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First, some corrections and utter schizophrenia. 25% of inhabitants of Vaasa are listed as Swedish-speaking. It has not become clear to me how do the officials distinguish between them. By the chosen language for tax-related communication? By which schools are they or their children enrolled in? The bilinguals are considered Swedish-speaking.

Vanha Vaasa is not a ruin, but a suburb belonging to the city of Vaasa. There are several ruins and old buildings in the area for those who are interested. The old city of Vaasa burned down in the 1800's. The king of Sweden ordered to move the city a few miles closer to the shore, because the land had risen, and there it is now. (See Fennoscandia for an explanation why the land rises.) Only a few buildings were left after the fire. One of them was the Appeals Court House, which is a church today. The church is called the Church of Mustasaari, although that area doesn't belong to Mustasaari anymore today.

I've never understood that PR slogan "Art City Vaasa". There's a major credibility issue: AFAIK, Vaasa has only Tikanojan Taidekoti and Pohjanmaan museo, of which neither one is in any way special. For the campaign there's a logo with a sun, which refers to the fact that Vaasa is "the sunniest town in Finland". The logo features "artsy" yellow sun drawn with fast brush strokes on a purple background. There's an eccentric spiral and eight sunrays, but to me that logo looks subtlely obscene.

Stundars isn't a village as we know it, but a tourist attraction, albeit not a crowded one. (Who the hell would want to come to Vaasa?) There's some "the days of yore" style buildings and old style handicraft craftsmen. I've been there once, and what I remember is playing Bubble Bobble with the kid living there.

Here are some "interesting" facts about Vaasa. I'm not exactly from Vaasa, but from Sepänkylä in the municipality of Mustasaari. There's few hundred meters to the border.

Don't think I'd ever say I'm from Vaasa!

Vaasa is a former village of Mustasaari. The city was founded by king Gustav Wasa near Korsholman linna, the fortress of Mustasaari. Botniahalli and Raippaluoto Bridge are in Mustasaari, not Vaasa. Vaasa has taken Västervik and Gerby from Mustasaari, and is stealing all the fame.

The library of Vaasa has 71 Linux terminals with Internet access. The Microsoft Tax would've been about 350 euro per machine and rising, so they took the alternative that should've been obvious already. This is the first time in Europe when Linux is used in a library this widely.

Approx. 25% of the population of Vaasa speak Swedish. Originally a part of the Swedish of Vaasa were Wallon settles, who adopted the Swedish language when they came from today's Belgium. This is history hundreds of years ago and nearly descended into oblivion, so that the Swedish-speaking don't remember it themselves. This is the reason why the hotel in Mustasaari is named Vallonia.

Vaasa is the Wild West of Traffic in Finland, according to one policeman. The motorway and Kokkolantie (Highway 8) are places to test the top speed of your brand-new car or motorcycle. I have personally witnessed this: I and my friend were driving back home from the city. He drove 110 km/h at Kokkolantie, when the limit was 60 km/h. The record for speeding is 223 km/h, according to the police. There are unofficial speed limits, for example Sepänkyläntie has 60 km/h, the official being 40-50 km/h. I also drive 60 km/h if the weather is fine. Even buses, taxis and trucks go 60 km/h.

Next to Helsinki area, Vaasa has the most foreigners per capita, about 3%. No wonder. The Swedish Party has so much influence here, and they are fond of all sorts of minorities. Not that Vaasa would have so many foreigners that you'd see black people walking down the street all the time. You can guess if I'm a big fan of affirmative action. I'm not saying that the ethnic Swedish or the foreigners would be worse than the ethnic Finns. The result is that those who don't qualify are let in just because of the quota, like my now-former classmate. He ended up taking an extra year, whereas in a level playing field he wouldn't have got in and screw it up.

As with any city, there are many areas of the city and suburbs of varying wealth. The difference, considered nationally or internationally, is quite small. The lowest income is enjoyed by those in Ristinummi ("cross moor"), which is ironically called Slumminummi (ghetto moor). Some wise guys sell "Ristinummi Ghetto Clothing" shirts. I've lived there for a summer, and that sucked. Ristinummi has become an actually nice place to live in, but what has taken the post of the worst place is Gerby and Isolahti. I have not conducted any study on its condition, but my friend reports that the youth there consists of mostly gangsta-ass rap kids.

The rest are medium-wealth areas, because the Finnish character always avoids extremes. Palosaari, considered to be part of the city, used to be an island, but now it's headland. The University is mainly there. In the days of yore there was a saying: "Take a stone to your pocket when going to Palosaari". Today, it's a safe place. Kotiranta and Vetokannas are north or Kokkolantie (Highway 8). Huutoniemi, Teeriniemi and Kiilapalsta situated south of Kokkolantie and Sepänkyläntie. These three are practically the same area. Asevelikylä and Purola are between those roads. Then there's Suvilahti, Korkeamäki and Pukinmäki near Vaasantie (Highway 3). Those with a high income move to Mustasaari.

A song by Vaasa's own punk band, Klamydia, is named "Vaasalaiset on homeperseitä" - "The people of Vaasa are assholes". They were annoyed when the tours to other cities went well, but in Vaasa people were uninterested and in a bad mood. They criticize that they just go, sit and drink, not arranging any parties etc. They are entirely correct. Klamydia is about the only thing most young Finns know about Vaasa. They live in Kråklund, which is in the Slumminummi area.

The young of Vaasa generally don't speak the dialect of Pohjanmaa, nor any Swedish. They - as I do - speak bland, boring, dialectless general Finnish, with no hint of Swedish or Pohjanmaa dialect. Many Finns have the misconception that they'd have a dialect, especially the ones from Helsinki, because their grandmas have told them this.

Vaasa looks horrible from the window of the train. First you see just countryside, then the track enters the city of Vaasa through the industrial area of Klemettilä, so what you'll see is piles of rusting scrap metal, graffitis on the storehouses etc. On the other side of the track you see new boring apartment houses.

The first aeroplane of Finland landed on the ice near Räätälinsaari. There is a eagle statue in the place. The plane came from Germany. Today, the airport of Vaasa is the third in traffic throughput, next to Helsinki-Vantaa airport and the tourist destination Ivalo in Lapland.

The island of Vaskiluoto is between the city of Vaasa and Sundom peninsula. Rantarock, a dance music festival, is held there. In practice, brown beer bottles have a density of 2 bottles/square meter on the grass of Vaskiluoto, and loud thumping echoes 5-6 kilometers away, so I can hear it.

The usual marketroid BS can be obtained from the web site: http://www.vaasa.fi/ (graphical display, 266 MHz RAM & multimedia needed)

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