Why is Helsinki famous

Helsinki: Welcome to Sisu Land

They adore musicians in rubber masks, compete in playing air guitar and taking a sauna. Strange? "Sure, this is Finland!" Said the German novel Schatz about his adopted home, where he is famous as a TV presenter. He shows our author Andreas Lesti Helsinki, where almost nothing is completely normal - or almost everything

Preference for the out-of-the-way

On warm summer days, there are mainly three types of people in Helsinki: young, blonde women with very large sunglasses, older business people in cheap suits and cruise tourists with beeping digital cameras. But if you look a little longer, you will discover the others too: the eccentrics and the madmen. Skateboarders wearing neon-colored caps circle around the station square; the open space in the middle belongs to breakdancers who turn on their heads - figures like those from the music videos of the eighties. At the academic bookstore at the Kämp Gallery, someone walks past with a motorcycle helmet on their head, as if this were the most normal thing in the world for a walker.

Preference for the out-of-the-way

In the park on Esplanadi, Helsinki's boulevard, guys with long hair and leather vests bawl as if they belonged to the Lordi band. The "horror rockers" who appear in monster disguise have won the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest. That is why Helsinki will host the competition for the first time, in May 2007. A premiere that the whole country is proud of. In the bookstore's window is "From Finland with Love", a book about the essence of the Finns. "Get drunk with the Finns, go to their saunas, jump into their lakes, eat their food, learn their language, sleep with them. And see where it takes you." That's how it ends. It's been in the country's top ten bestseller list for more than a year, currently at number eight. When it came out, it was number one for two months - ahead of works by Dan Brown and Henning Mankell. It has been sold more than 20,000 times, and every 200th Finn has a copy. It was written by Roman Schatz, a German who became an expert on Finns and an expert on their penchant for the out-of-the-way.

Without carnation and Kalashnikov

"At eleven o'clock on Senate Square, under the Tsar's Monument," we will meet Roman Schatz, he will show us the city - that's what we agreed. With a loud laugh he had added on the phone: "Identification marks are a Kalashnikov and a red carnation."

Even without Carnation and Kalashnikov, Roman Schatz immediately stands out among tourists and locals. He is remarkably charming, tall, handsome, a bit like James Bond - a personable man in his forties. A Finnish women's magazine put him on the list of the "Sexiest Men of Finland" together with a rock star in a monster mask and the Minister of the Interior. Schatz has obviously seen a lot, laughed a lot, drank a lot, smoked a lot: rims under the eyes, wrinkles around them, gray beard, in the left hand a box of Pall Mall, in the right hand a pair of Prada sunglasses - a bit weird and diabolical. Let's see where he's taking us: "Hello, Mr. darling."

He is a media professional. You can tell that he moderates TV shows and expresses himself very pointedly in interviews on all kinds of topics. He is well prepared, after all, he should not only explain the city to us, but best of all Finland. While we are strolling across the cathedral square and then jostling past tourists across the Kauppatori market, he begins to chat about the residents' first peculiarities. Her language: "There is no gender distinction, no future tense and no word for 'please' in Finnish. That says a lot about the nature of people." Men and women are at least grammatically equal, whoever wants something has no way of becoming a supplicant. And what will happen tomorrow remains unnamed.

Typically Finnish

His phone rings in front of a stall selling reindeer skins. Schatz shrugs apologetically and switches seamlessly from German to Finnish. And what he says sounds pretty much the same as he parodies Finnish in his book: "Näyttää, Naytättää, Nayttäytyä, Nayttäytyttää, Nayttäytyttäytyä, Nayttäytyttäytyttää... You can combine syllables as you wish, and it still makes sense." The language sounds "like a psychedelic drug".

We walk along the Baltic Sea to the Katajanokka Peninsula. As we cross the street, an overweight man is cycling past wearing nothing more than swimming trunks. "Typically Finnish," comments Schatz and laughs. We come to the pier on the north bank, where the icebreakers take their summer sleep. One of the huge ships is called "Sisu", a kind of magic word in Finnish. It means "stamina", but it also stands for the special Finnish mentality as a whole. "Sisu is the reason why a Finn voluntarily drives 50 kilometers through the area on cross-country skis on a Sunday afternoon at minus 30 degrees and then sits in the sauna a little longer than everyone else," says Schatz.

