Tim, Ryan and I ventured half an hour to the city of Lahti. We were expecting something on the scale of Bangor, ME. The Finnish refer to it as “The Business City,” so my expectations were that of factories, mills and offices. What they meant was shopping. The main drag is lit up like Hong Kong, only in a more organized fashion. Neon abounds.
According to The Lonely Planet Guide, the city of Lahti was started in 1908. That was surprising because I expect in Europe to have lots of history. At that rate, there are buildings in my hometown that are much older than that. My hometown, however, is lacking gigantic, professional ski jumps. Maybe that is something meine schwester and I can start. We are looking for a business to start in our hometown to help out the economy.
We found parking after “whipping a shitty” as meine schwester calls it. I learned that trick from my brother in Boston. You can’t let a parking spot go just because it is on the other side of the street and there is oncoming traffic. I especially appreciated his skill on University Street in Palo Alto. The Finnish don’t really seem to have parking meters. The ones I found at “The Institute” turned out not to be meters but electrical outlets to plug in your car. If you aren’t familiar with plugging in your gasoline car, this is to keep the battery charged and make it easier to start on mornings when it is -20˚C. Instead of meters in Finland, you have to find a little machine near by, feed it some money, and it spits out a card you put on your dashboard. We had about two hours to find the Western Union and get some lunch.
Our first stop was the lobby of a hotel we were passing. The hope was that the woman at the front desk would know where the Western Union was. She didn’t, but we learned something fascinating about Finnish. The words here are extremely long, and as the driver, it is difficult to look for street signs when the words are all 20 letters long and the passengers can’t pronounce them any better than the driver can read them. It seems that the Finnish language enjoys adding extra letters onto words as well as using the German trick of squishing words together. We were attempting to find something on Aleksanterinkatu. The woman replied that she didn’t know where it was on “Alexander Street”. “Alexander Street?” Why not just say that?! Katu must be the word for street as I’ve now seen it at the end of many words. Why the extra letters in between. Wouldn’t it just be easier to write Aleks Katu? I digress.
We wandered down Aleksanterinkatu until we found the Western Union hidden in a real estate office on the second floor of a small mall space. A young guy from Senegal helped us out. Seems that he has been here for two and a half years and usually eats at home as he didn’t have any suggestions for lunch in the area. We asked if he likes it here and he refused to answer the question seeing as he didn’t know if we liked it here or not. I put that question in the same realm as when meine schwester thinks it is a good idea to ask the waiter which one of us is older. She doesn’t seem to understand that when she asks that question, I always win no matter what the answer. Either the waiter is correct, and I’m not offended, or he is incorrect at which point I laugh hysterically. She still hasn’t learned.
We then started to search for food. I said no to any tex-mex as my experience so far was lacking. I suggested Thai, but seeing as they are going back to China in two weeks, all asian cuisine was crossed off the list. Drinking before a game seemed like a bad idea, and most of the bars don’t seem to serve food. There was a McDonalds that we ignored along with Hesburger which seems to be a more upscale McDs chain type place. There were a couple of Italian places that we passed by as well. Hunger finally won as we stopped at a pizza/falafel place. I found this an extremely odd combination, but I’ve been told that the Turkish nationals seem to run the pizza business in Scandinavia.
I tried to use logic to figure out what the pizza toppings were. I’d heard that Finnish/Turkish pizza has a habit of being sprinkled with shrimp. I finally decided on Hawaii Pizzat. That helped us to determine what the word for ham was. Of course, the ham came diced in quarter-inch squares. Overall, the pizza was good. Not something that I’d crave all the time, but edible. It was not so good the next day. Guess this isn’t the kind of pizza that gets better with age.
Lunch ended our trip to Lahti. The trip back to Vierumäki was nothing to write home about. We are going back again on Friday night, so look for more then.