Monday, September 03, 2007

Day Two - Jyvaskyla

Well, my internal clock is almost aright now. Woke up at 1 am, read until 4, and then fell asleep and awoke at 8. After a good breakfast, out to see the town.Started walking downhill, because it looked to be the main part of town. First thing that caught my eye was this trainload of logs going by. As I mentioned, I'm here for a bioenergy conference, and the signs of bioenergy production are everywhere...I'll share more of that later in the week. Today, I'm on a quest to find the real Finland, the land of Mannerheim. And looking just beyond the train tracks, I saw this old building...Unfortunately (for me)this is no longer the train station. That is a humongous brick and glass edifice a couple of blocks back up the street. This fine old structure now serves as a watering hole for the locals. This was just my first taste of the fact that Jyvaskylans aren't hung up on history. In fact, they promote their city as "Human Technology City" and there aren't many traces of the old days left around here. But is still is a scenic place, I grant you that...
The city sits on a lake, and this is a picture looking back on the city center from a very large bridge that crosses the lake and connects the suburbs with the city proper. Suburbs is not exactly the right name, as we think of it...
The commuters live in these nice high rises on the far side of the lake. Very nice lakefront property, and left very natural (except for the buildings, of course.)
A lot of the commuting, at this time of year, at least, is done by bicycle. Young and old, lots of folks pedal around all over the city. This picture shows a nice bike parking area...wish we had these in America.
Well, found a little more history here, in this nice two-masted schooner. It nows serves as a tour/party boat on the lake. However, can't find out much more, because of a constraint that I can see is going to be a problem...very, very few of the natives here speak any English. And since my Finnish is a little rusty, I may have trouble getting "a feel" for the true spirit of the place. Most things, I just look at and guess.
No guessing here, though. "Lilliputti" says the sign, and by the looks of it, it must be a putt-putt place for everyone named Lily!
The fleet was in when I strolled by...I guess the fishing must be over by mid-morning. But they do have some good catch here, as I found out later in my stroll...
At a farmer's market in the town, one booth was the local fish vendor. I motioned if I could take a picture of the fish, he smiled and pulled the covers off for me. Looks like shad or herring, and trout. Looked pretty darn good, wished I had a skillet back in my room.Those fish made me hongry, so I browsed around and finally settled on this gourmet luncheon...Coke and something that resembled a strawberry jam stromboli. So I had my sugar fix for the day.The market was an interesting place. Many of the vendors were selling little blue and red berries. I guess the first were blueberries, but I'm not sure what the red ones were. This lady had a lot of them. She also had some wild-looking mushrooms; wish I could taste those right out of a stir-fry with a little onion and lemon pepper.
The market is also where I encountered my first statue. I have noticed in other countries that you could tell a lot about what the folks valued in their history by what they erect statues to. But what this statue is of, I never could figure out.

But it was a nice place to enjoy a few moments, so I sat and ate my whatever it was, listened to this old gentleman play old folk music on his accordion, and threw crumbs to the little, fat, feathery sparrows that dined with me.

After feasting, I started again and had a small frustration. Stopping to look at this old 1922 motor-cycle, a friendly old guy came up and started rattling off something terribly interesting, but unfortunately I couldn't understand a word of it. I just smiled when he stopped, so that encouraged him and he started rattling again and burst into a hearty laugh. Finally, I just smiled and said, "Sorry...American", and his look confirmed that indeed I was, and he pedaled away muttering, something nice I think about the land of the free and the home of the brave.
That was unfortunate for me, because things had been pretty quiet for me. Folks here don't seem to talk very much, and this fellow was practically the first human voice I had heard all day. But walking up the street, I heard the rowdy voices of children, and I went to watch them kick the soccer ball around in the school yard. As I snapped a couple of pictures, I thought to myself that I might be arrested in America these days for doing something as suspicious as that...and as the school bell rang and the kids all ran back inside, laughing and punching each other, I thought about how lucky they are to be growing up in a little more innocent world than we Americans live in.

By now I had begin to notice that I had not run across a single church or spied a single steeple in the city. And wouldn't you know it, the first church I ran across was a Mormon church, complete with a signpost outside explaining the Good News of Jesus right alongside old Joseph Smith himself. Well, the Mormons do get a lot of mileage out of that story, somehow. Then right across the street...
A Lutheran church, or "kirkko" as they are called here. Unfortunately, some grafitti mobster had done his dark work on the front of this church. As I turned the corner, I finally saw my first steeple, small though that it was...Coming closer, I recognized it as a Catholic church, and the Spirit moved me to try the door, since Catholic churches are usually always open for prayer. I went inside...

The inside was typically Catholic, although a little smaller than I had expected. The seven rows of two pews apiece wouldn't hold more than a hundred for a mass, so I suspect that Catholics aren't a large body here. But the quiet of the chapel made a nice sanctuary for me, and I spent some good time with Our Lord Jesus before moving on.

