Does it still rock? Yup.

July 30, 2011

I figured before I entirely bit the bullet and moved to Helsinki, I should check it out in the summer time. I just got back from a four day trip (which felt more like a week, fortunately) to do just that. My conclusion? I think you already know.

My couch surfing buddy, Anne, was nice enough to let me crash at her place in Helsinki. I showed up on Tuesday night and took the 615 into town. Anne and a friend of hers met me at Rautatientori and we immediately got to drinking in a park. The park was a crackin’ scene, and I was feeling absolutely fantastic to be back in Helsinki. I noticed countless single speeds riding by on the bike path and was caught daydreaming about building one of my own when I get there. I glanced at my phone to discover that it was almost 10pm, even though the light in the sky indicated it was late afternoon at most. Anne and I headed back to her place in Kruununhaka and busted into the Medovača I brought from Serbia. After that we walked around the city until the sky was eventually dark at half after midnight or so.

The next day we walked around Kallio, which is evidently the hipster epicenter of Helsinki. Anne knows quite a bit about the neighborhood as that’s where she used to live, so she took me to this wonderful Thai restaurant, a bike shop, and all in all a veritable guided tour of Kallio. After that I went back to the train station to head out to Turku for the night. My friends Helena and Matt, whom I met at the hostel I first stayed at in Belgrade, live out there now. They picked me up from the train station and we immediately got beer and meat and headed to their friend’s house for some grilling. After that, we headed to a park by the river (where coincidentally some sort of festival was happening) to play some Mölkky, a traditional Finnish game that involves throwing a piece of wood at other numbered pieces of wood in an attempt to knock them down and get points, something like a mix between bowling and bocce ball. All in all quite fun, but I’m certainly not very good at it. We finished off (no pun intended) the night at a bar called Kuka, they had a foosball table. Now, I’ve learned from the many attempts at playing on Garlando-style tables that I should really just avoid it. The design is completely different and I’m essentially unable to do any of my signature pin shots, leaving me with a wobbly pull shot and a ball that slides around on a slippery surface. Somehow I got talked into it this time and totally dominated. I think it was a fluke, but maybe I’m getting better at this whole Garlando thing… However, if I find a Tornado table in Helsinki, shit’s gonna get real.

I said my farewells to Turku, Helena, and Matt, and headed back to Helsinki around noon the next day. I spent the remainder of that day exploring Helsinki a bit more on my own. I visited my beloved Ruoholahti only to discover that they’re expanding the tram system through it (!). I was in full freakout mode and walked along the entirety of the new track length. The overhead lines haven’t been deployed yet, but the tracks lead down to Länsisatama via the new bridge and look like they’ll be joined with another extension from the east in the future. I’m super stoked about those extensions going into use. I also walked around Punavuori a bit, I could certainly get used to living there if I can’t find anything in Ruoholahti. 🙂

That night we headed to this one club to see some Brazilian band. The music was great, and when the band stopped this DJ from Argentina got up on decks and started playing some house/Bachata/Merengue/Cumbia/etc. The dancefloor was completely empty, until, of course, we decided to get things started. We definitely turned it into a dance party with the greatest of ease. After things stopped there we headed over to Kuudes Linja to continue the dance party. We caught the tail end of a live set by Mad Max Mattel (video below), which was followed up by some disco/funk-infused electro, dubstep, and hip hop for the rest of the night. It was complete madness in the best possible way. We relaxed for a bit in a park in the broad daylight-looking hours around 4am where I learned that Helsinki also has a burgeoning moombahton scene. This city is mine. Gimme.

For my final day in town, we got some much-needed Nepalese (read: Indian. They call it Nepalese everywhere, but according to various sources it’s really not) food and hung out at a popular cafe on the water over by Töölö.

I had an amazing time. Mad respek (read: many thanks) to Anne, Helena, Matt, Helsinki at large, etc, etc, for their hospitality and general awesomeness. I’m hyper pumped to make that place my home. Listen to this tune to get a feel for what it will be like:

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