Lahti translates as 'bay' and 'slaughter' and is built on the site of a battlefield which saw many Finns fall, or at least that's what someone told me. My previous experience of Lahti had been the bus station and the bright neon signs of the main street, and I wasn't sure there was much else.
To explore Lahti the best place to start is the ski slopes which double as a tourist attraction during the summer. I was assured that once I got to the top I would see the whole of Lahti, but being worried by heights I had to be brave.
The first hurdle to negotiate was the ski lift (having never been skiing I hadn't been on one before). It wasn't that bad, but I won't make a habit of it. Following that, there's the lift to the top of the ski jump. I stepped out of the lift with a nervous anticipation. The view was superb, I managed to locate the mythical harbour which I was assured was there but had never seen. I braved the edge of the ski jump and peered down. It didn't look that bad until I remembered that there was a biggish gap between the part where your feet leave the floor and the undercovered swimming pool at the bottom. With this in mind and looking again, ski jumpers are either very brave or very stupid.
Having found the harbour I made my way towards it and the other end of Lake Paijanne, the second biggest lake in Finland, which has the top end in Jyvaskyla. On the harbour is the Sibeliustalo, a building dedicated to the composer. It's an incredible building in which an old disused factory which stretches into a massive glass building. It has the appearance of being incomplete, but is quite amazing.
Walking back towards the centre there is a wooded hill. On first appearances it looks like a normal hill which wouldn't get two looks, but don't be fooled, it is one of Lahti's secrets. Firstly, it is a pleasant walk away from the speedy life and secondly, amongst the trees are some brilliant sculptures by Waino Aaltonen. The sculptures look like they are made out of wood but are actually made out of cement or clay. They are figures, some sitting and some reclining, deep in thought. I thought that it would be a bad place for someone to take LSD.
One of the other sights is the church, also designed by Aaltonen. In the roof it incorporates the ski slopes which Lahti is famous for, and in the garden is an imposing, angel-like statue watching over the memorials.
Lahti is a two-faced town, slaughter by night and lovely city near the bay by day. Nightime is a dangerous time. The Finns love to drink and no more so than in Lahti (here the reference to 'slaughter' comes into effect). While walking past the pubs I saw a couple arguing: this stick woman was giving a brickhouse of a partner a real hiding, physically and verbally. Whilst queuing up outside the city's main club, 'Diva' you get to see the real Finns, drunken and physcial.
Lahti at night feels very hostile compared to Jyvaskyla. The police in Lahti appear because they have to, the police in Jyvaskyla appear because it's their job, they have no need to.
Lahti has its sights and attractions but it's just a case of taking the time to finding them.