Wednesday, October 10, 2007


A most bizarre dining experience was had in Helsinki. We couldn't get into a couple of restaurants we wanted to try so stumbled upon a giant barn of a place in downtown Helsinki right near the bus station. Older gentlemen in varying stages of drunkenness swayed dangerously on the front steps. At first appearance we thought it was a country and western bar, with tractors sitting in various locations around which tables were formed. Lots of old farm implements, wagon wheels and plows, and a dance floor large enough for a group of enthusiastic line dancers to scoot a boot. The staff were surly and non committal but we finally found a table and read through the menu. It was written up with a lot of apparently tongue-in-cheek-humour, and appeared to be based on old Finnish farmhouse recipes: lots of meat, potatoes, sausage and swedes. We ordered and received two hugely-mounded plates of food, mostly potato. The rest of the clientele looked like rejects from a Billy Ray Cyrus video, with lots of mullets and cheesy clothing: The Finnish equivalent of the Nascar set. Anyway, the men's bathroom walls were completely covered in pictures of half nude pinup girls from 1960-1970 girly magazines, interspersed with advertisements for tractors.

Turns out the Zetor is a revered old Czech brand of tractor that just ran and ran. Finnish farmers could get low-powered versions of them very cheaply in the impoverished days of Finland's independence from Russia (Finland as a country was only formed in 1917 and was previously part of Sweden, followed by a stint as a Grand Duchy within Russia).

Anyway, we were glad to get out of there as the clientele and staff were equally unfriendly, and the former were mostly blind drunk.

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