Tag Archives: history

The best parties during Finland’s 100th independence year 2017

2017-09-08

The Nordic country Finland became an independent nation in 1917, on December 6th. It had been the westernmost, autonomous province of Russia, and before that, the easternmost province of Sweden. The early years were tough for the new nation, and only after the Second World War, the country began its rapid development to one of the most advanced societies in the world.

Aleksanterinkatu, Helsinki
Finland is celebrating its 100th Independence Day throughout the year 2017. A dedicated web site published by the Prime Minister’s Office shares up-to-date information on events associated with the celebrations. Which event or party is the one to attend?

Here are some guidelines to help you plan:

– The actual day 6th December tends to be dark and murky in southern Finland where the biggest cities are located. In Lapland, there is snow on the ground and the Northern Lights in the sky.
– In September, Helsinki is cooling towards winter, but weather is often fine. In Lapland, hikers and trekkers have the highlight of the year as the autumn colors light up the landscape.
– In October, the annual Herring Market is a traditional big event at the Helsinki market square in the city center.

How Finns themselves celebrate their 100th Independence year?

The traditional way to celebrate the Independence Day in Finland is to watch television. That’s right. The highest viewer numbers each year are for a program that lasts several hours in the evening of the Independence Day. The majority of Finns are glued to their TV screens, watching as important politicians, celebrities, artists, successful sportsmen and ambassadors of countries who have representatives in Helsinki shake hands with the President of Finland and his wife (or husband, as happened with the previous president who was a woman).

During recent years, Finns have adopted other alternatives – in addition to watching television – for celebrating their Independence Day. Since the day happens to be during the darkest time of the year and often, during the murkiest weather, staying indoors is the preferred option. Having dinner and lighting candles at home, or attending a concert are a few alternatives to television.

Tips and advice for the best destinations in Helsinki and for understanding the Finnish culture and customs

A Concise History of Finland – an easy-to-digest history of Finland.
The Best of Helsinki – a travel guide to the capital Helsinki, features also local favorites.
The Lighter Side of Finland – an American author living in Finland has captured the essence of Finns in an entertaining way.
Lapland – a travel guide to Europe’s last large wilderness.
8 Arctic Seasons – an award-winning book on the delicacies and adventures of Lapland.
Spaghetti and Sauna – insight into Finnish culture and customs through Italian eyes.
Finnish Cookbook with Modern Flavors – a brief introduction to some traditional meals, and modern variations of them.

Ten things every traveler should know about Finland

2015-11-24

People who live in the far north, for instance, in Scandinavia have to cope with different environment than, say, people in Italy or US. This inevitably leaves its mark on local cultures and customs of each region. If you are planning a journey to Finland, here are ten tips that help you explore the country and communicate with locals. Otherwise, you may wonder for the whole duration of your trip why didn’t anyone speak to you or why did locals eat reindeer.
reindeers in Lapland

1. Reindeer is not the national dish of Finland.
In Lapland (the northernmost region of Finland, Norway and Sweden), however, reindeer is daily food. A few restaurants in the capital Helsinki have reindeer on their menus, and meat is available in large grocery stores. If you want to taste reindeer, here is a tip: try the smoked reindeer first. It is a delicacy that practically every meat eater loves. After that, if you are adventurous, try the traditional fried reindeer with mashed potatoes. More tips for touring and eating in Helsinki in this book.

2. Helsinki is the most popular tourist destination, but there are other places worth a visit.
Finland´s capital Helsinki draws the country’s biggest tourist crowds, especially, in summer. Visitors who are looking for natural landscapes, peace and quiet or adventures head to Turku archipelago, Lapland or lake district in eastern Finland.

3. Mobile networks in Finland have a wide coverage, and they are among the fastest and most economical available.
Roaming costs both for voice calls and Internet data are easy to avoid by getting a prepaid SIM card from a R-Kioski shop (it is like a 7-Eleven) and inserting the local card to a smartphone. If you want to find a free Wifi access point, look for a hamburger restaurant, like Hesburger or McDonalds, a shopping mall, or an access point in the center of Helsinki provided by the city.

uspensk cathedral in helsinki
4. Russian influence is evident in Helsinki, but don’t tell it to the locals.
Until 1917, Finland was Russia’s territory. Hundred years earlier, when Russia had won Finland from Sweden, the capital was moved from Turku to Helsinki. The new capital needed administrative buildings, university and proper infrastructure. That’s how Helsinki’s uniform city center around the Senate Square was established. Today, excellent Russian restaurants can be found in Helsinki, and plenty of business is conducted with Russians. A visitor should never question if Finns are eastern or western Europeans: Finland wants to belong to the west.
Read more about Finland’s history between the east and the west.

