Okay, I’m in Finland

With Reykjavik out of my system, I can finally focus on the new leg of my trek. So far, Helsinki rocks. I have already explored the city, had a kick-ass Indian dinner, checked out a few (shitty) art installations and had a private tour of one of the most prestigious galleries in the country (being a part-time journo has its perks!).

While Reykjavik reminded me of Quebec for some strange reason, Helsinki has more of a Paris vibe. The people are young, and the parks are cozy. I’m in one now. While Iceland advertises hot chicks, Finland delivers (apologies ot my wife for this, but I have to report the facts). There’s a bit more cobblestone here; Helsinki just feels more like a European city. I also see a touch of Paris in soem of the buildings, reminding me of those around Place de l’Opera. It’s not pervasive, but I’ve seen it in a few plces. Helsinki is its own city– vastly different from Paris– but it has a similar underlying spirit.

In some ways, Helsinki is like New York. As I wandered around this afternoon, I was accosted by some twentysomething do-gooder who was soliciting donations for UNICEF, not unlike the Environmental Action guys lingering around Columbus Circle. He had me in his sights, but I’d already planned my exit strategy. “Francais, English,” I said, before he could get a word out. I wanted to let him know that I’m not a local. “So, you don’t have a Finnish account?” I replied with a simple “nope” and was on my way.

I stopped by seven or eight art galleries. Most sucked. I mean, how many fucking ways can you paint reindeer, moutains and snow? I could bring Julio, Nelson or Ben here and rock the Finnish art world. I just might have to do that.

The last gallery was different from the others. It had both modern and classical pieces, much of it quite interesting. This is where I got a private, after-hours tour of an exhibition that opened only yesterday. I can’t say more, because I’m using it for an upcoming article, but it was fucking amazing.

I did step on art.

At one of the sucky galleries, I checked out the pieces hanging on the walls. They blew. But, I saw a back room and decided to have a look. Movies were playing on opposite walls. One was a greenhouse, the kind you’d see at Home Depot. Nothing moved. Stupid. The other wall had a video ofa parking lot. One car was parked. The other was on a lift (like you’d see at an outdoor Manhattan parking garage). The car was lifted about four feet off the ground … then nothing happened! Really stupid.

At this point, I should have known better, but there was one more goddamned room. In for a penny, right? It was a hallway with a lumpy floor, and textured walls, as htough someone put big boulders beneath the sheetrock. At the end, there was an angular, similarly “rocky” door. So, I walked the hall to the door to open it. It didn’t work. I quickly realized the hallway itself was an installation piece and walked off it gingerly. As if I could have damaged that idiocy …

So, Helsinki is off to a fun start. Reykjavik was great, but this should be even better. The best part? Dinner was only $30!

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