Apr
10
2009

Helsinki Part 1

Chris and I had the opportunity to go with some of his colleagues to a “Festival of Electronic Arts and Subcultures” in Helsinki, Finland at the beginning of April. I have never before been a part of a festival of subcultures before. According to the dictionary, a subculture is “One culture of microorganisms derived from another.” There MAY have been other definitions, but I am choosing to use this one. There were definitely lots of microorganisms floating around in the brisk Finnish air during that week. Microorganisms armed with dreadlocks, MacBooks and thousands of electrical cords. I was almost swallowed up by one particularly tangled mass of cords near an exhibit.

However, since I am not actually an electronic artist, nor am I part of some sub-group of microorganisms, I was able to do a little sightseeing around the city. Helsinki has a strangely familiar feeling in the air to Minneapolis. Granted, they look nothing alike, but the sky and the smell of it made me feel at home.

The Helsinki harbor was beautifully fresh and still filled with ice chunks floating in the water.

The Helsinki harbor was beautifully fresh and still filled with ice chunks floating in the water.

Our hotel room felt more like a compactable train car from Ikea than a room. Every night we wondered if the next morning we would end up in a new town somewhere in Estonia.

Our hotel room felt more like a train car from Ikea than a room. Every night we wondered if the next morning we would wake up somewhere in Estonia.

The best part of the hotel was the toilet seat. How could you not be excited about using a toilet with a worm crawling out of it?

The best part of the hotel was the toilet seat. How could you not be excited about using a toilet with a worm crawling out of it?

Our first day there we came off the plane really hungry. We found a place that served troughs of food for under 7 Euros. Eszter, the small woman in this photo, ate the entire plate. She is a champion.

Our first day there we came off the plane really hungry. We found a place that served troughs of food for under 7 Euros. Eszter, the tiny woman in this photo, ate the entire plate. She is a champion.

Helsinki is a small, friendly city, with not to many tall buildings. Many of the standing historic buildings were built during the Russian occupation during the 1700s to the early 1900s.

Helsinki is a small, friendly city. Many of the historic buildings were built during the Russian occupation of the 1700s to early 1900s.

The Kiasma Museum of Modern Art hosted most of the festival's events.

The Kiasma Museum of Modern Art hosted most of the festival's events.

Architect Steven Holl designed the building. It has quite a spectacular entrance. And made me feel like I really loved Big Brother.

Architect Steven Holl designed the building. It has quite a spectacular entrance. And made me feel like I really loved Big Brother.

I spent an afternoon exploring the harbor, where I found this great little indoor market sitting right next the shore.

I spent an afternoon exploring the harbor, where I found this great little indoor market sitting right next the shore.

The market had all sorts of food and delicacies, but this particular item might have been its most delicate. Yes, you are looking at a chocolate you-know-what. And, no, I did not buy one.

The market had all sorts of food and delicacies, but this particular item might have been its most delicate. Yes, you are looking at a chocolate you-know-what. And, no, I did not buy one.

After the eye-opening experience of the chocolate covered "bananas", I thought it was best to go straight to a church. This one is sort of like the catch phrase used to describe a mullet except in a reverse direction: business on the bottom, party on the top. Most of the building is made of standard bricks, but it feels like maybe the folks who built the church came into some money near the end of construction and decided to add ornate gold crosses to the top.

After the eye-opening experience of the chocolate covered "bananas", I thought it was best to go straight to a church. This one is sort of like the phrase used to describe a mullet except in a reverse direction: business on the bottom, party on the top. Most of the building is made of standard bricks, but it feels like maybe the folks who built the church came into some money near the end of construction and completely changed the design for the top.

Coming down from the church, I heard a marching band in the distance and did what anyone would do: I followed them. Because for some reason, marching bands are like the Pied Piper. You just have to follow.

Coming down from the church, I heard a marching band in the distance and did what anyone would do: I followed them. Because for some reason, marching bands are like the Pied Piper. You just have to follow.

It turns out that all the pageantry was to welcome the president of Finland back from a trip to the gas station. Actually, I'm not sure where he was coming from, but there was seriously 20 minutes of marching around, then a fancy limo showed up, the president and his wife got out, the band parted and they walked 20 feet into the house. Then more pageantry ensued for another 10 minutes. I am pretty sure this whole thing was for the tourists.

It turns out that all the pageantry was to welcome the president of Finland back from a trip to the gas station. Actually, I'm not sure where he was coming from, but there was seriously 20 minutes of marching around, then a fancy limo showed up, the president and his wife got out, the band parted and they walked 20 feet into the house. Then more pageantry ensued for another 10 minutes and I am pretty sure that the president was not peeking out of his window to watch. I think this whole thing was for the tourists. Maybe Finland needs to start a war so their military has something to do.

We ate almost every lunch at the Kiasma Museum's cafe. It was shockingly good, as indicated by the incredibly focused look on Chris' face. That day's menu was leg of lamb. Tasty.

We ate almost every lunch at the Kiasma Museum's cafe because it was only 2 Euros for the artists. It was shockingly good, as indicated by the incredibly focused look on Chris' face. That day's menu was leg of lamb. Tasty.

I am going to end Part 1 of our trip by showing you a photo of what it's like to be me during one of Chris' art openings. The man is treated like a star and I could not be more proud.

I am going to end Part 1 of our trip by showing you a photo of what it's like to be me during one of Chris' art openings. The man is treated like a star and I could not be more proud.

Written by Laura in: Slide Shows |

4 Comments »

  • And part two? What happened during part two?

    Comment | April 10, 2009
  • Sister

    Sister!

    Very glad you are blogging again. And, fyi, you know mom and i would still have read it even if all you were doing was telling us your eating and sleeping schedule. We would have found it fascinating! 🙂

    I will write more in an email soon, but wanted to let you know I enjoyed all the photos (you can guess which one I REALLY liked! ha ha)…excited for part two!

    Comment | April 13, 2009
  • sarah sampedro

    Congrats on the new job! I’m glad it’s helping your life be a little more enjoyable. Can’t wait to see your big belly this summer!

    Comment | April 15, 2009
  • HelsinkiChic

    Hey,
    I stumbled upon your blog while searhing for “café kiasma” pictures.
    I’m happy you enjoyed helsinki, however i wanted to point out that the chocolate cover “bananas” -as you named them- are actually licorice pipes (as in what you smoke).
    They’re quite popular among kids, there’s nothing nasty about them.

    All the best,
    H-town girl 🙂

    Comment | June 3, 2009

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