Europe has Finland

Sisu also explains why Finland hosts a sauna and an air guitar world championship, why there are championships in cell phones and rubber boot throwing, and how far you carry your wife across a field or how long you sit naked on an anthill can. The first sentence in Roman Schatz's bestseller is: "Russia has Siberia, the US has Alaska, and Europe has Finland." The enigmatic north country.

We walk through the park up to the observatory mountain and gradually the view of the harbor basin and the islands in the Baltic Sea opens up. The passenger ship "Mariella", with which Roman Schatz arrived in Helsinki in 1986, is currently docking. After studying German and Romance languages ​​in Konstanz and Berlin, he followed a Finnish blonde to Helsinki head over heels. "I had a guitar and 800 Swiss francs with me, nothing more."

The first time was interesting, turbulent, successful, painful and he definitely didn't want to miss it. He was in love and learned his girlfriend's language by watching "Die Schwarzwaldklinik" with subtitles on television. Schatz shakes her head, grins and says: "I actually learned replicas from Doctor Brinkmann by heart."

Educational television for Finns

There is a colorful mix of people in the park: housewives in leggings, men in agent trench coats, rockers, travelers with backpacks and students with notebooks. A confusing fashion mix: in addition to the eighties look, a bit of Eastern bloc retro chic and international urban style. The styles reflect the different influences to which the country is exposed: the proximity to Russia, globalization and the grandiose economic boom triggered by the success of the electronics company Nokia. The country is changing drastically. Schatz says: "When I arrived there weren't any cocktail bars. Anyone who ordered a martini was viewed in a big way. Now everyone drinks whiskey and goes snowboarding instead of cross-country skiing." In front of the "Café Strindberg" stands a singer with a small portable radio and belts out Eric Clapton's hit "L - l-leila!" On almost every street corner, either a string quartet plays polka or a cellist plays suites. Surrounded by music, we walk towards the freight port.

Roman Schatz ’first job in the new home was to write Finnish-German language books and school books. When he offered himself to Finnish radio and television as an intermediary between Finland and Germany, those responsible succumbed to his charm and his career rose sharply: He produced and shot the twelve-part educational program "This is Germany". Then he led through "A for Austria" and "In search of Switzerland" - in German, although he already spoke Finnish without an accent. He has been moderating in the national language since 2001.

"Other people's television" was the name of Schatz ’first Finnish program. He describes it as "the milestone in my popularity". He presented bizarre television programs from all over the world: a talk show from Sudan, a political satire from Azerbaijan, a cooking program from China in which snakes are prepared - as a kind of Oliver Kalkofe from Finland, Schatz met the taste of an eccentric majority. Books followed, alongside "From Finland With Love" "Rakasta Minut", which further increased his popularity. He is currently working on a literary "road trip through Europe" entitled "€". Thoughtfully, Schatz says: "It was always my dream to become famous as a writer. It's funny that it worked out in Finland of all places."

While we stroll through the Russian market at the freight port, hawkers offer us babushkas and plastic toys. They have serious faces and are dressed like residents of a remote village. Gradually one ceases to be surprised to meet her in the center of a European metropolis. Schatz says: "That was not at all clear to me at the beginning, but a Western European with somewhat normal social behavior, and one who does not drink, is something special here." He laughs briefly at the evil sentence and says: "Let's meet at 11 p.m. in the 'Theaterbar'. You can understand that even better."

Flirt in Finnish

There is a lot going on in the "Theaterbar" at 11pm. The name is misleading, because "Theaterbar" is the name of this mixture of bar, lounge and disco only because it is located at the back of the Swedish Theater. Well-dressed young women and tall young men, who drink a lot and drink quickly, lean against the counter. Some guests look straight ahead and are silent. We watch two beautiful blondes invest a small fortune in a tray full of booze. Roman Schatz leans over: "You should never tell Finnish women that they are pretty. You have to tell them that they are strong and intelligent, they can do something with that." A little later, four tree-sized men order the fifth, sixth, and seventh round of beer. This goes on all night long. At three, most of them seem very drunk. But still nobody cares seriously about the opposite sex.