5. Midsummer turns Finland’s cities into ghost towns.
Midsummer is no ordinary fiesta in Finland. The sun doesn’t set at all in the north, and in southern parts of the country there is enough light to party through the night without artificial lights. The thing is that locals escape to the countryside and into deep forests to celebrate the Midsummer. Shops and restaurants are closed, leaving only innocent tourists roaming on empty city streets. If you happen to be in Helsinki during Midsummer, take a boat ride to Suomenlinna fortress or ferry to Tallinn in Estonia. Other places to visit are medieval town of Turku where an old castle stands by the sea, or the medieval castle in Hämeenlinna by a lake.

6. Leave your cheque book home.
The preferred way to pay in Finland is a debit or credit card that has microchip for added security (chip card). The only alternative is cash (Euros). The overall price level in Finland is higher than in Continental Europe, but somewhat lower than in neighboring countries Sweden or Norway. The price of Big Mac meal was 6.50 Euros in 2015.

7. You will not a see single reindeer or elk.
Reindeers live only in Lapland where it is easy to find them and photograph animals even in selfies. The only town where reindeers occasionally visit is Rovaniemi because they organize reindeer races. A large elk population roam in forests across the country, but you would have to be extremely lucky to see one.

8. Finland is a bilingual country.
Both Finnish and Swedish are official languages in Finland. This is the reason why street signs in Helsinki and in other coastal towns are in Finnish and in Swedish. Children learn both languages at school, but still, English is the foreign language that Finns know the best.

9. Finns follow the rules.
If you see a pedestrian waiting for the pedestrian traffic light to change to green, even though there are no cars in sight, you are looking at a local person. More than 600 000 people live in Helsinki . and more than a million in the metropolitan area, but the city is a safe place. In summertime, public drinking in parks and streets may surprise visitors, as well as Finns’ fairly natural way of dressing, but you should excuse them because of the short summer that they enjoy from the bottom of their hearts.

10. The top sights in Helsinki are not the Sibelius statue or Olympic stadium.
Don’t waste your time, but head to Suomenlinna (a beautiful island fortress outside the city), Temppeliauko Church, also known as the Rock Church, or Ateljee Café at the top of hotel Torni. If you have time, take a hike in Nuuksio wilderness (only 30 minutes from the city) or get an invitation (or rent yourself) a cottage by a lake and enjoy the summer the Finnish way. More tips in the book The Lighter Side of Finland.

Suomenlinna, Helsinki

Suomenlinna, Helsinki.

Free Ebooks for History and Art Lovers from Metropolitan Museum

2015-04-01

Many museums publish beautiful paper books on art collections, historical objects and exhibitions they have. Print books, however, only have a limited life span. When books become too costly to print and keep in stock, they become unavailable. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has solved the availability problem of old books elegantly: the museum has released books older than 50 years as free ebooks.

metropolitan-museum-freeebooks-sshot

You can explore the collection of free art and history ebooks here. Ebooks are available as PDF downloads, or you can read them online. Online reading seems to be more convenient option, because downloads are very, very slow.

We are always looking for travel tips, and Metropolitan Museum’s free ebook collection didn’t disappoint. For instance, book titled Al-Andalus: The Art of Islamic Spain shows many magnificent historical destinations in Spain that can be visited today.

metropolitan museum al andalus free ebook

The Brief History of Reading: from Tablets to Tablets

2015-03-22

A recent innovation, tablets, is a wonderful way to read books. Particularly colorful ebooks, textbooks, and comics that include both fun and useful images, graphs and other images really shine on a modern tablet. Did you know that tablets were the first book format when writing was invented thousands of years ago? A lot has happened between now and then, but here is an infographic that highlights major milestones from the history of reading.

history of reading, from tablet to tablet

Visual.ly originally published the infographic.

How Was Finland Created? Lessons from History

2012-10-12

In 2017, Finland will celebrate its 100th Independence Day. It has been a long and turbulent path to prosperity for this Northern European nation, but today, Finland is a stable democracy.

A Concise History of Finland outlines the key historical events that created the nation. The story of Finland starts from the early Middle Ages, and takes readers to the new challenges set by globalization.

Mobile Phone Success Story

2010-09-23

In the 1990s, Nokia outrivaled the traditional telecommunications companies Motorola and Ericsson by introducing innovative mobile phone products that allowed personalization and gaming, and by exploiting new technologies which created businesses that didn’t exist before, such as ringtones.

Once the dot-com bubble had burst and 3G licence bidding had driven the industry into a downturn, Nokia faced new competition. Microsoft challenged Nokia in software, and Samsung and LG in hardware. Yet, Nokia was thriving as the competition heated up. It wasn’t enough, because the biggest disruption in mobile communications was yet to come – the Internet.
Behind the Scree, the Nokia story
Was it the Apple iPhone, Google Android or mismanagement of the corporation that brought Nokia to its knees? Behind the Screen tells the Nokia story from a near-bankrupt enterprise to a world leader business, and provides background information on changes in managament.