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Helsinki: Unexpected and Unpredictable

June 30, 2014

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Travelling for me is not only sightseeing or recreation…

Now when I am slowly (or too fast?) approaching my 30s I am more and more obsessed with philosophical thoughts. Work days and weekends, eating and washing plates, fighting ageing and extra weight, dinners and parties with friends, sometimes theatre and more rarely ballet… Between this routine kaleidoscope I often find myself wondering “Is this the life?”. Travelling helps me to get rid of the anxiety and I learn how to appreciate simple, yet beautiful things, such as gorgeous sunsets with a glass of wine, walking on paving stones that are several hundreds years old, eating sweets and not counting calories, being friendly with strangers and making new friends…

Travelling widens my outlook and allows to get rid of the stereotypes imposed by society. When I think that life treats me unfair, I remember about my trips to Asia and Africa where I saw millions of people living below the poverty line.  When I feel that I didn’t achieve anything in my life, I recall local fishermen on the isolate islands who are grateful for whatever ocean gives them for lunch.

One thing I don’t understand is when people put themselves within certain frames when they travel, such as “I go only to Europe”, or “I only stay in five star hotels with spa and room service”, and so forth. The worse are only the people who say that they don’t like to travel at all. Or those who even on vacation can’t relax and enjoy the moment. I have seen people who after holiday on a luxurious private island in Seychelles,  said that they didn’t like it, because “there was no place to go out”. I was like “Hello? you are telling me you didn’t enjoy one of the most incredible places on the Earth just because you didn’t know where to wear your Christian Louboutin shoes, which for some reason you put in your suitcase?”

Where I am going? oh yes, when Eugene (my husband) asked me whether I want to go for a one day trip to Helsinki, I immediately say yes.

To get to Finland we traveled first to Tallinn and then from there took a cruise ship called Viking Line. Despite its incredible dimensions, it was fully packed with thousands people, mainly Finns, who often go to Estonia for a weekend. The ship goes around two hours, but you will not get bored as there is so much entertainment on board – restaurants, casino, duty free shops, bars…

Finally, we arrived to this beautiful port and our hotel was just five minutes away.

 

As all other towns located by the sea Helsinki is suffering from absolutely unpredictable climate – first it can sunny and warm, then all of a sudden start rain and be windy. So be prepared for all this nature’s tricks and don’t forget to take umbrella and warm coat even if you travel in summer.

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Helsinki is a relatively small city, so it is possible to walk to all main attractions, which we didn’t fail to take advantage of:

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Seagulls feel themselves absolutely freely here, you can meet them everywhere: on the quay, in the parks and even in the city cafes, where you shouldn’t leave your sandwich unattended.

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Helsinki is incredibly clean an well maintained city. Actually you can seat on the pavement and not worry that you clothes will get dirty.

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Despite the city didn’t surprise me with outlandish architecture (in my opinion!), it is still very beautiful and eye-pleasing. Mainly it has buildings in classical and neo-classical style:

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Though design-lovers will find something really special here: the whole district devoted to them with many interesting home decor shops, design-hotels and museums. Here is the map:

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We started from the visit to Museum of Architecture and Museum of Design (two buildings but located side by side). On the first floor of the Design Museum we found permanent exhibition – perfect place to study evolution of furniture design. You will  find there some really famous pieces:

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On the second floor was the exhibition of  Henrik Vibskov – Danish fashion designer. Here I had to read all signs on the walls as to be honest I had the difficulty to understand his whimsical installations…

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For example, how would you interpret this jungle of hanged upside down black flamingoes?

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Anyway I love this kind of exhibitions as they help me to boost my own creativity and look at things differently.

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After this short cultural program we stopped for a coffee in the Klaus K hotel – another must see spot in the Design District.

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The lobby is full of quirky objects and unusual decor:

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Very interesting solution for the stairs, though because of its optical effect, I felt scared to make a step:

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Every corner in this hotel is a cozy nook, where you can relax and even read a book!

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By the way, what a beautiful styling of the bookcases:

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The culmination of design is Reception: that stunning chandelier cannot get unnoticed!

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In a design hotel even ordinary item becomes a feature:

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After our coffee we still had time for shopping and lunch before we needed to get back to the ferry. Of course I couldn’t resist attending some home decor shops. If you love Scandinavian decor, you will be totally amazed with the products you can find here:

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Modern architecture of Finland is the epitome of minimalism. Can you guess what is this building?

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If I didn’t enter inside I would never understand that this is the church. Inside the walls repeat the outer shape. No decorations, no ornaments – nothing is distracting from communication with God.

My two last surprises from this city:

1) All food was very tasty and made of healthy and quality products

2) Wonderful, friendly people – to be honest I imagined Finnish kind of gloomy sourpusses that never smile. Nothing like that – they are open, welcoming and always ready to help if see that you a little bit lost on the streets.

Have you been to Helsinki or other Scandinavian countries? What are your impressions? Looking forward to hearing your comments!

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