Summers are bright and green in Scandinavia – that much we knew already, but The Lighter Side of Finland claims that it is not all grey and gloomy in winter, either. The book is an entertaining description of this Nordic country that is renowned for its education system, racing car drivers, and Angry Birds.
For a tourist, the biggest attraction is the capital Helsinki, followed by Lapland, lake district in the East and South-West archipelago. This book, however, is not a travel guide (even though it includes a few travel tips as well), but a warm-hearted account of the culture, people, traditions, food and sauna etiquette.
It is a well-written book that is a pleasure to read even if your next travel destination wouldn’t be Finland, but if it is, and you are interested what makes the nation tick, this book is worth your time.
Finns are from Neptune and Italians from Mercury – that is what someone moving from Italy to Finland (or vice versa) might think. The differences in culture, behavior and socializing – not to mention weather and food – are so great that it can drive a normal, healthy person to believe that the Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy correctly defined the meaning of life.
Spaghetti and Sauna is a very personal story of a young woman who moved from Italy to Finland in order to study and work in the Nordic country. Her personal story, however, develops into a insightful description of Italian and Finnish cultures. The author believes that these two countries are the remotest countries in Europe culturally. She tells countless funny and humiliating stories how easy it is to misinterpret people who have different background than yourself.
I happen to be fairly familiar with both Italian and Nordic cultures, and I can confirm that the detailed insight in the book on the people, their customs and the way of thinking and behaving is similar to mine. I would recommend this book to everyone who wants to understand at least two from the many diverse cultures of Europe.
The Best of Helsinki is a travel guidebook for tourists who like to absorb information via images and maps. The book is clearly designed to be a visual guide that shows the places to go and helps visitors navigate in the destination.
This guidebook can be browsed in order to get an overall understanding what the city has to offer, and once interesting sights or attractions has been discovered, it is easy to study details of those places that seem interesting.
Reviews of the book at Goodreads: here.
Google Play: here.
My favorite places in Gothenburg:
– Haga. A lovely old neighborhood.
– Slottsskogen. A large park in the outskirts of city center. Features a small zoo.
– The canals. Gothenburg was originally protected by walls and canals. The walls have disappeared but the canals still circle the old city center.