Last year I woke up for my 22nd birthday feeling kind of sad, I didn’t look forward to it all and the day ended up with a stranger proposing to me in a night club. This year, I woke up on a bench in the airport in Helsinki feeling really excited and happy. Today I have been alive for 23 years. Yes, Happy Birthday to me!
We had breakfast at café Tintin Tango – an amazing croissant, sandwich and tea synchronized for a perfect start of the day. The walls are covered with pictures of Tintin, captain Haddock and Milo. Tintin was always my favourite series, together with Mumintrollet. We sat on their terrace and a man was about to get run over by a garbage truck. Shortly afterwards, another truck nearly reversed into another car. The city is alive.
We arrived very late last night and had decided on forehand to sleep at the airport. We found a bench each and spent the night there, although I had some trouble sleeping the first half of the night. I woke up at around five am, sat on the bench watching all the people walking by. There were airplanes coming and leaving all the time and big groups of people hurried by, some walking slowly looking tired. Another man lay on one of the benches to my left and my travel partner lay on one to the right. I was wondering what people were thinking as they saw us, is it a common sight? I’ve seen lots of people sleeping on the floor at airports, rolled up hugging their bags, but I can’t recall seeing people on benches. At six am I feel asleep again, and slept for three hours.
We had lunch with a couchsurfer who’s place we would surf at the next night, and we walked around Helsinki visiting a design market with beautiful finnish design. The sustainable and ecological thinking was everywhere, earrings made from old buttons and bags made of worn clothes and used fabrics.
It turned out the couch surfer had a sauna in his flat. We went to the shop and bought birch twigs, my grandmother teached me long ago how to bath properly in a sauna and you can’t do it without birch twigs.
We heated the sauna, prepared the birch twigs and a few glasses of water and beer. Then the three of us got undressed and the finish sauna experience began. For me it was hardly the first time, my grandmother comes from Finland and I have more or less grown up with the sauna. The twigs are used to whip your whole body, and it’s very comfortable and relaxing. It makes you feel refreshed and pure. Just the smell makes it worth it, the twigs smell like forest, spring, love and peace.
We sat outside on his balcony to cool down between the löyly (the steam coming from throwing water at the heating point) as the sun started to set. The air was still and the sun warm, it was like a perfect summer night even though it was only the middle of april. Here and there we could see heaps of snow, the climate here is like the one in Sundsvall, where I lived until a few months ago.
I don’t want to leave Helsinki so soon, I wish I could stay for a whole week. But as today is our first day here, tomorrow will be our last.