Don't Finns flirt? "Yes, but they need fewer gestures to communicate. You are friendly by leaving people alone," says Schatz. "And anyway, things are very different here than with this German Kantian ping-pong with words. The Finns don't play ping-pong, they prefer bowling." That means: When something is said, it always comes down to the essentials: "Are you hungry, are you thirsty, should I give you a blow job?" Schatz is direct, ruthless and breaks one or the other taboo: That too is what makes him so popular.

But as the actual answer to the question about flirting behavior, Roman Schatz leans back with relish and says: "Wait until 3.30 am." And lets you ponder for half an hour about what's going to happen in the "theater bar". The calm before the storm prevails. And then, at precisely 3:30 a.m., the light goes on briefly. "Valomerkki," says Schatz, "the sign that alcohol is over and the bar will close at four o'clock. From now on, there is only half an hour to maintain personal contacts." He grins. Outside the first light of the new day shimmers. And inside - no, that would be indiscreet. In any case, a long line forms at the taxi stand shortly after four and gradually, vehicle after vehicle, including ours, disappears into the haze. Let's see where it takes us.

Instructions for use for Finland

Created by Roman Schatz, who guided our author around Helsinki

1. The top rule when entering a Finnish private apartment: first take off your shoes without asking. Always!

2. If you take the tram in Helsinki, you can buy your ticket by text message on your mobile phone. And it doesn't have to be a Nokia cell phone. There are also over 30 stations in the center where you can surf the Internet cheaply or free of charge. Since January, 26 of the new so-called WLAN hotspots have been installed in buses and trams.

3. A walk in the park on the observatory mountain is worthwhile in several ways: From here you have the most beautiful view of the city, the harbor, the Baltic Sea and the fortress island of Suomenlinna, which can be reached by ferry from the market square. In addition, one is in the park far away from the tourist excitement of the Senate and market square. And from the small terrace next to the monument to the castaways, you can see the upper decks of the cruise ships anchored.

4. The Finnish "Sisu" can be easily studied in the ski tunnel in Jämi near Pori, about three hours' drive from Helsinki. There hardcore cross-country skiing fans ride all year round in an artificially cooled and snow-covered tunnel that is 625 meters long and eight meters wide. You can also play curling here in the middle of summer.

5. While the icebreaker fleet is moored at the northeastern end of the island of Katajanokka in summer, you can find their captains in the pub "Poseidon" in Kruunuvuorenkatu, corner of Satamak. Sometimes the gentlemen are drunk, but in principle they only recharge their batteries for the long winter, while their icebreakers enable shipping in the Gulf of Finland and Bothnia.

6. Just a few meters from the "Poseidon" pub in Katajanokka Park is "Omppu", the only kiosk in Helsinki that is allowed to sell drinks with more than 4.7 percent alcohol (only for immediate consumption) - because it goes to the Russian restaurant "Bellevue " belongs. Strong beer, wine and schnapps are otherwise only available in the state monopoly trade Alko.

7. You can get drunk cheaply with "Scream" or "Kilju". Making and drinking it is a rite of initiation. Recipe: 2.5 kilos of sugar, 4.5 liters of warm water, half a cube of yeast. Put everything in a five-liter plastic canister, stir well, let stand for two weeks and then drink.

8. The "theater bar" is at the back of the Swedish Theater, facing the Esplanadi promenade. It is the central meeting point for night owls. It really starts at 11 p.m. and ends at 4 a.m.

Info Helsinki

Phone: The international code for Finland is 00358.

Getting there:Finnair flies to Helsinki from all major German airports. With the so-called Atour tariff you can travel from the German airports of Hamburg, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt / M. and Munich fly cheap to Helsinki. More on the Internet at www.finnair.com

On site: From the airport you can take the yellow airport taxis to the city center. The Helsinkicard offers free travel on the light rail and buses, free entry to 50 museums, free sightseeing tours and other perks. 1 day 29 euros, 2 days 42 euros, 3 days 53 euros. More at www.helsinkicard.com

