Once upon a time, I acknowledged the beauty of the European continent. When in Estonia for a summer school, we took the ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki with “Viking line”, because is “only two hours away”. Yes! I learned a Finish untranslatable word – “sisu”, that might be the definition of happiness. And the Scandinavian habit “friluftsliv”, useful now, in pandemic times.
Lately, I came accros many articles about Finland and I read that Finnish became officially the happiest nation, even though I thought Danish are notoriously wining that contest, weren’t they? Plus, the Finns are pioneers innovative educational system and in green technology. Are known for drinking the most coffee in the world, on average 5 cups a day. For swimming in cold lakes and than going to a sauna, or the other way around.
From other Scandinavian countries, we added to our dictionary useful words as hygge (coziness), lykke (fortune), lagom (not to little, not to much, just right), fika (coffee and cake break).
Sisu, in Finnish, is a combination of “courage, stubbornness, perseverance and inner strength” (DoR magazine newsletter). Could this be the recipe for happy life or succees, that humans have been trying to define since the philosophers of Ancient Greece were gathering in the Acropolis of Athens?
New York Times said the word is untranslatable and wrote “Sisu: A word that explains Finland.” Is a good start to understand the country.
Lastly, another word to add is “friluftsliv”, which means “enjoying fresh air outside, regardless of the weather”. Great attitude, especially during a pandemic when you need a boost and a strong immune system.
Helsinki walking route
The discovery of the stylish and laid-back Scandinavian capital started from the South harbor at the sea-shore, and continued until Market Square for lunch and the busy Old town or Vanhakaupunki.
Along the route, we admired the Helsinki Cathedral in the Senate Square, Uspenski Cathedral (an Orthodox Church that feels familiar) and Temppeliaukio Rock Church. Not leaving without making a detour to Park Sibelius to see the Sibelius monument.
In Sibelius park, right at the seashore, the main attraction is the monument dedicated to composed Jean Sibelius and my strongest memory from the walk. Is made from steel and it resembles more than 600 organ pipes.
Dressed with a Romanian traditional blouse, I noticed in the park and everywhere also many contrasts. The city is modern, but also honors tradition. Is surrounded by water, nature and green areas, but also has many innovative buildings. Helsinki is welcoming and sunny in summer, but I can imagine has a different atmosphere in winter.
Helsinki Mid-summer moment
Now we are approaching the longest night of the year in Europe, but the best time to visit Helsinki is in June, during the mid-summer and White Nights. I remember so vividly being in the ferry at 22 at night, surrounded by the Baltic Sea and a warm light. I was admiring the sun shining and staying at the horizon line and transforming slowly in the the most spectacular sunset.
My only thought is that I cannot say I truly saw Finland just because I visited the capital Helsinki. I am a great fan and admirer of Scandinavia and their lifestyle, so I guess I need to return to see other cities and explore some more, including many of the islands in the Helsinki Archipelago.