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message 1: by Robert (new)

Robert | 6 comments James Thompson posted on Facebook that a critic felt that the Inspector Vaara series might scare people from visiting Finland. Thompson found it funny, and pointed out that he was on the Finnish Tourism board. My wife and I just returned from a visit to Scandinavia -- Copenhagen, the Norwegian fjords, Oslo and Stockholm. No Finland on this trip, but the visit was my suggestion based on exposure to the region through the novels of Nesbø, Mankell, Thompson and others. Has anyone had the chance to visit Scandinavia recently, and was your visit inspired at least in part by your love of Nordic Noir?


message 2: by Carrie (new)

Carrie (carriele1216) | 20 comments I have not been to any Scandinavian countries yet but I would definitely love to visit. Reading novels by Nesbo, Mankell, Thompson and others have piqued my interest in these countries even more. I think it's a bit silly to think that Nordic Noir novels would have any significant negative impact on tourism to these countries. If anything, I would think the Nordic Noir novels might inspire more people to visit since most of them are so descriptive when it comes to terrain description and cultural customs!


message 3: by Naomi, the Sanity Check (new)

Naomi (nblackburn) | 932 comments the critic who sites that must think that readers are too stupid to seperate fact from fiction. I don't know if it was a professional reviewer, but if it was, just another example of a blowhard professional reviewer! Not a professional reviewer, than just a closed minded reviewer who can't seperate fact from fiction! Also, with that mindset, then readers should do nothing but sit in their homes because crime books are set EVERYWHERE in the world!


message 4: by Ken (new)

Ken Fredette (klfredette) You've blown my mind Naomi! Is this the right topic you're in?


message 5: by Carrie (new)

Carrie (carriele1216) | 20 comments Naomi wrote: "the critic who sites that must think that readers are too stupid to seperate fact from fiction. I don't know if it was a professional reviewer, but if it was, just another example of a blowhard pro..."

Well said!


message 6: by Naomi, the Sanity Check (new)

Naomi (nblackburn) | 932 comments Kenneth wrote: "You've blown my mind Naomi! Is this the right topic you're in?"

Um, is that a good thing, Kenneth, or a bad thing?


message 7: by Naomi, the Sanity Check (new)

Naomi (nblackburn) | 932 comments And dang it, my comment regarding why I want to go to the Scandanavian countries is missing! Particularly related to the ice bar in Finland, I believe! All Ice, even the glasses! Nuf said!


message 8: by Anna, the Enabler (last edited Jun 11, 2012 11:09AM) (new)

Anna (aetm) | 192 comments The ice bar is in Stockholm. And the ice castle perhaps started in Kemi, Finland, but the famous one is - also - located in Sweden, in Jukkasjärvi. (The Swedes market even those better!) - but do visit Finland since at least the pub, Hilpeä Hauki, and the places detective Vaara visits are there. ;)

Heh, NOT visiting places because some scary good literature comes from and is located there? That's news to me :)

That critic for sure had no cluse how much the Stieg Larsson effect has also influenced the tourism in Sweden. Last year I saw a movie length documentary about Larsson in the Scandinavian Film Fest here in Austin (and I tried to find a copy of the documentary to buy - couldn't find one, bummer. A real good documentary too), and in it they mentioned that the tourism in Stockholm had increased even 30 % because of it.

I have no clue if the other authors like Nesbø or Thompson will cause a similar effect or not. But when you like a series of books, and the places mentioned are located somewhere, if you end up wanting to visit the country and the city anyway, why not see how those places look like? If I'll visit Oslo some day, I'm not expecting to find the same Oslo Harry Hole knows (I would be quite scared of that). I wouldn't expect to visit the same LA that the other Harry (Harry Bosch) knows. And I would not expect to find the same Helsinki inspector Vaara knows - no wait, I do, but maybe not always with that many colorful characters :) (By the way, there was an article in some UK newspaper about touristing in Helsinki, where they scared the UK tourists that Kallio would be a dangerous suburb. What bull. I tried to find the same funny article again, but can't google fu it anywhere. Bull says I, having gone to school in the same 'burb).

