An email from Hesburger
When my mother was carrying me, she was so keen on Wimpy’s egg burgers, that had I been male, I would have been called Egbert. Consequently I have always had a preference for fast food outlets that rival the Golden Arches - Wimpy’s in the UK, Hungry Jacks in Australia and in Finland, the very tasty Hesburger chain.
It would be appropriate then, that I write these lines to you from what I think is the world’s only Hesburger Hotel… Yesterday when I arrived in Turku, the former capital of Finland and its oldest city, I could not bring myself and my technical laptop, GPRS, satellite dishes and other equipment to share an 18 bed room. So I found myself standing in a queue of the Hesburger founding city’s flagship store, and while others asked to “go large” or considered whether to get fries with it, I ordered a single room for two nights.
The room service menu consists of nuggets and cheese burgers but the hotel is better quality than its budget price tag would suggest, and best of all, it has free internet access. Which is why I am sending you an impersonal group email – because it’s not costing me anything. At least I am honest…
First of all, I must answer those queries about whether I still have all fingers and toes – Finland or at least south Finland is warm. Today I walked about without gloves and hat. All day. True I left my gloves at the hotel alongside my happy meal, but it was really warm.
Unfortunately warm can have its down sides, because at some stage it is cold enough to freeze the whole place in a sheet of ice, like stubborn cling film and the rain causes the paths to get bloody slippery, and for me to walk like a penguin (more than usual), to fall on my arse (sober for once) and to moon walk like Michael Jackson.
Two interesting things about Finland.
The Finns get naked. A lot. “Swim suits are optional” is the sign outside the local pool. Wearing any clothing in a sauna is bad practice.
Despite this openness with their bodies, the Finns aren’t great at conversation. I spent my last hours of 2004 in a bar alone, plied with whiskey and couldn’t raise a smile from a hunting male.
Mobile phones are currency here. You can buy a bus ticket by SMS (just show your confirmation message to the conductor!), purchase petrol and choose items from a vending machine. It all gets added to your bill. You can get a mobile phone contract by simply smiling and giving your name, unlike England where you have to pass over the rights to your first born.
Despite this, Nokia’s are bloody expensive here and waving your phone in the air in the town of Nokia (yes really) unfortunately does not charge its battery.
Well that’s enough of the time of you good folk who have made it this far. Thanks for listening you have been a marvellous audience….