The Unconventional Guide to Finland

Like most countries Finland offers the usual fare for tourists. The country features numerous museums, art galleries, fine dining, European style casinos offering range of blackjack games, theatre and, of course, luxury accommodations.

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Finland also has a slightly less conventional side.

Nokia is the world’s leading manufacturer of cell phones and as a nod to the frustration that they often cause hosts a yearly mobile phone throwing contest. Some of the other Finnish competitions have included topless winter jogging when temperatures can be from -3C to -22C, and the Air Guitar World Championships.

While some of the more unusual events are one offs, Finland offers a wide range of events and sights for the more adventurous.

Stay in a Prison

The Hotel Katajonokka became a hotel in 2007; from 1837 until 2002 it was a prison.  A one year renovation project transformed the prison to a luxury boutique hotel, but because the building is protected by the Board of Antiquities, most of the prison has been persevered, including the exterior, the central corridor and the prison wall.

Some of the rooms are converted prison cells, usually two or three of the old cells with the walls removed. You get the dichotomy of the old cells with modern furnishings.  The Jailbird Bar and restaurant offers great food, but the menu and servers play up the prison motif to the hilt from their uniforms (old prisoner garb) to the daily specials. For the historically inclined the Uspenski Cathedral is nearby.

Get Your Entertainment while Sight Seeing

As in most European cities, walking is one of the best ways to explore Helsinki. However if you are willing to entertain and to be entertained you should consider the Karaoke Taxi. Karaoke is gaining popularity in Finland. The Karaoke Taxi is a 12 seater minibus with all the karaoke gear; lights, microphones, speaker and TV screens. You can chose from English language artists like Elvis, Eminem, Frank Sinatra or Lady Gaga, or try your hand at Finnish artists.

Stay Fit While seeing Helsinki

Nordic Walking is a popular form of exercise similar to cross country skiing using specially designed poles.  Tour guides will set you up with the equipment and take you on a nice tour at the same time. Nordic Walking is incredibly good for you and burns more calories than regular walking and works out more areas of the body all with low impact.

 

Museums

Finland or course has the standard museums and galleries, but also a couple of more unusual ones. The School Museum traces the history of the city’s school system in two buildings that date back to the 1830’s. Kiasma is a unique contemporary art museum. The ever-changing exhibits and collections usually focus on high tech installations and performance art.

Take advantage of a City Sherpa

One of the best ways to explore a country is with the help of a local. City Sherpa’s is a unique service where locals guide you and help you plan your excursions though their unique perspectives.  City Sherpas cover an incredible range of specialties, interests and tastes and you choose them based on your interest.  Their services are entirely free as all City Sherpas are volunteers, although buying lunch or a drink for your Sherpa is a nice touch.

 

 

 

 

 

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