Information desk: Finnish National Tourist Board, Lessingstr. 5, 60325 Frankfurt / M., Tel. 069- 50 07 01 57. Helsinki information at www.hel.fi/tourism

and on Finland at www.visitfinland.de

Stay

Hostel stadium Ideal accommodation for globetrotters who want to meet like-minded people; in the Helsinki Olympic Stadium, on the north curve. Most of the rooms are large dormitories: an overnight stay costs 16 euros, breakfast costs 5.70 euros. Pohjoinen Stadiontie 3 B, Tel. 09-477 84 80, www.stadionhostel.fi; Double room 44 euros

This is to the west of the city center, on the Gulf of Finland Hilton Helsinki Kalastajatorppa, in the center that Hilton Beach. Both are good four-star hotels with a swimming pool, sauna and underground car park, where mostly business people live. Kalastajatorpantie 1, Tel. 09-4 58 11; Hilton Strand: John Stenbergin ranta 4, Tel. 09-3 93 51, www.hilton.de; Double room from 44 euros, breakfast 5.70 euros

Sokos Hotel Torni Large historic four-star hotel in the center. Yrjönkatu 26, Tel. 020-123 46 04, www.sokoshotels.fi; DR / B from 119 euros

Hotel Kaemp The six-star hotel in the middle of the Esplanadi promenade has been a hotel since 1887. Pohjoisesplanadi 29, phone 09-57 61 11, www.hotel kamp.fi; DR / B from 199 euros; more hotels and bookings at www.hel.fi/tourism

To eat and drink

Saari restaurant Enjoy Finnish specialties on Sirpalesaari Island, easily accessible by ferry, open from April 30th. Sirpalesaari, Tel. 09-74 25 55 66, www.asrestaurants.com

Saaga restaurant, one of the oldest restaurants in town. Specialties from Lapland are served in a folk atmosphere. Bulevardi 34, Tel. 09-74 25 55 44, www.ravintolaopas.net/saaga; So closed

Savoy restaurant Located on Espla nadi opposite the "Kämp" hotel on the eighth floor; the interior comes from the design legend Alvar Aalto. Very fine cuisine that has its price. Eteläesplanadi 14, Tel. 09-684 40 20; So closed

The Sea Horse serves simple but very good Finnish cuisine. The restaurant is somewhat reminiscent of a sports club home, but that doesn't detract from its popularity. Kapteeninkatu 11, Tel. 09-62 81 69, www.seahorse.fi

Café Engel Right on Senate Square. Nice little inner courtyard, in which you can have an excellent and quiet breakfast in summer - until the afternoon.While outside the tourists push themselves from the Tsar's monument to the market square. Aleksanterinkatu 26, Tel. 09-65 27 76, www.cafeengel.fi

Café Ekberg Traditional Viennese-style café with window fronts providing a clear view of the Esplanadi. And the selection of cakes, muffins and pastries tastes as good as it looks. Bulevardi 9, Tel. 09-68 11 86 60, www.cafeekberg.fi

E ctio n

American bar / Torni Locals and visitors alike consider it the hip cocktail bar in Helsinki. It is kept in the style of the thirties, and you should take a whole evening just to study its drinks menu. Better to try it out for a whole week. Kalevankatu 5, Tel. 09-43 36 63 10, www.ravintolaopas.net/americanbar/; So closed

Belge Bookshelves to the ceiling. The bistro with bar is not only popular with bookworms. Kluuvikatu 5, Tel. 09-622 96 20, www.ravintolaopas.net/belge

Look at

Design Forum Helsinki. Museum of Top Design from Finland. Well-stocked shop. Erottajankatu 7, Tel. 09-622 08 10, www.designforum.fi

Companies

Visiting a sauna is a must in Helsinki. Recommended:

Uunisaari, Tel. 09-63 68 70, www.uunisaari.com (reserve!)

Helsingin Saunasaari Oy, Tel. 050-05 25 03 93, www.saunasaari.fi (reserve from May to October!). The Finnish Sauna Society provides information on sauna culture in Finland at: www.sauna.fi

Read

Suomesta, Rakkaudella / From Finland with Love, Wsoy 2006, 23.80 euros. What is life like in Finland? A question that Roman Schatz answered - he has lived there for 20 years and is a media star. The book of German was published bilingually in Finnish and English.

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