Last week I was in Helsinki, opening a photo exhibition at Virka gallery in the City Hall of Icelandic landscape.
I was glad to spend some time in Helsinki, one of my absolute favorite cities. It’s not only the city I like, maybe more the people living there.
I do like Finland, have been there countless times. It’s like coming home, to a second home.
Iceland and Finland, are furthest apart in the Nordic region, but I have always found more similarities between us and the Finns, than with our Scandinavian brothers in Norway, Denmark and Finland.
We are brothers in arms.
And talking about arms, a week ago, sitting at the eighth floor in Stockmann having lunch, reading the Swedish newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet. The long leader/editorial was about Iceland. About why Finland should patrol Iceland’s airspace with unarmed military jets, as part of an agreement between NATO and Iceland. Finland is not part of NATO but want to help a brother nation, as part of Nordic cooperation.
It seems to be big deal in Finland. Not here in Iceland.
Their next door neighbor Russia has made signs to the Finns that they do not want Finland to be part of this (NATO) agreement, do not want them to patrolling Icelandic skies.
Relations between Finland and Russia have always been tricky. It is difficult to live next door to a Superpower.
After reading the Finnish news, the next step was to check the online the news from home.
Nothing about Finland.
But Parliamentarian Þór Saari was making all the headlines in the republic. He wants to establish a quota on foreign tourists visiting Iceland. Reason: sometimes he cannot get a table at his favorite café because all the seats are occupied by tourists.
He must be the second most stupid man on the planet, I thought looking around on the eighth floor in central Helsinki. Most tables were occupied by Asian tourists, and some Swedes, and one red-faced Icelander, thinking about Þór Saari.
Back home, after only five days, I felt a difference: fewer tourists, and it is darker.
Much darker. In only five days, the daylight in the world’s northernmost capital has been cut by half an hour.
In just five days.
Helsinki is the second most northerly capital.
And they are lucky, Þór Saari does not live there.
Páll Stefánsson - firstname.lastname@example.org