Posted by: distributorcap | July 25, 2008

At the Finnish line

Finland is one beautiful country. It is about the size of New Mexico in area and has a population equivalent to Minnesota – 5.3 million people. It is the most sparsely populated country in the European Union. The Finns believe in the environment – the land is pristine, the countryside is stunning and Helsinki has to be one of the most liveable cities on earth. It is also incredibly expensive.

It also has one of the most difficult languages to learn. Finnish is completely unrelated to the other Scandinavian languages (Swedish, Danish, Norwegian) or to the language of its eastern neighbor – Russia. Finnish is related to Hungarian. And it is impossible for a poor linguist like myself to figure out.

Helsinki is a relatively small city, but pretty sophisticated and cosmopolitan. It is also clean as can be and quite lively. Once you leave the city, you are in some of the most beautiful countryside you have ever seen.

One of the big attractions in Helsinki is the Temppeliaukion Kirkko, a church built into solid rock. It is architecturally quite amazing.

Porvoo is a charming little town about 30 km from Helsinki, the second oldest village in Finland. It is right on a picturesque river and all the buildings are made of wood.

In Porvoo is a medieval church with a thatched roof. At the altar is Jesus (that guy sure gets around, even to cold Scandinavia) hanging from the cross. Not an uncommon sight in a church.

What was above Jesus was something a little more uncommon (then again being Jewish I haven’t been in all that many churches).

Above this Jesus was something written in Hebrew

I believe it says “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”

and over a small balcony was the Hebrew word יהוה or “Yahweh” – which is god in Hebrew

Most Finns are Lutheran – I didn’t realize that Hebrew would be used over the cross. – I would have assumed Latin or Finnish, but not Hebrew. One of you smarter religious bloggers can probably explain it better than I.

A few other sites around Finland – at St. Nicholas church in Helsinki

a church in the countryside

my obsession with supermarkets


  1. I like checking out supermarkets abroad too. That and office supplies. Don’t know why. Glad that you are enjoying your travels. It’s inspiring me to get off my ass and travel abroad soon (ish).

  2. I love checking out supermarkets when we’re in foreign countries and buying things to take back to the hotel to eat. It’s fun and provides a small glimpse into what the locals chow down on.Helsinki looks spotless.I remember thinking the samething about Copenhagen, Denmark — no one littered and the streets were so clean.Kinda’ the opposite of London, UK, which is filthy.

  3. I have friends who visited Helsinki frequently for work (they worked for Wallac Oy, a Finnish diagnostics company) and they’re obsessed with it now; they return as often as possible. Beautiful pictures.

  4. I never knew much about Finland–until now. Sounds like a neat place, even if it is expensive.

  5. Well as someone that was raised Roman Catholic (although I’m recovering nicely) I have been in a lot of churches. The Hebrew text above the cross is not uncommon at all. While I don’t pretend to be a religious scholar, Jesus was Jewish so I think it is safe to assume he spoke Hebrew.Seeing writing in Hebrew and references to the Hebrew text in a Catholic Church is not at all uncommon.I know that you said you don’t go into many churches but I think you should. Especially churches around the world. While I haven’t set foot in a church to pray in 20 years, I always visit when I’m abroad. They are some of the most beautiful buildings in any city.Add them to your tour. You won’t be

  6. If you run into a Finnish girl named Annu, tell her I said hello.

  7. Gees, for a Jewish guy you really dig churchs. I thought the Finns only worshipped Vodka?nice photos!

  8. Great pics, D-Cap.And you should see Whole Food’s flagship store in Austin. Valet parking, a deli case/smoker, artisan breads, a produce section the size of Rhode Island and a walk through beer cooler with at least 1,000 different brews.It’s amazing.

  9. As I read more and more about Finland, I realize how much I want to live there.

  10. PS-Supermarkets rule.

  11. //…a walk through beer cooler with at least 1,000 different brews//Gees, forget Finland, I’m going to Austin…..I think that is a Church I need to worship in!

  12. I really love the picture of the red church.

  13. dcAp,other that a couple of weekends in the bahamas, i have never been outside the usa, and i doubt i will ever have the money to be a world traveler, so thank you, dcAp, for bringing the world to me. i am enjoying the pictures and your descriptions so much. plus, it’s a lot cheaper, and i don’t have jetlag!

  14. Great pics mate. Finland looks awesome.

  15. What, no sauna stories? How can you go to Finland and not mention sauna?

  16. As someone who dragged you into 10 churches in 2 hours and also spent some quality time in foreign supermarkets with you, what can I say?As for the Hebrew, Christianity is born out of Judaism. Although the languages in use when Jesus was alive were more likely Greek and Aramaic.

  17. great picture of Finland! I’ll be back to study more tomorrow.did you go to Sweden too?

  18. I used to think foreign markets were cool too, until hearing my in-law’s tale of their trip to Morocco last year. To quote Mad Magazine, “Blech!”(I’ve always wanted to quote Mad Magazine.)

  19. Nice post! It seems like your trip was really wonderful.I agree with you and several commenters — it’s neat going to supermarkets, getting a sense of how people live their lives a bit in the places you are visiting. How else would I know what the Austrian soft drink Almdudler tastes like (not very good, if memory serves)?Since no one has done this yet, I must do it now:Finland, Finland, FinlandThe country where I want to bePony trekking or campingOr just watching TV

  20. Beautiful Dcap, but I dunno about the old text, I’ll ask around.

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