The Cranky Ol' Bat

Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death! - RuPaul

2005-02-06

Places To Avoid Going To If You Can....An Ongoing Series of Opinionated Reviews.

Yes, I know everyone out there is busy telling you which one of the 13,489 essential Wonders of the World you have to see before you die.

I'm going to tell you a place to avoid going to instead. That way you'll have more cash for the truly worthwhile.

Today's cross-it-off your list special is: Finland.

Reasons for NOT going to Finland include, but by no means are limited to the following:

1) It is expensive as hell. Yes, all of the neighboring Scandinavian countries have qualified under that standard as well. But they, unlike Finland, have their charms. Read on.

2) There's not a lot of there there. Helsinki, the capital, can be done in a day...and you still don't feel like you have seen anything worth the price of admission. I love forests and the fresh, clean air, myself, but, quite frankly, staring at trees for days on end ain't my idea of a fun time. The most exciting thing you can do is stay in your hotel room, watching MTV or CNN, because the last thing you wanna do is go out and meet the locals. Which brings us to my next point...

3) The natives are extremely unfriendly. I haven't met a single person who has had the misfortune of going to Finland who had anything nice to say about the people.

The more charitable have said that they are just painfully shy, and some of them have pointed to an ancient "60 Minutes" story about tango lessons in Helsinki to make that point. For those of you who missed it....someone in Finland noticed that single people in their country weren't hooking up, and thought that organizing dances would be a great way to get people to meet. They thought that tango lessons might steam some things up....after all, it seems to work that way in Buenos Aires. So, the tango lessons began. The Finns showed up and learned how to tango. Next stop.....wild orgy? Not quite. The Finns proved that technically perfect tango dancing, when done with a stubborn refusal to look into your partner's general direction, can be about as passionate as double-entry bookkeeping. I kid you not. It was like watching a train wreck seeing these people dance......you were horrified by the lack of emotion, but couldn't look away because you couldn't believe what you were seeing.

Also, if you happen to look the least bit Nordic and don't come across as typically American, you are in for special treatment when you go to a restaurant or a store. My encounters in such circumstances in Finland usually began with the employee addressing me in Finnish. When I tried to explain to them in my Berlitz Finnish that I do not speak their language, they got pissed. Seriously pissed off.....as in "how dare you impersonate a Finn?" pissed. (When a similar thing happened in neighboring Sweden, the Swedes just laughed it off before switching to English. Some of my travel mates used that to good advantage to hook up temporarily with a local in Stockholm. That never happened to anyone in Finland. Take note.)

And the final reason you don't want to deal with the locals......they are notorious drunks. Don't believe me? Well, one time me & the Tsar were discussing various nationalities' reputations for alcoholism. With a perverse sense of pride, he challenged me to name a people who drink more than the Russians. I smiled sweetly and said, "the Finns." He sighed and said, "Yeah, you're right."

Look, vacation time is short and travel dollars are precious. Why go somewhere that sucks?

Better Alternative: Sweden. Especially if you can take a ferry ride through the harbor at Stockholm. If you don't see at least one little island with a house on it that you don't fantasize about living on when you pass it, check your pulse. The people are gorgeous, and there is nowhere lovelier on a sunny day.

3 Comments:

  • At 4:28 PM, Blogger half said…

    Rats. I always figured I'd like Finland. Then again siting quietly mumbling to myself while drinking in the forest appeals to me too. :)

    Seriously tho, Germans consider the Finns the most warlike people on earth. The Finns considered the average German infantry amateurs....

     
  • At 8:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ok, everyone has right to their opinions but very often those just seem quite subjective, narrow minded as it is with this case.

    Finland is relatively huge county (total area) compared to the population, so the country is relatively sparsely populated. The Southern part, the capital Helsinki and other bigger residential areas there have around 20% of the population (total). So the total population is 5.2 million and easily bigger countries have the same population in one city, (like the closest example of St. Petersburg in Russia). The more people, more bad apples too.

    One who travels collects experiences from different cultures and those cultures are based on history and facts as location and demographic statistics you should know as a "governmental employee".

    Finland is "new" country because of the ice age that covered the land area sth. like 10,000 yrs ago. It is also quite up there North - the whole country is above the same parallel of latitude as Alaska. So how nice it is in there? If you use stupidly one or two program(s) you saw on CNN and MTV as a relative factor (as a ground for your opinions) you should make this stupid comparison too: how nice it is up there in Alaska -to Finland?

    The Country was found in 1917 and was previously under Russian influence and before that, the Swedish. So the Finnish culture has taken influences both from East and West and what comes with the identity, more from the West: "Swedes we are not and Russians we don't want to become, so let's be Finns!", they said.

    So you visited there as a tourist. Fine. Once? You got your experiences and formed opinions. But cut the crap and bs so you don't influence others. At least if I should choose between Alaska and Finland...

