On the 24th to 26th of May 2023, we visited the Critical Communication World trade fair in Helsinki. However, for me, the trip was not only an opportunity to learn about the latest trends in public safety systems but also to compare my idea of Finland with how the country actually looks. Since we had two free evenings in Helsinki, we could spend them on strolling around.
So, what caught my attention in Helsinki? According to what I had heard before, there are no crowds of pedestrians on the streets. Some neighborhoods seem almost deserted, despite dense residential areas. Life mainly revolves around the city center, port areas, and the train station. It seems that most Finns enjoy their own company. The atmosphere in Helsinki is calm, and the traffic is limited. Maybe I was walking at the wrong times or in the wrong places? I also noticed a large number of underground garages among the new apartment buildings, which reduces the number of cars parked between the buildings. For a brief moment, I even had the impression that Finns don't use cars! But it was just an impression because the residents of Helsinki do have cars, and quite nice ones.
Finland is one of the safest countries in the world. In the city center, I didn't notice any police presence. Even for a moment, I didn't feel uncomfortable due to random encounters in an unfamiliar city. But what surprised me the most was the cleanliness. During two long walks, I didn't see a single piece of litter on the streets, despite a very small number of trash bins! Of course, here and there, you can come across graffiti, but overall, the cleanliness of the city is delightful. Upon returning to Krakow, I immediately went to a local grocery store and within just a few dozen meters, I noticed several discarded pieces of trash. How many papers and cups would I find walking through Krakow for a distance of 20 km? Clarification: I only want to compare Helsinki and Krakow; it's not like I count the trash on the streets every day, hehe.
The last matter is the knowledge of the English language. Already during the Uber ride from the airport to the hotel, the driver informed us that if we know English, Finnish won't be necessary. Indeed, in every shop, café, or on the street, everyone speaks English fluently. I could say that among the dozen or so people I managed to have a conversation with, the worst English spoken by a Finn was roughly at my level, haha.
But let's move on to the photos because traffic, cleanliness of the city, and the knowledge of the English language are just random observations from my walks. What I was primarily interested in was photography (and beer, but shhh!). During the two evenings spent in Helsinki, with or without company, I walked a little over 20 km. I visited places like Senate Square and the adjacent Cathedral, Uspenski Cathedral, the waterfront, and the historical building of the train station. I took quite a few photos from the quays of the Katajanokka district. Below you'll find everything I managed to capture, and hopefully, it's interesting. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of the church interiors as they are already closed in the late afternoon.
PS: And the Finnish language is unlike anything else ;)
View photos enlarged to full screen, then each of them will be briefly captioned.