Monday, October 17, 2011

One of the great things about Helsinki is that even though it's become a hotspot of design and fashion and everything is that it's still got a fair amount of nature.  Helsinki Central Park covers almost 2500 acres and runs the length of the city and beyond.  This photo was taken a ten minute walk from my apartment.

I started feeding the birds that hang out in the tree outside our apartment balcony a few days ago.  Eventually I decided to try to figure out what kind of birds they are.  I was highly amused (almost embarrassingly so) to discover that they are called Great Tits.  (NOTE:  I have googled this for you so you don't have to.  I cannot be responsible for you googling "great tits" at work or anywhere else.)  Needless to say, there was a period of about ten minutes or so where much entertainment was had.  "Wow, look at all the Great Tits on the balcony," etc etc.  I was very surprised to learn though that these cute little yellow songbirds have been known to kill and eat bats.  They are, literally, killer tits.

Of course, this comes with drawbacks as well.  Our friend Lyndsey was on her way back from a conference in Turku via train when she suddenly felt a sizable bang and the whole train shuddered, then slowed to a stop.  They had hit a moose.  The force of the impact was fatal to the moose as well as the train's brakes, so they traveled to the next train station at some ridiculously slow speed.  Finns on the train helpfully explained to her that it is currently moose hunting season, so apparently the moose are plentiful right now and presumably eager to keep on the move so they don't wind up with two people congratulating each other over their corpses.

Speaking of animals in their natural state, I am going to the sauna with a couple of Irishmen on Wednesday.  Saunas in Finland are a big deal.  Lots of apartment buildings have them, there are public saunas downtown, the new main branch of the Helsinki City Library is even going to have one.  They're a way to relax and bond, which to my American sensibilities sounds fishy because according to tradition you have to be completely nude.  In the rural areas you're supposed to sit in the sauna for thirty minutes or so, go jump in the cold lake or roll around in the snow (again, nude) and then get back in the sauna.  I'm not quite sure what to expect, but I do enjoy a nice long, hot shower so maybe it will be similar.  Except for the two Irish dudes who will be in there with me.  But hey, when in Rome I guess.

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