Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Loving Helsinki

Smultronställe is one of my favourite Swedish expressions. Literally, it's a place where wild strawberries grow. In its more commonly used figurative sense, it's a beloved, treasured place - usually off the most-trodden paths.

Unlike the best berry-picking places, which are never made public, my favourite spots in Helsinki are not terribly secret. Some of them are even on the most trodden tourist trails, like this one:

This UNESCO World Heritage site really deserves its place on the tourist itineraries.
Pack a picnic, hop on the ferry, and take at least half a day to explore and enjoy the islands of this old fortress. 
And please walk all the way around Kustaanmiekka.
Oh, and if you forget the picnic, there are cafés and restaurants on the island - check the website for details.

Another great island to visit. Literally "Magpie Island", it's a home to many kinds of birds and other wildlife, and there are small exhibitions about the Baltic Sea, too. Sometimes, there are also nature courses or guided tours. So, it's a good place for an educational trip - and also just for fun. Walk around (on the marked trails), observe, and enjoy the nature.
Check out the details and the boat timetables from the website, and remember to pack that picnic, too.
And when you come back from Harakka, buy an ice cream from the booth of Helsingin Jäätelötehdas on the seafront. The price may seem high but their scoops are really big :) #icecreamforlunch

I visited this library a lot when I was studying at Helsinki University. They have a large department of books in English, including the British Collection (donated by the British Council), and the building is just beautiful. I especially love its interior, the "book tower" with winding stairs and the balconies with bookshelves...
(I'm sorry I don't have pictures of the interior.) 

I don't suggest you pack a picnic when you go to the library... :) Browse the library to your heart's content, then have the picnic at the nearby Esplanadi Park. And since this library is in the centre of Helsinki, there are lots of cafés and restaurants to choose from, if you like. 

Ex-landfill, now the highest hill in Helsinki.
Ultra runners and other crazy sportspeople use it for hill training. (Like these guys, who are training for mountain races.) Well, regular walkers also come here.
Wikipedia says there are 426 steps, but you can also use one of the paths to get to the top, which is what I personally prefer - trying to fit my stride length and rhythm to the steps gets a bit awkward.
 This picture was taken this spring; when the summer comes and trees get their leaves, it's prettier...

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