Thursday, September 15, 2005

Mishah's in Helsinki, attending a conference on typography. We communicate through text messaging, and here's his first impression of Finland:

Must be so painful for the Finns to travel to St. Pete: nature is the same, only sodden with the sovok [Soviet] shit.

And of Helsinki:

A big Vyborg without Russians.


My May 2004 text about Vyborg is here, on The Morning News site. More photos from that trip are here - for some reason, they've been stuck all this time on this other photo site of mine that I never use...


  1. Yeah, I often travel between St. Pete and Helsinki, and am always struck (and saddened) at how everything goes from being bright, healthy, clean and green in Finland, to being pale, tired, and run-down just across the border.

    The first time I went to Helsinki it was after spending three months in Russia, and I felt as if I'd gone through some sort of time warp. And I know a Petersburgian who said that the first time he went to Helsinki he was just really angry -- angry that all this time while the Soviet people were living a difficult existence, there was this clean and modern place just a few hours away.

    09.15.05 - 10:20 pm

  2. Did you visit the Viipuri Public Library, designed by Alvar Aalto? I was there twelve years ago, and it was still in a sorry state. However, a restoration was begun - I wonder how that has progressed? bu...ri_Library.html

    09.16.05 - 3:34 pm

  3. You know, I can't remember. Which probably means I didn't get there. It was a very depressing trip. Very. But I read about the building and saw pictures, of course.

    Here's another link: Alvar Aalto. Viipuri Library

    09.16.05 - 4:07 pm

  4. Thanks for the link. I'd been thinking of doing a small feature on the Library for A Step At A Time, but haven't got round to it yet.

    Viipuri was quite depressing in 1993. I went there with a Finnish friend to look at it particularly from a Finnish point of view - architecture, history, literary allusions, and so on. We found that a lot of the original city is still there if one looks hard enough - but one sometimes has to look very hard indeed. There was one positive side to the general state of disrepair and dilapidation: in 1993 many houses and buildings in the town didn't seem to have been repainted or restored much since the 1940s, and that made it easier to see what the place must once have been like. From the photos you posted, it looks as though it's still being kept that way.

    09.16.05 - 6:01 pm

  5. Vyborg and the Isthmus have a very special meaning to Finns. Something should be done, but obviously with negotiations and compromise with