I've only been to Finland and Sweden (and crossed Denmark in a car but didn't really stop anywhere), but will have to see Norway at some point. Not because of Harry Hole but some friends. :)

-- edit: in case that critic with the noir negatively influencing the tourism would find himself here, then perhaps blame Harry Bosch - I mean Michael Connelly - for my lack of desire to visit Los Angeles. ;)


message 9: by Dee, the Insanity Check (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 652 comments I've quite often read books set in other countries that I have made me want to visit that country - for example Daughter of Smoke and Bone described Prague in such a way that I would love to visit there. There are even businesses in Scotland that do the "outlander" tour where you visit the places that are featuring in Diana Gabaldon's series


message 10: by Robert (new)

Robert | 6 comments I've been to an Ice Bar in both Copenhagen and Stockholm -- they are a chain:
http://www.icehotel.com/uk/ICEBAR/

Try the vodka/champagne/raspberry drink called the Toolbelt, ToolCase, something like that. Expensive but fun. If we could post photos here I'd upload some from our visit to the Copenhagen Icebar, including one of the ice glasses.

As I understand it the annual ice hotel is in Finland.


message 11: by Robert (new)

Robert | 6 comments If I'll visit Oslo some day, I'm not expecting to find the same Oslo Harry Hole knows

The Oslo I visited didn't resemble Hole's Oslo at all. And why should it, as both are fictional. One is made up for readers, the other for tourists. Most Norwegians would likely find Hole's Oslo as alien as Harris' (mine).


message 12: by Ken (new)

Ken Fredette (klfredette) With the missing data it's a good thing Naomi. I couldn't understand what you were saying. Two strokes makes it kind of hard to follow sometimes.


message 13: by Anna, the Enabler (new)

Anna (aetm) | 192 comments No matter which ice hotel (or ice castle... The Finnish one was/is an ice castle so no rooms to rent, at least years ago when I visited it) in Scandinavia - it's winter only so every year anew design.


message 14: by Naomi, the Sanity Check (new)

Naomi (nblackburn) | 932 comments No, this one was a bar. It was featured on "Drinking Gone Wild", plus I read about it in some other things. Might have even seen it on Rick Steves Europe. The outside looks like a regular building. It is what they have done with the inside. It was def. in one of the Scandanavian countries though.


message 15: by Anna, the Enabler (new)

Anna (aetm) | 192 comments Yes, the ice bar is in Stockolm. This one? (It's the real one)
http://www.nordicseahotel.se/en/The-h... and more photos of it
http://www.google.com/search?q=ice+ba...

I wanted to go there when I visited Stockholm in 2005 but I didn't have enough time. Oh well, maybe one of these years...


message 16: by Naomi, the Sanity Check (new)

Naomi (nblackburn) | 932 comments I think that is it..I have to see the Sea Bar which was unbelievable!


message 17: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments I'm sorry Robert, that's the opposite of what I said. I wrote that I am NOT employed by the Finnish National Board of Tourism. Meaning that I'm under no obligation to write novels that read like upbeat travel brochures.

That said, it's too bad you didn't make it to Finland. It's a beautiful country with a fascinating culture.
Best, Jim


message 18: by Katarina (new)

Katarina (kdgr) | 19 comments Robert wrote: "[...]Has anyone had the chance to visit Scandinavia recently, and was your visit inspired at least in part by your love of Nordic Noir?"

Last year I was fortunate to visit Norway and experience 11 days of the "Midnight Sun", plus three weeks slightly south of that, so not much darkness. I'd love to visit and experience the reverse in the winter. The previous year, I visited Denmark, Sweden and Finland. For me, it was visiting Scandinavia which inspired me to seek out Nordic Noir, not the other way round.


message 19: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments That's cool, the way everyone should do it if they could.


message 20: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments Anna wrote: "The ice bar is in Stockholm. And the ice castle perhaps started in Kemi, Finland, but the famous one is - also - located in Sweden, in Jukkasjärvi. (The Swedes market even those better!) - but do v..."

The thing about Kallio being a dangerous place is likely quoted from an old tour book. Sure, there are some derelicts, but they're sitting ouside, boozing in the best neighborhoods too. Kallio has been my home turf for 14 years. I liked it better when it was more blue collar. It's being gentrified by the minute. As long as I live in Helsinki, I suspect Kallio will always be home to me. - Jim


message 21: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments Anna wrote: "Yes, the ice bar is in Stockolm. This one? (It's the real one)
http://www.nordicseahotel.se/en/The-h... and more photos of it
http://www.google.com/se..."


Actually, there's an ice bar in Helsinki. It's inside a normal bar, the name of which escapes me at the moment, but it's easy enough to find. One of my buddies works it from time to time. He says it's hard to make cocktails with gloves on, but it's a big club and the bartenders rotate in and out every half hour.


message 22: by Naomi, the Sanity Check (new)

Naomi (nblackburn) | 932 comments I knew it was in Finland!! There is that cool one in Stolkholm too. That Sea Bar is amazing...!


message 23: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments I was drinking at Hilpeä hauki last night. Everything I describe in Kallio is accurate.


message 24: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments Naomi wrote: "I knew it was in Finland!! There is that cool one in Stolkholm too. That Sea Bar is amazing...!"

