Posted by: debrakolkka | March 1, 2010

Helsinki

  I love Finland.  I must admit to some bias here.  My Finnish grandfather told me many times that Finnish men were the most handsome, strong and hardworking men in the world and that the women the most beautiful.  I grew up believing this.  On a visit to Helsinki with my son he did notice that the young women were very pretty.  He considered moving to Finland for a while.

Tuomiokirkko (Lutheran Cathedral) in Senate Square

Helsinki is a small city, full of understated Art Nouveau and neo-classical architecture,  wide streets and beautiful city parks.  I love the kauppatori (market square) down by the sea.  I’ve been twice at the time of the Herring Festival in October when little boats back up to the wharf and sell their catch.  The food in Finland is excellent, especially if you like fish.

the harbour with the food market

If you happen to be in Helsinki in the warmer months it is fun to take the ferry across to Suomenlinna, the island fortress in the harbour.  The World Heritage Listed fortress was founded by the Swedes in 1748 to protect against the Russians.  If you are on the island at around 5pm look for the huge Baltic ferries passing through the narrow gap on their way to Sweden.  There are several good cafes or you can take a picnic and find a spot among the ruins.  It is very pretty.

Suomenlinna

old bunker on Suomenlinna

The shopping is good in Finland.  Look for Marimekko on Pohjoiesplanadi 31 .  Just down the street you will find Iittala glassware and Arzberg and Arabia ceramics.  Finland, like the other Scandanavian countries is famous for its design.   Their modern architecture has been popular since Alvar Aalto began work in the 1930s.  His work can be seen all over Finland.  In Helsinki there is Finlandia Hall and if you go to the Design Museum it is possible to see a good selection of Finnish design.

Russian church in Helsinki

the green phone box

making a call

On our February trip Paul and I arrived in Helsinki to deep snow.  I’m sure the locals get sick of it but we found it exciting and beautiful.  I felt a bit of  a traitor not staying at the Klaus K, where I have enjoyed staying on past visits.  I chose the Glo this time and it didn’t disappoint.  The room was one of the largest and lovliest rooms I have ever stayed in.  The bathroom was expecially good.  The shower roses are the size of dinner plates and the water falls on you like warm rain.

snowy Helsinki

Light snow was falling as we set off to explore the city.  Our first stop was Marimekko.  Helsinki might not be the first name that comes to mind when you think of fashion, but they do fantastic fabrics and homewares.  We made our selections and the very helpful assistant arranged for our fabrics to be shipped to Australia.

frozen harbour

The harbour looked amazing with boats frozen into their winter positions.  The Russian Church dominates the harbour skyline.   We climbed up the slippery, snow covered track to admire the extravagant gold interior.

The Russian Church in the snow

gold interior

Lutheran church in the snow

The Lutheran Church in Senate  Square blended perfectly into its white winter setting.  The austerity of its interior is in stark contrast to the Russian Church.  Both are beautiful in their own way.

As well as Mannerheimintie, the main shopping street with several department stores, Bulevardi has lots of interesting small boutiques.   My favourite is Nina’s at Bulivardi 13, a tiny shop that carries Dries van Noten, Jamin Puech, Marc Jacobs and many other delightful things.

Nina's in Bulivardi

We had dinner at Juuri where we had delicious Finnish food.  We chose egg cheese, a wonderfully salty dish, followed by salmon for me and reindeer for Paul.

Juuri Restaurant

All too soon our Helsinki visit was over, but I will be back in May for my first spring in Finland.

Helsinki railway station

Snow is such a novelty for us, we were happy to trudge around in it. I imagine it could become a bit tiresome after a while.

a frozen doorway

 The snow makes even ordinary objects look quite beautiful.

icicles

It was very cold for us, about zero. The week before we arrived it had been minus 20. We were lucky.

the frozen harbour

 

Glo Hotel  www.palacekamp.fi

Klaus K Hotel  www.klauskhotel.com


Responses

  1. I am inspired to return to Finland, it has been many decades since I visited and JP has never been. Thanks for this Roz

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  2. Thank you for your beautiful words about Helsinki. Heli

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    • It was easy to write about Helsinki. I love it!
      Deb

      Like

  3. […] there. It has been fine an sunny almost every time I have been there (except once when there was deep snow, and this was great too). It is such a beautiful city, I could just wander there for hours. the […]

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