The sun had broken through the clouds during my prayer time (how wonderful to feel that warmth streaming onto my face through that beautiful stained glass!) and so I decided to see a little more and take some city shots. This one is interesting, because it shows the organized traffic system here...the lane at the left is for auto traffic, the middle lane for bicycles, and the right lane of brick for pedestrians.
I climbed this path, just because it was there, and looked nice, and I wondered what could be up there. At the top of the hill, I came upon this building......and after a while figured out it was the Museum of Natural History! At last, I was to get some history of the place! But alas! the place was closed on Monday, so maybe I'll get a chance to go back later in the week...I did get a couple of interesting pictures. First, an actual "tree hugger"......was displayed in a museum window. Then I caught sight of a real war momento, the first that I had seen anywhere.
A nice mobile gun, one that was used on the front by Field Marshal Mannerheim against the Russians. How do I know? Well, the plaque says "1939-1944"...I leave the rest to be deciphered by that Royal Historian of the Round Table, Sir Jason.

Well, just a couple more shots on this phototour of Jyvaskyla. First, I finally found an historic old church, I knew they had to have at least one. I couldn't figure its denomination out from walking around it, but the lady at the hotel desk told me it was a "Luteranian" so I assume it is Lutheran.
Around the church were a couple more statues, but no war heroes (well, not exactly)...
I think this is a statue of Samson and his mother, since the baby has long, flowing hair and is waving around a mean-looking golden jawbone. If he's not Samson, the Finns have someone in their folklore taken from the mold of Samson, that's for sure. He's the closest thing to a war hero I could find around here.

This lady's story must be interesting...The base of the statue says her name is "Minna Canth" and she appears to be standing next to an open Bible. Have to check into her history, unless one of you Round Table readers know her story.
I took this building to be a city hall, or something...
The roses are in full bloom, even though the weather is cool and it looks like an early winter here...And I close with this picture of one of the few old buildings left here, that look what I expected Finland to look like. Surprise, it's a tourist center!

Well, this city is definitely not stuck in the past, it is focused on the future. Good for them, bad for the Ghost of Mannerheim.

Sir Chuck, footsore but Finned


  1. I don't recognize the model of the gun-even I don't know everything. I can give a little speculation though
    The gun looks like a twenty mil antiaircraft. Lighter AAs can often do well in anti-personal and while this didn't carry the heft for anti-tank the Finns tended to use anything for antitank that was heavy enough to have an excuse for it and the Russians let them get away with it too often. I assume it was towed by animal because only America ever really had enough motor vehicles to go round at that time and in any case the roads were awful. It is odd to think so, but World War II depended on the legs of people and animals almost as much as previous wars. Perhaps when they went cross-country they took off the wheels and used skis. Picture the teamsters shoveing the thing through the blinding snow and shreiking wind, cursing the weather, the war, the Russians, the rear-echelon, the horses and whatever else they desired to curse. And doing so most eloquently. I have read that Finnish has a large selection of profanity. As they do so every now and again one of their horses would hit a pothole and go lame. Picture the scene.

    Task Force R: "Battery B, this is Task Force R, come in. Battery B, things are getting hot-why aren't you at Tolvijarvi."

    Battery B: "Were sorry but we can't go any faster. Several of our horses are lame. Could you send us some replacements"

    Task Force R: Battery B, every unit about is short. I don't care how you get here but get here. If you can't you will be relieved. Is that understood get a movi...(buzz,crackle)

    Battery B: "Task Force R, this is Battery B, I can't read you-to much interference."

    Task Force R: (buzz,crackle)"Battery B this is Task force R. I don't care what the weather is or abouth the condition of your horses. You will be in Tolvijarvi on time if every horse has to go lame. Is that understood."

    And so on.

    There probably aren't many Catholics in Finland. Finland is Lutheran land from what I recall.
    It's funny I read elsewhere that Finns have a thing about not talking much. Partly it is because it is inbred by the need to conserve energy. It makes a pretty good macho affectation though, "We say exactly what we mean and no more."

    For Minna Canth see:

    One thing you didn't mention is that the Finns are the worlds greatest coffee drinkers. And they have some strange recipes including using fish skins as a condiment.

    Sir Jason the Admire of Finland

  2. I guess based only on appearance that Muistoksi means "Muscovite"(I.E. Russians). Presumably it is a unit memorial that says something or other about "gallant service against the Russian invasion".
    By the way it is a little known fact that the Finns also fought the Germans toward the end of the war.

    I would like to know more myself about that memorial.

    Sir Jason

  3. It's funny I read elsewhere that Finns have a thing about not talking much.

    Today I rode on the train about 3 hours (over 1 hour each way) and heard only a couple of whispers the whole time. People just don't ignore Americans, they don't talk to anyone who is a stranger to them, so a young girl in a burger joint explained to me. She doesn't know why, they just don't. More about her, and what she shared about the prices in Finland, in my next posting...

  4. gallant service against the Russian invasion

    Good catch, I meant Russians,not Germans. Although you're right, it could have been used against them too...

    Sir C

  5. Oh by the way, the Ghost of Mannerheim might not be to displeased. He was after all fighting so that Finns could live undisturbed.

    Sir Jason