The previous day Lilia told me to buy a 3 day public transit ticket (it made me save over 50$) and I made a list of the places I wanted to visit the most. I woke up feeling great and somehow immune to jet lag, made myself some eggs (thanks Lilia!) and jumped in a bus towards Seurasaari. Finding my way to Seurasaari was not so easy, and I asked several Fins on the way and I was surprised that they all spoke such great English and were so enthusiastic to help me out. I was told that 3 languages is a bare minimum.
Seurasaari is an island outside the city center that holds relics from the Finnish past. I was a little disappointed to learn that they didn’t have a Viking past and they only really appeared on the map in the 1400s. So there were no Viking stuff on the island BUT there was all kind of interesting things to do – the island is an open air museum where many buildings of the last 200 years got moved from around Finland and rebuilt on this island. The weather was perfect; a 10 degrees Celsius with a blue sky, the Finnish spring has the same beauty than ours in Quebec. I just walked around, did a picnic, talked to several Fins, took pictures, had fun playing with the birds (they are so used to food they just land in your hand if you raise it up.) Anyhow, everything was just perfect, simple and perfect! This activity is free and since the park is technically not opened yet and it was a Friday – I had the island almost only to myself.
Once on the bus heading towards the city center, I was looking outside the window and saw a nice beach and a huge cemetery. I asked the driver to stop and went to check it out – traveling alone allows you to take these spontaneous decisions and I love it.
In the early afternoon I arrived downtown and decided I wanted to do a more extensive walk but not in the historical center as I knew my walking tour the next day would cover this section of Helsinki. Walking in these neighbourhoods are a great way to see the Finnish reality and I walked a few hours and entered several buildings like the beautiful concert hall of Helsinki – Finlandia Hall. The National history museum is free from 16h00 to 18h00 and I just wandered around the city until then; there are parks everywhere and the integration of the public transport and bicycle lanes everywhere is outstanding. They have a weather extremely similar to ours and yet they manage to do perfectly where we fail. At this point I was starting to form a very good opinion of this society for a multitude of reasons.
The National History museum is really small, they are usually my favourite type of museums as I learn so much in them but Finland doesn’t have a huge history. It was first part of the Swedish empire and was seen as a distant land of lesser importance. It was later held by Russia and it is during that time that Helsinki became the city it is now. It went from a non-important region to a very important investment for Russia. They built a beautiful city as they wanted it to be the Russia of the West. The museum also explores the relationship of the Church throughout the Finnish history.
I was invited to a university exchange student party and I had to cook something – I did delicious chocolate cookies (I really surprised myself and everybody!) All the students live in those big student residences and so we just spent the entire evening there until I was exhausted. It was a great night and I love to be part of such a big melting pot of culture.