Wednesday, September 10, 2008


The staff had a good time in Finland. We rented bikes and pedaled about; we saw some art; we sipped coffee at cafes on the sidewalk like the continental sophisticates we are. It was all lovely except for trying to get dinner.

One of our day-job co-workers is, in fact, a Finn. She grew up in Helsinki and now claims that she knows nothing about it, and only goes to the country house with the sauna when she visits our homeland. Our primary source of information thus dashed, we were stuck with Lonely Planet to guide us to a restaurant we could afford and also enjoy. Feeling the casual Finnish vibe, we didn't change out of our jeans. So we picked a spot, somewhat outside the center, and enjoyed a longish but pleasant walk up there, The Lovely Katherine worrying about whether we could get in wearing jeans and your correspondent assuring her she was crazy. We arrived at our destination, and there were a couple occupied tables and about 30 unoccupied ones. And we were turned away. No reservation. We decided maybe Finns eat late, and tried another establishment nearby. Again - no reservation, no luck.

Now, these places were not exactly busy. And while I know the Europeans eat a bit later than us, it was already 8:00 or 8:30 by this point. Unless they had a ton of reservations for 9:00, we were being denied either for wearing jeans, or for not being locals.

So we walk back towards downtown, figuring we'll find something. And places are looking fancy or full, and we wind up at a tourist trap listed in the trusty Lonely Planet, and it's at earliest 9:00 and we're hungry and we've been walking all day. So we settle on the tourist trap, because they're obviously happy to serve tourists in jeans. We each have one beer, I have a reindeer filet (it was a minor goal to have eaten reindeer, I'll admit), the Lovely has stewed beets because they're out of the fish. It is eminently unsatisfying.

The tab? $100. Plus tip. I'm not kidding. Two beers, one real meal, and a pile of steamed beats - $100. Putting the "trap" in tourist trap. We consider ourselves fairly seasoned travelers, but obviously not seasoned enough.

Anyway, above is a cool old car on the streets of Helsinki. Since we have more Helsinki pictures than Helsinki stories, we'll add: here's a picture of a guy selling potatoes from a boat. Neither has anything to do with the story.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I knew that faint noise I have been hearing was somebody's stomach growling...

So does a big "check" go by Finland on the travel list?