Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ten Interesting Things About Finland

1. Finland's population is about 5.3 million, substantially less than that of Israel. Its land area is 337,030 square km, over 15 times that of Israel, which has 20,770 square km.

2. Finland's official languages are Finnish and Swedish. Finnish uses some extra letters/symbols/diacritics in addition to the standard alphabet and is not a European language. This leads to the interesting situation of my telling my Norwegian neighbor "so when we didn't understand things, we read the Swedish." and him saying "but you don't speak Swedish either." True, but we were actually able to figure out a fair amount of what we read in Swedish and almost none of the Finnish.

3. Blueberries are called
mustikka and are very popular, though not very cheap. Blueberry pie, called mustikkapiirakka is considered a traditional Finnish food.

4. Most of Finland's trains are electric, but have diesel backup, because snow and electrical storms can down the wires. If the tracks are entirely unavailable in an area, the train providers provide buses for the shortest possible part of the route.

5. Many of Finland's trains contain a family car. On the family car, there are private compartments for families, as well as a children's area containing a mini-library, a small slide, and some other toys. Other cars on Finnish trains include the dog car and the dining car.

6. There are trains from Helsinki to St. Petersburg and to Moscow daily. The morning train from Helsinki
to St. Petersburg is a Finnish train, while the afternoon train is a Russian one, and vice versa. On the Russian morning train into Finland, they offer you two choices for breakfast - apple juice and cake or beer and nuts. Air conditioning on Finnish and Russian trains is spotty at best, and not all are equipped with windows that open. When it's 27 degrees out and you have a baby sleeping on you, this is unpleasant.

Almost everything in Finland is wheelchair/handicapped accessible. In places built before elevators were around, there are elevators that follow the path of the stairs. This is highly cool.

8. Because of the enormous number of lakes, streams, rivers, etc, there
are enormous numbers of mosquitoes and other biting/flying insects in Finland. They all think Kinneret is very tasty.

9. Swimming in lakes in Finland is very
different from swimming in the Mediterranean in Israel for a number of reasons. The one you'll notice first is the temperature. If the water temperature is 24, that's considered warm.

10. Public places, including public restrooms, including those at campsites, are immaculate.

And finally, a video on Finland:


Leora said...

Sounds fun! Your post showed up among my others in my Google Reader - I was pleased to discover there is nothing political about it. Glad you had a lovely experience. Sounds pretty - I would love to take the train into Russia, as my mother z"l was born in St. Petersburg.

Shana Tova!

Jules: said...

OMG they should totally have family cars in Dutch trains! I can't tell you how many times I've had an hour+ train ride and had to listen to some brat scream for the entire time. I mean, I love kids, but FTLOG, if they're not old enough to sit down and shut up, they're not old enough to travel.

harmelin said...

Interesting indeed!

LeahGG said...

Jules: I wish they had them in Israel. I have no choice but to take my son by train to Haifa every several weeks (for medical treatment.) I have no car and the treatment isn't offered anywhere else.

It's about 1.5 hours on a train. When he was nursing, I often nursed him for a long portion of the trip, but now that that he's 21 months old, I don't have that option.

I do everything I can to keep him from screaming, but I sure wish there were some books, a slide and some other easy options available. I also wish that people wouldn't block the area where strollers can be placed.

And, of course, that people who want a quiet commute could know to steer clear of one designated car instead of glaring at me like I'm a criminal for bringing my son on public transit.

Gila Rose said...


Also, what happens if you want apple cake with beer? is that allowed?

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Fact 11:

The #2 export (after Nokia phones) is the "Mouminim"

Gmar tov!

ilanadavita said...

Are you from Finland? I mean originally? Just wondering why you'd travel there.
I have never been to Finland but am a big fan of Sweden.

ilanadavita said...

I realize that my question is stupid since you don't speak Finnish. Still wondering why you chose Finland for a holiday destination.
I agree with you that one who can speak English understands a fair amount of Swedish.

LeahGG said...

Every year, there is a European Juggling Convention (EJC) in a different city in Europe. When it doesn't occur during the 3 weeks, my husband tries to go.

We went in 2006 to Ireland, and this time, we went to Finland!