Sunday, 12 June 2011

From Guidebooks to Carnival

When I began spending a lot of time in Helsinki, I figured it would be nice to get to know the city. So I bought a travel guide.

I started reading the guidebook eagerly. However, doubts soon set in. It seemed that the guidebook I had bought had the right cover, but the inside was describing a completely different city.

The thing is, I started travelling regularly to Helsinki in late October 2005. For months and months, what I saw of Helsinki looked like this:

Yes, it does say -20c (-4F) on that buidling!
 Yet the guidebook insisted that the city called Helsinki looked like this:

Page after page of  pictures of people, dressed in light clothes, enjoying the sun in parks, outdoor bars and other places:

Not a single picture like this:

Helsinki, viewed from the frozen sea
I was beginning to think I had the wrong guidebook. Had a bought an incorrectly labelled guide to Los Angeles?

Then, June arrived, and so did the sun. And suddenly, Helsinki started looking like this:

Park near Helsinki's parliament

The beach in Mustikkamaa
And yesterday, as Helsinki was basking in temperatures of close to 30c (high-80sF), there was... a samba festival in the city! So suddenly, Helsinki started looking like Rio de Janeiro:
Samba festival in Helsinki
Samba Festival in Helsinki
So in fact, the guidebook was not really lying. It was just somewhat economical with the truth, chosing to ignore what Helsinki looks like for 9-10 months of the year!

Still, those 2-3 months of summer can be truly fabulous, so I will try to forgive the guidebook. For now.


  1. That makes me think that if some day I get the necessary connections, capacities and opportunity, I should write a tourist guide "Helsinki in winter". Could be very interesting too.

  2. It would indeed be very useful. No kidding the guide said nothing about what to do in Helsinki in winter!

  3. A samba festival? That's awesome. I was the opposite way around - I knew loads about Kuusamo in the winter but wasn't at all prepared for the summer months.