    Finns do have this thing called education and nearly 99,8% can read..also in Swedish, the country is bilingual. In how many languages do you write your road signs?

    In Helsinki, the capital, almost everyone talks English and also quite well (it is mandatory language at schools).

    If you received bad customer service, you most likely came with an attitude. Russians tried that three times (1939, 1940-1945 and they were turned back. Not too many European countries (the bigger ones included) can proudly say that they were NOT occupied before and during WWII. Ass-kissers - Finns are not.

    Your "reasons not to come to Finland"

    1) "It is expensive as hell".
    It is relative. Are you poor?
    (for e.g. Sweden has the highest taxation in the European Union)

    It is expensive yes, but the living standards are higher than for e.g. in the US (free education and health care just to mention a few benefits).

    "The economy of the large" lowers the prices, but as mentioned before, the Finns are as small nation yet very competitive in all standards.

    "The economy of the large" does not always work, like in Japan, population of 24 times more (land area almost the same) than in Finland, a person, tourist too, has to pay like USD170,- to get from Tokyo centre to the beach. In Finland it is just under $2,- from the Helsinki city centre.

    The smaller country - more expensive usually (take Iceland, one pint of beer, twice as much as in Helsinki).

    2)"There's not a lot of there."
    At least like zillion times more than in Alaska.

    3)"The natives are extremely unfriendly"
    -yes if you're unfriendly to them "what goes around comes around"
    2nd time: ass kissers they're not

    4) "Tango - no passion". Passion my ass. It's a freaking dance! You may dance your Macarena in the Latino clubs if you prefer or visit a strip club if you like even closer contact.

    So DO travel there! GO see yourselves. My subjective opinions are not so subjective even when I've lived there for some years (also been in US, CA-LA).

     
  • At 10:25 AM, Blogger Kory O said…

    Wow, Anonymous....so brave not to use your name. Let me guess....you are Finnish?

    Ok, well, let me address your points one-by-one:

    1) So you visited there as a tourist. Fine. Once? You got your experiences and formed opinions. But cut the crap and bs so you don't influence others. At least if I should choose between Alaska and Finland...Never having been to Alaska, I can't compare the two. I have been to Finland....twice. And not just Helsinki, but also Tartu. Wasn't impressed by either place, and both times my experiences (and those of my travelmates....over 20 each time, since we were American students traveling to Russia making a quick stop in Scandinavia prior to catching the train to St Petersburg....) were similar. The Russians and the Swedes we had no problems with. Out of 40 different people, we all had positive experiences when we were in Stockholm and Russia.

    We were in Stockholm for barely one day (caught the ferry in, and left late that night to return to Finland.) We all wished that we could have spent more time there, instead of the 2-3 days we were in Finland.

    We got tons, and I mean, tons of shit from Finns. The Swedes and Russians we encountered told us that was normal behavior from Finns. So, who has the attitude problem?

    2) In how many languages do you write your road signs?Well, closer to the Mexican border than I live, many signs are also in Spanish. Closer to the Quebec border, and in the New Orleans airport, they have signs in French. There's also quite a bit of signs in Oriental languages in the airport along the West Coast.

    I still don't understand what any of this has to do with our supposed idiocy here in America. BTW, that point has been made 50 million times. Try something original if you want to insult America. It's gotten old.

    3) "It is expensive as hell".
    It is relative. Are you poor?
    I don't know what you consider "poor". But, no, generally under most measures, I am not.

    If you would have read the damn section in question, you would have realized that I said all of Scandinavia is expensive. The difference is that Sweden provided more value for that hard-earned cash.

    4)"Tango - no passion". Passion my ass. It's a freaking dance! You may dance your Macarena in the Latino clubs if you prefer or visit a strip club if you like even closer contact.Ok, so you've obviously never seen how it's done in Buenos Aires. Try asking an Argentine if a decent tango can be done if you refuse to look into each other's eyes, staring at the wall. He or she will probably die laughing.

    Dance is all about passion, emotion, and life. Otherwise there is no friggin' point to it. Have you ever danced, Anonymous?

    5)Not too many European countries (the bigger ones included) can proudly say that they were NOT occupied before and during WWII.Try Switzerland, baby. And Portugal and Spain. What's your point, and what does it have to do with anything in this post?

    Thailand was never occupied, either.

    What do all those countries have in common, besides never being occupied during WW2?

    You can have a far better vacation in any of them than you can in Finland.

    Look, this clearly is my own opinion. It's my friggin' weblog and I will post what I want. You don't wanna read it, you don't have to.

    I stand by my post, and add further that if anyone really wants to hang out with bitter, angry drunks with an attitude, go to Finland. If you want a good time, go to Sweden or Russia.

    Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, Anonymous.

     

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