Things just work well in Finland. For a small country with only five and a half million people and bitterly cold winters they have surprisingly been world leaders in mobile phones, cutting edge design and high speed transportation. No wonder Newsweek rated it the best country in the world in 2010.
Having just had a lens stolen in Russia I was heading back to Helsinki from St Petersburg hoping to buy a new one and catch a high speed ferry to Tallinn Estonia all on the same day. The whole trip required precise levels of timing that I thought only the Swiss could pull off and my expectations for something to go wrong were running high.
The day started at 6:45am after boarding the Allegro train in St. Petersburg and by 9:15am we were pulling into Helsinki station. The lens I wanted to replace needed to be obtained from a professional camera store and as luck would have it, the best one in all of Finland, Rajala Pro Shop, was located just 200 metres from the train station. With my wife guarding our bags at the station taxi rank, I bolted into the shop, told them in rapid fire English about having a lens stolen in Russia which they nodded all too knowingly about, and then asked for a replacement - quickly. Ten minutes later we were in a cab speeding off to the port and managed to be the last passengers boarding the 10:00am ferry before the gangway was pulled up. At 12:00 noon I was in my Tallinn hotel room. The Estonian weather forecast predicted that in the afternoon I would get the only good weather during our stay, so by 1:00pm I was out photographing the city with my new lens.
I would love to say that this kind of efficiency happens to me all the time on my travels, but alas, its the exception rather than the rule. Thank you Finland.