a fish fry.On the last day we found a chinese restaurant and had noodles , some kind of rice atlast. In restaurants here (  I don't know about each and every

restaurant here,i saw in a couple of restaurants ) they serve wine along with food like the ice cream served here as part of meal. So for those who drink wine, they can enjoy

it at free of cost.

 

I have mentioned already in the beginning that the climate is extreme. I experienced it on the first day itself after finishing our dinner by 8. I couldn't find any darkness and it was

like 3'o clock in India. It was a differet experience.But the shops will be closed between 8 to 9.00 pm.  I don't know at  what time it became dark as i had slept by putting the

curtains on the window to make it dark.

 

Then we travelled in the train. I think the speed was close to 120 km/h. Train and seats were looking so good and we cannot compare it with our electric trains. The main

buildings we saw are the Finnish parliment and a church.

finland_parliament finland_train

Two main places ( Infact the only outings we had ) we visited during the trip was Suomenlinna islands and Hameenlinna Castle.

 

Suomenlinna islands:

 

market_square Suomenlinna-fortress_wikimediaCC augustin

 

 

Suomenlinna islands ( Sea Fortress ) was built during the Swedish and Russsian rule. .It was a millitary shipyard once more than 200 years old and now it is the most popular

tourist place in Helsinki. We took a ferry from Helsinki ( In a place called  )to reach the islands. The journey took 15 to 20 minutes. We saw some museums with lot of

weapons and arms, Suomenlinna church, a lake, tomb of Augustin Ehrensvärd, King's gate, a courtyard , some handicraft exhibitions etc. There were many restaurants also

inside the island.

Hameenlinna Castle


hameenlinna

 

I don't remember much what was inside the Hameenlinna castle but i very well remember how we went. We went in a train from Helsinki to Hameenlinna. Then a  marathon

walk to reach the castle. Actually we didn't had a guide and we had to ask people in the roads. One main problem here is most people know only Finnish language and they

don't understand english.So it was very difficult to ask the route from them.  Finally we found the way from an elderly couple to reach the castle.The castle was also very old

more than 150 years.It is situated on the bank of some lake. ( I don't remember the lake name ). It was like our museum here with many guns, swords, old monuments etc.

Before we finish seeing this,we got very hungry. So we left the castle and had food in a nearby restaurant and started our journey back to Hyvinkaa.

 

That's the end of our stay in Finland and we packed things to return home. Return journey was very tense for us because of this:  Our flight was in early morning, i think

it is 7 or 7.30.My colleague who had already visited finland several times said we can start by 5.30 as there will not be much queue in immigration.

We ( Me and my another colleague ) kept alarm for 4.30 , as usual switched off when it rang and slept. We woke up at 5 and shocked to see the time and we started

in a hurry. When we went to the immigration office,we were shocked to see hundreds of passengers standing in the immigration queue. We were very tensed and

the queue was moving slowly and time was running out. This guy ( who told to start by 5.30 ) was saying that if we miss the flight we have to stay here for two more

days and we have to book rooms on our own etc and left the place.After some time he came and told us that he cleared the immigration using his frequent traveller tag

and said he will wait for the flight. We got very irritated and we were cursing him.Time was nearing 6.45 and the boarding call was also announced. Luckily many

passengers are standing behind us for the flight. So finally they split the queue and gave priority to our flight passengers and finally we got the boarding pass.

Just 5 minutes after we boarded the flight took off.

 

And that's the end of a memorable trip to Finland.

 


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