CARRY YOUR WIFE & THROW YOUR PHONE & BAKE YOUR BUTT OFF
Those crazy Finns. We know they drink more than they should in winter, and given the long days of darkness you can't blame them.
But what's up with their crazy summer festivals? I got a note the other day from visitfinland.com that was filled with goofy stuff.
Wife-carrying takes place in many spots of the world, but the Finns have had a contest in Sonkajarvi (it's said to be Finnish for "my back's killing me") since 1992. They also have the 11th annual sauna championships coming up, and that sounds like something for a real athlete like myself. Apparently, you have to sit naked in a hot chamber "with buttocks and thighs on the seat," and with an erect posture (I said posture; get your mind out of the gutter), as well as elbows on the knees. The winner is the one who can hold out the longest and who can leave the sauna without outside help.
That might be the best one, but I also like the cell phone throwing contest (Finland is the home of Nokia, you recall), air guitar-playing, table drumming, team berry-picking (another manly sport) and (I think they're making this up) sitting on an ant's nest.
2010 OLYMPIC TROUBLES?
It's one thing to get a poor review from community activists, but there's something wrong with Vancouver 2010 organizers' public efforts if Americans don't know the Olympics are coming to town.
We missed it, and mea culpa for that, but my friends at the website Around the Rings report that a Visa Tourism study on Canada that I referred to last week found that only 39 per cent of U.S. respondents to an online survey knew the next Olympic Games are being held in Vancouver.
Folks in Japan and Korea, at least their VISA card holders, were much more aware, with 60 per cent saying they knew the Games were headed to B.C. China was at 55 per cent.
Mind you, with prices being what they are perhaps it's not to worry if Americans don't know about the Olympics. A press release that landed in my email basket this morning says that a group called GLP World Expedition Travel and Tours (guess all the snappy names were taken) is offering hotel packages at around $500 a night.
The Ramada Inn and Suites is the cheapest of the four they mentioned today, at $2,700 U.S. per person for six nights. A check of the old abacus reveals that's $450 U.S. per night per person; or about $540 in Canadian dineros. Yikes. The Crowne Plaza is $3,750 U.S. per person for six nights, or $740 per night in Canadian funds.
You have to pay for your way out there on top of that and for your tickets, should you somehow manage some. But the hotel package includes "private airport transfer to and from the hotel," "lounge hospitality with snacks and drinks), "a banquet dinner with big screen TV's to watch the opening and closing ceremonies, a downtown Vancouver pub crawl and "access to a ticket concierge," who no doubt will have some real bargains up his or her sleeve.
The sinking pound is good news for Canadians who want to visit the U.K. But there's another side, of course.
Canadian Press reports the latest Global Tourism Watch report from the Canadian Tourism Commission notes that "the pound is continuing to slip lower in currency markets and as a result, (UK) visits to Canada declined by two per cent during the first seven months of 2008. That compares with a five per cent increase in 2007."
On the other hand, a survey found 16 million-plus Britons remain interested in visiting Canada, partly because of personal connections. CP notes that one out of every two U.K. visitors to Canada has close friends and relatives living here; almost double the international average.