US President Donald Trump's visit to Finland in a few days won't be his first. In April 1992, the real estate investor flew into Helsinki and spent a day in the southwest city of Rauma to explore a potential business deal.
The official reason that Trump and his new girlfriend Marla Maples gave for visiting Finland was to check out cruise ships, but the unofficial reason was that the heat was on for Trump in the US, where he was in the throes of an acrimonious divorce with his ex-wife Ivana Trump.
Far-away Finland seemed like the perfect place for Trump and his new flame to escape the media for a day or two.
Trump expressly asked his hosts to keep him out of the public eye, so a red Cadillac was waiting at the Helsinki Airport to whisk Marples and Trump off to Rauma. Shipyards in the Finnish coastal city of Rauma were producing world-class cruise ships at that time, and Trump wanted to see if they might be suited for a line of casino cruise ships he had in mind.
Partnership was not in the cards
The couple's host for the visit to the Rauma-Repola shipyards was Pekka Laxell, who told the Finnish paper Satakunnan Kansa (siirryt toiseen palveluun) during the run-up to the US presidential elections that he was left with a good impression of Donald Trump, who behaved very politely during his visit.
Laxell told the paper that the Trump he met was a very different man from the one he started seeing in the media later.
No deal was ever reached, however, because the cruise ships in question didn't meet Trump's requirements. His idea was to transform them into floating casinos, but the look of the ships in Rauma wasn't what he was after.
Trump and Maples went out dancing that night in Rauma, and the next morning they returned to Helsinki and flew to the Netherlands.