Out and About in Helsinki

It’s no wonder that Helsinki was chosen as the most livable city in 2011 by Monocle’s annual Quality of Life survey. After spending just a few days there, I was ready to pack up and move. There are several reasons why I loved Helsinki. It’s a walkable city. We walked everywhere. There are wide open sidewalks and pedestrian walkways between buildings. Everything seemed to run smoothly, including the public rail system. It’s unpretentious. The skyline is modest with only a couple of recognizable rooftops on the horizon, including the immaculate white walls and green domes of the Helsinki Cathedral. Everyone was nice. Period.

I loved the emphasis on good design. Walking along the boutiques and workshops in the Design District was inspiring, if not humbling. Everywhere there was an appreciation for all things handcrafted. I even liked the weather. Granted, we were not there in the peak of winter, but it was certainly cold by Texas standards. Nonetheless, I found the cold refreshing and walking around in only 6 hours of sunlight was interesting. Here are my memories of Helsinki.

Helsinki Cathedral in the evening.
Along the harbor next to the Baltic Sea before sunrise.
At Kauppatori Market Square. The sign says it all.
Fruits and veggies inside the old market hall. You could also find fresh salmon steaks, herring and reindeer at the fresh meat stalls.
A Finnish breakfast - grilled salmon, fried herring, salty rice cake, cheese and fresh bread.
Sun's coming up. Time is about 10:30 am.
Hand knit items inside.
The Uspenski Cathedral is an Eastern Orthodox church that sits on a hilltop overlooking the city.
The golden spires of the Uspenski Cathedral.
View of the Helsinki Cathedral around noon time. This is the brightest it got during the day.
Detail from the Pohjola Insurance building, designed by Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen between 1899-1901. The motifs on the stone facade are of Nordic nature and mythology. Note to Texans: The Gulf Building in downtown Houston is designed after Saarinen’s 2nd place entry in the Chicago Tribune Tower competition.
Building across Hotel Kamp. Aarikka has a storefront in this building. Aarikka mostly designs jewelry and decorative items all of which are created in Finland.

2 thoughts on “Out and About in Helsinki

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