There are really good seaside patio bars in both Stockholm and Helsinki. It's all too easy with the long days to sit for many hours, slurping beer in the sun, after the long winter.


message 25: by Naomi, the Sanity Check (last edited Jun 13, 2012 09:56AM) (new)

Naomi (nblackburn) | 932 comments The one I am talking about is inside a bar. It has a huge swimming pool and the walls are giant aquariums with tropical fish in them. The pool is then surrounded by warm weather folliage. They basically set up the caribbean in this huge bar. People come in after work and change into their swim suits and basically drink at the bar. I have to find that episode of "three sheets" that is his european show..


message 26: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments I dunno. It sounds like a spa in Levi (SNOW ANGELS settting), but they didn't have an ice bar last time I was there, but they've expanded a lot over the past couple years. Probably in Stockholm. When you think about it, it's not too hard to build an ice bar. I was just in the shower thinking about this thread. This is SO dangerous a time of year for us. We've been inside all winter, because of the sun, time seems to stand still, and most people take a month vacation in either June or July (I haven't had a vacation in 3 years). But anyway, it's easy to say screw it, I need to sit in the sun, go to a patio (here it's called a terrace), the hours pass, the beers keep coming, as does the sunburn. End result: burnt to a crisp and whacked. Next day: lobster skin and dog sick. I make that mistake every 2-3 years, when enough time passes and the lesson is forgotten, plus your friends congregate with the same feelings show up and make it hard to leave. "Oh. let's take just one more." I'm glad I'm a winter person. Some do that all summer long (Well, it doesn't last more than a blink of an eye anyway). And I AM TAKING A VACATION. Going to Semana Negra, the noir festival in Gijon Spain, for a week.


message 27: by James (last edited Jun 13, 2012 10:49AM) (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments James wrote: "Naomi wrote: "I knew it was in Finland!! There is that cool one in Stolkholm too. That Sea Bar is amazing...!"

There are really good seaside patio bars in both Stockholm and Helsinki. It's all too..."


Tip: when you go to the touristy places in Stockholm and you want to pay with a card, they may have a minimum charge, so either ask or plan on having a couple. Last time, my wife's Swedish is better than mine, but the waitress spoke no English and the wife got to flustered to answer. I just said fine, we'll have another beer. They'll take you in the old town (tourist area) if you're not careful. That said, Stockholm has changed in ways that I don't like. Downtown has malls with the same global chain stores and I feel like I could be anywhere, but despite ripoff prices, I do feel comfortable and like being in the old town (meaning medieval).


message 28: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Thanks all....what a delightful discussion to follow. Enjoyed that.


message 29: by Anna, the Enabler (new)

Anna (aetm) | 192 comments Wait, there's an ice bar in Helsinki? :o where? Might have to try on the next trip....
(There is also some sort of a tiki bar that I saw in No Reservations' Finland episode. Maybe Kokomo? At least the rough location like around Uudenmaankatu would match. That also seems so kitschy to try it on the next trip)

I wonder how old the guide books would have been where they took those Kallio warnings? When I went to high school there I'd have never considered that place dangerous.

And shoot, y'all, for any touristy tips for what to see in Scandinavia, as in what you liked to see or would like to see :)


message 30: by Katarina (last edited Jun 13, 2012 04:14PM) (new)

Katarina (kdgr) | 19 comments Apart from the "main" attractions In Helsinki:
The Helsinki Zoo is worthwhile. The Zoo runs its own boat to it, which is a lovely way to get there.
The Sibelius monument in Sibelius Park is very interesting.
Just wandering about Helsinki is wonderful. So much to see and a very easy city to walk around.

Not Scandinavia, but Tallinn, Estonia, is a very doable day trip from Helsinki. Nice ferry ride. Though I'd recommend staying a couple of nights. Make sure you book if you are going to Tallinn on a Friday night or going to Helsinki on a Sunday night. These are very popular times as a number of Estonians work all week in Finland and return to Estonia for the weekend.

