May 2, 2024


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I took some Labor Day photos! It’s nice to just walk around and play tourist again.

Vappu (or Labor Day) is a pretty big deal in Finland. Aside from the usual workers’ celebration, it’s also a big celebration for college students (stylized as Wappu). For a few weeks (here, it’s almost 3 weeks) leading up to Vappu, there are daily events students attend for fun and for points.

Events range from your typical night club rave and bar crawl, to board game nights and larping, to even a panel about EU elections and mock college entrance exams.

The major with the most points win, and they get dipped in the river first.

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I did the Vappu thing, which is apparently to eat donuts and drink sima, a lightly alcoholic mead. It’s one of those very drinkable drinks. A fizzy fruit juice. A sweet kombucha. Highly recommended.

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Another thing I wanted to try was visit a public sauna. It’s one of those things I knew I should try, but I kept putting off. But the holiday was a good opportunity to force myself to try something new, and so I did.

Google Maps had me hike through a forest along the bay. The views were incredible. The crystal clear water and the way it reflected the bright blue sky was surreal.

I later learned there was a “better” and “faster” route, but I’m not gonna complain.

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Back to the sauna, I’ve procrastinated coming here for so long because it’s just intimidating.

Sure, I’ve tried similar things before, like going to a public bath in Japan. That was fun and a great cultural experience. But still, there’s nothing more daunting than walking into rooms with signs I can’t read and bunch of naked people.

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Anyways, here, I immediately messed up. Despite being extra cautious, I still opened the wrong door, directly into the shower room. There I was, confused, with three showering dudes staring at me, also confused. I had somehow missed the first door, which would’ve led to the locker room.

All was fine, however, because some frantic gestures later, I found the right door. At that point, one of the showering dudes had finished his business, realized I was new, came over, and taught me everything.

See guys? This is why you make mistakes.

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The sauna itself was very hot.

Let’s just say I had zero practice with these extreme temperatures. The one I have at home doesn’t get very hot, and this one is over 100 degrees.

The good part though, was taking breaks in between sessions, just chilling on the benches and looking to the bay. Also incredible was swimming in the lake, which at this point was hovering around 1-3 degrees. Not frozen, but still ice cold.

This was an addictive cycle: sweating like crazy, dipping in the lake, then going back into the heat again.

It’s one of those things that feel great while you’re doing it, but ever greater afterwards. Also highly recommended.

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Side note: I’ve barely used my actual camera because it’s just not practical when it’s freezing outside. Now that the weather is better, I look forward to taking more photos again!

But surprisingly, my phone takes pretty good photos.

The JPEGs are over-processed and horrible of course, but the RAW files are shockingly usable. All the photos above are phone photos.

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