Some years back, I was reading an article about strange tourist attractions around the world. I don’t remember anything listed but one, and it’s a doozy: Posankka.
Posankka, who is a cross between a mazipan pig (“possu” in Finnish), and a rubber duck (“ankka”), lives in Turku, Finland. I read somewhere that Alvar Gullichsen, the artist who designed the statue, kept that design a secret until the unveiling. The finished product was controversial, with a lot of Turku’s citizens hating it. But over time, Posankka grew on them, and now it wears a Santa hat every Christmas.
Beyond the Santa hat I honestly don’t know how much of that story is true. But I happened to be planning a trip to Finland when I learned of Posankka’s existence, and, with a story like that, I couldn’t not add Turku to the itinerary. I didn’t care what else the city might have to offer. I simply couldn’t visit the country and miss the opportunity to see … this.
The day I arrived in Turku, I got settled into my lodgings, then took out my map and figured out the best route to take to get to Posankka. I rarely have a vehicle when I travel – I prefer walking, as you can stumble across all kinds of interesting things with your boots on the ground that you’d miss in a car – and as I was staying at the opposite end of the city from the statue, it was going to be a bit of a hike.
One thing you should know about me before I continue my story: I have the sense of direction of a dead homing pigeon. Couple that with the way I’m distracted by shiny things, and a 4km walk can easily end up being twice that. So although I’d started out shortly after noon, by the time I got to the area of the city where Posankka lives, it was well after dark, and my feet were getting sore. Considering my talent to get going in completely the wrong direction, I was very happy to see the statue in the distance as I crossed an overpass.
I knew the statue was near the university, so I followed my map to the campus. And that’s where I made my first mistake.
Because I get lost so often, I constantly second-guess myself, and when I came to a parking lot, I figured I’d taken a wrong turn somewhere. I saw an arched pedestrian walkway through the brick wall along one side of the parking lot, and very nearly took it, thinking it might, just maybe, get me where I wanted to be. But it wasn’t on my map, and I was afraid I’d get to the other side and not be able to figure out where I was. So I trundled back to the main road, to continue on to a street that I knew for sure would get me to my destination.
Did I mention my feet were getting sore? That’s why, a couple of blocks further along, I was stopped once again, peering at my map, trying to decide whether or not I wanted to take a chance on getting lost in what was clearly suburbia by turning off the main road several blocks early. If it worked, it would mean a lot less walking. And if it didn’t, well, it would likely mean an awful lot more.
While I debated with myself, a young woman approached and asked me what I was looking for. Not even knowing the correct pronunciation, I said, “Um. Posankka?” She seemed a little startled by my response, but started to give me directions, then stopped and offered to walk me there. I could have hugged her.
It turned out she was a student at the nearby university, and as we chatted, she asked me multiple times why I wanted to see Posankka. I struggled to give her an answer. “Because the story behind it is crazy,” seemed pretty rude, as did, “Because it’s so damn ugly.” I simply couldn’t verbalize my fascination with the statue. When she left me, I suspect she walked away thinking I was a Crazy Canadian.
And where did she leave me? On the walking path, on the other side of the arch in the brick wall alongside the parking lot.
But that’s okay, as once I got up close, I absolutely fell in love with this pig/duck hybrid, and all thoughts of sore feet or how far I had to walk back to my lodgings were forgotten. Posankka is “so ugly it’s cute” incarnate, and I spent ages taking photos and trying to figure out a way to smuggle it home.
While Posankka wasn’t my favourite meeting from this trip – it’s hard to beat Perttu Kivilaakso, after all – there’s no doubt it sits solidly in second place.