Destination: Finland

World Travel Watch: Typhoid in Fiji, Khmer Rouge Tourism in Cambodia and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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European Flesh and the American Prude

European Flesh and the American Prude Alexandra Beier/Reuters

Exploring Europe, exploring travel as a political act

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Confessions of an Introverted Traveler

Confessions of an Introverted Traveler Photo by Sophia Dembling

Sophia Dembling has a different style of traveling, and she's tired of hiding it

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Morning Links: Haka, ‘Travel as Rehabilitation,’ Taxi Gourmet and More

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Christopher Lee: ‘I Can’t Recall Visiting any Countries I Hated’

So where does one of the most omnipresent movie villains of the past half-century (who also popped up in our list of the best travel horror movies) like to go on vacation? The veteran actor recently dished to the Independent about his ideal travel experiences—and it turns out, solitude is high on his priority list.

Lee’s favorite country is Finland, “because once you get to a certain point, you can drive for hours without seeing a single person.” His worst-ever journey was a rough ride from Washington, D.C., to Charlotte, N.C.: “It was only a 45-minute flight,” he told Sophie Lam, “but I have never known anything like it—including during the war when I was shot at in planes.” And as for New Zealand, where he spent a few months during the filming of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy? It’s “the most beautiful country I have ever been to in my life.”

English Everywhere

English Everywhere REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

It's the universal, global, one-size-fits-all language. Eric Lucas says it's not enough.

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Sauna World Championships: Overlooked Olympic Event?

Those Games in Beijing you may have heard about overshadowed this year’s 10th annual Sauna World Championships in Heinola, Finland, but that doesn’t diminish the achievement of Bjarne Hermansson, who lasted an impressive 18 minutes and 15 seconds in the official sauna.

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Tags: Europe, Finland

‘Long-Neck Women’ Fight Against Confinement in ‘Human Zoos’

Photo by babasteve, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Marie Claire, The Age and the Times UK are among the publications with recent stories about the plight of the “long-neck women,” a group of Kayan refugees from Burma who are known for wearing brass coils around their necks. Tourists from around the world flock to Northern Thailand to see them, but many of the long-neck women have apparently had enough of living in a “human zoo.” Several of the women have removed their coils and are fighting to move to New Zealand and Finland, where they have been offered resettlement.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has taken up their cause, but so far no exit visas have materialized. The stories allege that the Thai government refuses to let the women leave, fearing that their departure will hurt tourism in the region.

More Travels With Conan O’Brien

Travel certainly has its comedic moments, and yes, remembering to bring your sense of humor when visiting another city, state or country is almost always a good idea, but few people intentionally set out on a trip in search of slapstick. Not so with Conan O’Brien.

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How Corrupt is Your Country? Try Counting Your Diplomats’ Parking Tickets.

That’s what economists Ray Fisman and Edward Miguel did. In what The Undercover Economist author Tim Harford called “a flash of inspiration,” Fisman and Miguel decided to see which countries’ diplomats at the United Nations in New York racked up the most parking tickets. They reasoned that, because diplomatic immunity put the diplomats in a consequence-free environment, it would be a great experiment to measure personal morality on a country-by-country basis.

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Into the Heart of Sisu in Finland

Bill Thomas visited Finland in January and, in the painfully chilly conditions, discovered the secret to surviving a brutal Finnish winter: sisu. “In the five years since my last visit I’d almost forgotten about sisu, a Finnish word for something that’s hard to translate,” he writes in a delightful story in Sunday’s Washington Post Magazine. “The equivalent in English might be ‘determination.’ Sisu, however, implies a trait much deeper in the Finnish character, so deep, in fact, that it’s best observed in the dead of winter, when added reserves are needed just to make it from one five-hour day to the next.”

Tags: Europe, Finland

Conan O’Brien: “Hasselhoff is Big in Germany, But I’m the King of Finland”

Five days in Finland turned out to be fruitful for Conan O’Brien—and Finland. I just watched last night’s “very special episode” of Late Night with Conan O’Brien, which was devoted exclusively to his brief journey through the country. It turned out to be a sweet love letter and, as expected, one of the more hilarious television travelogues I’ve seen. O’Brien, whose show is extremely popular in Finland, received a Beatlesque-greeting at the airport in Helsinki, inquired about Finnish stereotypes, scared some Chinese tourists, took a pack of sled dogs for a spin in Lapland and visited some of his fans in their homes, even going so far as attempting to repair an on-the-rocks friendship.

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Conan O’Brien Takes on Finland

The Late Night host will finally debut footage from his recent trip to Finland on tonight’s program. If you can’t wait, check out the video teaser and a series of photos he’s already posted on the Late Night With Conan O’Brien Web site. O’Brien’s trip seems to be creating some buzz for Finland tourism, and the Finnish Tourist Board is certainly trying to capitalize on it.



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Tags: Europe, Finland

Conan O’Brien: “Once I Conquer Finland, I’ll Head South Through the Baltics and On To Belarus”

I’m betting that Conan O’Brien’s visit to Finland next week will prove to be some of the best travel television programming of the year. Or at least the most amusing. The host of “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” will broadcast all week from the country and even meet with newly-elected president Tarja Halonen, whose candidacy O’Brien had endorsed based in large part on their resemblance.

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Tags: Europe, Finland

Americans, Finns and Danes Have Most Freedom to Travel Visa-Free

I’ve been spending the week in Grand Cayman working on a story and chatting with travelers and ex-pats from around the world. Twice I’ve found myself struggling to explain the United States’ ban on travel to Cuba to people understandably baffled by it. When they ask what I think, I find myself saying that whatever you think of Fidel Castro’s government, and I’m not a fan, you should have the right to visit the country and make up your own mind. Besides, the policy has proved remarkably ineffective. The man is still in power. All this was on my mind when I came across this AP headline on Citizens of Denmark, Finland, U.S. have most freedom to travel without visas. It turns out that citizens of these countries can travel to 130 countries without having to get a visa, according to a landmark report. Germany, Ireland and Sweden tied for a close second place, with their citizens able to visit 129 countries without visas.

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