Speaking of ferry rides, the overnight ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki is a lot of fun. But make sure you book if you're planning on going on a Friday night. It is a popular trip for young people because alcohol can be bought on board dutyfree. A group of them will take a cabin, party all night long (saving money each sip they take ;-)), then sleep in the cabin during the day, and party all night on the way back. They may be a little rowdy at times, but otherwise are very well behaved. Before we set sail, a couple of students knocked on our cabin door and told us that if they got too noisy, just to knock on their door and tell them to turn it down.


message 31: by Katarina (new)

Katarina (kdgr) | 19 comments Stockholm:
The Vasamuseet is a must. Even if you are not into ships. I was dragged there kicking and screaming. In the end, I had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, out of there. ;-)
Hint: Have a very quick look at the ship first, then see the movie on finding it and restoring it. It will make the visit.


message 32: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments Anna wrote: "Wait, there's an ice bar in Helsinki? :o where? Might have to try on the next trip....
(There is also some sort of a tiki bar that I saw in No Reservations' Finland episode. Maybe Kokomo? At least ..."


I forget the name of the nightclub the ice bar is in. It's easy enough to find, right downtown, just ask someone with a better memory than me. Kallio WAS a dangerous place, stemming back to the post WWI prohibition. And when I moved there 14 years ago, there were a lot more juicers and junkies hanging out in summer. In reality probably no more than most places, but they tended to congregate in the square in Sörnäinen (locally known as Speed Square)and a couple other places, and still do to a lesser extent and so are more visible. And just down the hill, on Aleksiskivenkatu, maybe 20 years ago, hookers congregated and the night traffic was slow-driving sex shoppers. But they're gone. A 2 room apartment in the area now goes for about a quarter of a million euros, if that tells you anything.


message 33: by Anna, the Enabler (new)

Anna (aetm) | 192 comments I guess it also depends on the time of the day. I took the underground to get to school, and entered/exited it always in Helsinginkatu, so basically the same square. But I rarely was around there after 7 PM, since the last lessons were only until 6 PM. :)

Here's a few of my travel ideas for anyone who might want to visit Finland (in addition to those already mentioned):
- try a smoke sauna (it's on my list of todos - never been to one. That's the most old-fashioned and most 'proper' somehow of the sauna variations present in Finland). The closest one to Helsinki is probably this, in Vantaa (30 min in bus?)
http://www.jaakarhut.fi/node/146
- for a more normal sauna (and nice swimming), try the ones in Yrjönkatu, or in Kallio, or for a more spa like one in a nice city swimming pool in Itäkeskus http://www.hel.fi/hki/liv/en/sports+f...
- if you go in the winter time, and want to try something more exotic with your sauna, try swimming in a hole in a frozen lake. Again, the closest one to Helsinki is probably at Otalampi (Espoo) so not too far. The Finns will lie to you that after 5 minutes "it will not be so cold any more" or that "you'll feel warm in 5 minutes" - it's all lies. After 5 minutes of your quick dip in the water, it's still freezing cold, just not as miserably freezing cold. But I guess that could be on the list of 'stuff to try once' ... - an improved version: after a sauna in winter, make some snow angels in snow. :p not that miserably cold... then back to sauna again. (Rinse and repeat until you've had enough. Then have some refreshment)
- Find some local food. In smaller cities what you tend to find is kebab and Turkish pizzerias with very Finnish taste combinations (ham and pineapple? On a pizza, yuck), and some chains of mediocre tex-mex. So do some research... for Helsinki, Olo and Muru seem to be popular of the newer Finnish cuisine, but those probably need reservations.
- Of course, visit some place you recognize from some books you like (if those places exist in the real life). Like some coffee place or pub that your favorite heroes or villains frequent
- Visit Turku for a day or two (older than Helsinki)
- then visit one other city than Helsinki or Turku (Vantaa and Espoo are not really cities, they are endless suburbs for Helsinki, so pick some other city a bit further), and spend a day there or drive around. Now you have seen an Any City over there - they all look the same, have the same stores all over, mostly the same architecture, same about everything... (and when you tell the people in that Any City that, they get mad and whine that that idea must have come from someone who has only lived in Helsinki)
- Some ideas how to annoy the Finns: if you are a female, wear a dress or a skirt, ideally a very feminine one, and with high heels. For either gender, smile a lot (if someone's smiling, the old joke goes that he's drunk, crazy, Swedish speaking Finn, foreigner, or all of the above), in downtown Helsinki wonder where the downtown is (they think it's a metropolis)... that should do for starters. ;)

This is a brilliant source for other ideas http://wikitravel.org/en/Helsinki and I'd expect the same depth to be present for the other countries and cities around Scandinavia too, like http://wikitravel.org/en/Stockholm etc


message 34: by Ebba (new)

