Postcard from Helsinki – My first impressions of Europe

Helsinki was not only my port of entry / exit in Europe, it was also my first ever European city – so i had a lot of expectations of it. Oh, and it didn’t fail to disappoint!

In fact, Helsinki was everything i had imagined Europe and Scandinavia to be, and much more.

These were my first impressions of Helsinki / Europe / Scandinavia


    1. Helsinki is WiFi Heaven!
      Almost every public space has (mostly free) WiFi, starting from the airport to the bus terminal to… even the city center. What a massive plus when you’re travelling in the age of smartphones.
    2. People dress really well, and mostly in black
      This may not come as a surprise, i’ve always associated Europe with good fashion – and i’m assuming black is the preferred colour for the winters, to absorb and trap maximum heat.
    3. Helsinki smells of coffee everywhere.
      Somebody pinch me… i’m dreaming!
      As a die hard coffee lover, i was delighted to hear that Finland is the highest per capita consumer of coffee in the world. Music for my ears and olfactory bliss, this.
    4. People love being active, even in the winters.
      The temperature may be sub zero, but that doesn’t stop Helsinki from getting their game on. You see runners, bikers and (obviously) skis everywhere. Even the kids are out with their ice skating shoes on!
    5. Surprise! Everyone speaks perfect English
      I was a bit worried that not everyone may speak English in a country of Finns, but i was pleasantly surprised to know that absolutely everyone spoke perfect English. I’d always make it a point to say “kiitos” when thanking people and “kippis” when raising a toast though. Every effort to speak the local language is always appreciated, in any country.

What were your first impressions of Europe? I’d love to read them in the comments below!

Exotic Gringo (Kaushal Karkhanis)

Leading an experimental life as a digital nomad, I started traveling in 2007 while choosing to shuttle between Goa and Mumbai as 'home'. An epic life-changing trip to South America an year later gave birth to this blog, Exotic Gringo.