So, Finland last week was named the happiest place in the world, yet again! In fact, for the fourth year running, the little Nordic country blessed with a diversely beautiful climate, topped the annual UN-sponsored report from analytics researcher Gallup that asked people in 149 countries to rate their own happiness. Measures factored in included social support, personal freedom, GDP and levels of corruption.
But if my little time spent there a few years ago is anything to go by, Finland is about a lot more than the “gold standard happiness indices.” It is as much about the summer-time breeze, the fantastic Finns, their streets, their food and everything in between, which contributes to making everyone there happy and at peace.
For me, of course, it was more of the latter, when in the summer of 2018, I finally found a place for my edgy mind to repose while coping with the loss of my mum. The memories of that one afternoon I spent staring at the unending emptiness of the Gulf of Finland, from the southernmost tip of the island of Suomenlinna, the sea fortress fascinatingly built on eight islands about four km southeast of the capital Helsinki and a Unesco World Heritage site, still remain fresh. Those couple of hours gave me a sense of tranquillity that I have kept with me since.
Finland may mean different things for different people — the land of Northern Lights, Lapland and saunas, the birthplace of Nokia and Linux, the land of Santa Claus, the country of weird language, of women’s rights (thanks to PM Sanna Marin), of world class education, of the legacy of Olympic champion Paavo Nurmi, of Liquorice, and Finnish pancakes.
But only if you’ve been there, you’d know why the land of the Finns is truly a conjurer of pure magic, of absolute happiness that comes in many forms and is a concoction of unique experiences!
Finnish just doesn’t finish….
“Lentokonesuihkuturbiinimoottoriapumekaanikkoaliupseerioppilas” is said to be the longest Finnish word at 61 letters. Roughly translated, this means “airplane jet turbine engine auxiliary mechanic non-commissioned officer student!” But if you want to strike up a conversation at the marketplace, you could say: Mitä kuuluu? (How are you?) and respond with Kiitos hyvää (Fine, thank you!)
Helsinki, the most liveable capital
Helsinki is the sustainable capital of Finland, a vibrant seaside city of beautiful islands and green urban spaces. Often considered the world’s northernmost metro area, Helsinki chimes to a unique tune of its own with unique designs, architecture, food and sauna that make up the city’s stunning Nordic culture.
Finland: A land of contrasts
First thing you need to decide is whether you’ll go there in the summer or winter — or somewhere in between. That’s because one season is characterised by extreme light and the other by near darkness. Next, you can zero in on one or two of the four main regions: Helsinki area, Lakeland, Archipelago and Lapland that together offer “something for everyone”.
Meet the Real Santa…
If you didn’t know, the legendary Santa Claus comes from Finland. You can actually meet him in person all year round at Santa’s “official office” in Rovaniemi, the “official hometown of Santa Claus” in the mysterious Arctic Circle, open 365 days a year!
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