Ebba | 2 comments If you go to Scandinavia you should visit the island Gotland, south east of Stockholm. You either fly there or take a ferry from a harbor an hour south of Stockholm. Gotland is very beautiful, with long white beaches, limestone quarries, a medieval town and lots of little antique shops in the barns of the country side. The north of the island is full of fishing huts where you can buy delicious smoked fish. The nature differ a lot between the south and the north of the island, even though the island is not that big.. maybe a four hour drive from the northernmost part to the southernmost. There are tons of medieval churches and best of all: two of Sweden's best crime authors (Jungstedt and Jansson) write solely about Gotland and they combine nordic myth in their stories and make the very picturesque settings horrifying :) Gotland also has the best climate in entire Sweden, with less rain than for example the west coast.


message 35: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments Anna wrote: "I guess it also depends on the time of the day. I took the underground to get to school, and entered/exited it always in Helsinginkatu, so basically the same square. But I rarely was around there a..."

All good advice! And yeah, the hundreds of towns that seem like they were made with the same cookie cutter is weird.


message 36: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments Yeah, spending the day at the zoo in Helsinki is fun. It's nice to be surrounded by islands. Suomenlinna (the Finnish Fort) is a big island and the ferry runs about once an hour. It's full of history and not to be missed. I try to go at least once a year, sit on the cliffs over the sea and have a picnic.


message 37: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments The booze cruises to Tallin and Stockholm. People get SO WHACKED. It's fun to watch. And everyone should eat dinner on the cruise ships' buffet at least once. I've never seen 50-100 separate menu items anywhere else, many which a foreigner will never have tasted before. Guaranteed, you'll eat yourself sick.


message 38: by Katarina (last edited Jun 16, 2012 03:25AM) (new)

Katarina (kdgr) | 19 comments James wrote: "The booze cruises to Tallin and Stockholm. People get SO WHACKED. It's fun to watch. And everyone should eat dinner on the cruise ships' buffet at least once. I've never seen 50-100 separate menu i..."

Not to mention the entertainment on offer. The Flying Tenors need to be seen to be believed. Yes, two tenors hoisted into the air on wires by the seat of their pants (or that's what it looks like), performing Nessun Dorma while a Chinese acrobat accompanies them on silk ribbons.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0RuPP...

Actually, that's not the right one, but it still is...something.


message 39: by Dee, the Insanity Check (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 652 comments this is making me want to go all the more!! ugh!!


message 40: by Anna, the Enabler (new)

Anna (aetm) | 192 comments Oh yes, the ... boats between Finland and Sweden or Tallinn are a legend. As the Italians would call one of those boats, un "trombonave". Glad to see they've put some information in English too :) http://www.trombonave.com


message 41: by Katarina (new)

Katarina (kdgr) | 19 comments This was the one I was looking for... The Flying Tenors and Chinese Acrobat performing Nessun Dorma.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCrDI1...


message 42: by Naomi, the Sanity Check (new)

Naomi (nblackburn) | 932 comments Dee wrote: "this is making me want to go all the more!! ugh!!"

How 'bout it, Dee?!?!


message 43: by Dee, the Insanity Check (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 652 comments lol, I would say road trip, but it would take much more than roads to get us there...see, this is why I need to be stationed in europe on one of my duty rotations


message 44: by Naomi, the Sanity Check (new)

Naomi (nblackburn) | 932 comments And an ocean..don't forget the ocean! I am a strong swimmer, but not that strong!


message 45: by Dee, the Insanity Check (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 652 comments you mean you don't want to try and swim the Atlantic?


message 46: by Naomi, the Sanity Check (new)

Naomi (nblackburn) | 932 comments Ah, no, plus I am terrified of sharks!


message 47: by Dee, the Insanity Check (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 652 comments ahh, we'll get you a shark cage ;)


message 48: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments Hi Dee. Where are you stationed now? And what branch are you in? I was in the army when I was a kid, fractured my hip the week before jump school at Bragg and got a one way ticket home. The small lifetime disability checks don't suck. The lifetime pain does. Walking funny a mild incovenience. That's me. Writer and disabled vet.


message 49: by Dee, the Insanity Check (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 652 comments i'm in DC right now and in the Navy, I should be heading back to sea sometime next year - pending a transfer board, and kind of hoping to get a ship that does the Med deployments vice the Gulf - which I have seen more than enough of


message 50: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments Dee wrote: "i'm in DC right now and in the Navy, I should be heading back to sea sometime next year - pending a transfer board, and kind of hoping to get a ship that does the Med deployments vice the Gulf - wh..."

DC does sound like a much better duty station than the Gulf.


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