Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Where Are You Hiding the Addicts, Homeless and Mentally Ill, Helsinki?

Helsinki is a bit like that kid in school who was just all around good. You know the one...good looking, good grades, nice parents, neat clothes that are never mussed up, not conceited, not flashy but everyone's friend. Yes, that is Helsinki! The first thing I notice about Finland in general was that as the plane was landing it seemed that the landscape was a bit like Northern Ontario with lots of forestry and pockets of water. After making my way into Helsinki from the airport, the next thing I noticed was the shocking lack of addicts, homeless, and general street type people. I looked. I spent three hours taking a pub tram ride and walking all over but could not spot a single specimen. I saw plenty of people, especially in the numerous park areas. It was a gorgeous, blue sky day so the Esplanade (a clean, spruced up version of Hamlton's Gore Park) was filled with young and old, sitting chatting, listening to music or eating ice cream. I strolled to the Market by the harbour where vendors were just finishing up and packing away for the night. Everyone I came across was polite, neat, and helpful....kind of eerie, really...a little like the Stepford wives but a whole city!
Me on the Esplanade in Helsinki. I even had a friend to go for my walk with me so she could take my picture!
The other thing that is deeply disconcerting about this city is the fact that after being here some 18 or so hours, I am still waiting for night to fall. Ok, it is 5:30 am now so I guess that isn't going to happen! Unfortunately, despite having the best solid five hour sleep on the flight here, and having bragged to my fellow travelers that I was feeling no ill effects of jet lag (too much bragging, too soon me thinks!) I now find myself unable to sleep at all. I'm not sure if it is the startling bright daylight outside my window, my excitement over visiting a new city, or the anticipation of heading on to Shanghai this afternoon. Whatever it is...I can predict that by tomorrow, I am going to be a sleep deprived, brain mushed, useless individual...more later....

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