As nights start to draw in and the winter air begins to chill, my thoughts always turn east to the Nordic countries. There’s just something about thinking about those cool, crisp countries that comforts me in long winter nights. I pick up my (guiltily) beloved Nordic crime novels, hunt for episodes of The Killing and The Bridge online, watch Aki Kaurismäki movies, listen to the glacial music of Rubik, Husky Rescue and Sigur Ros, remember my many visits and plan many more.
I met up with a woman from Helsinki last week for an article forthcoming for (614) Magazine and now I am dreaming of Finnish forests and remembering the last summer I spent in Helsinki.
Walking along the craggy shoreline of Suomenlinna, an 18th-century fortress island, made me feel far removed from the city — actually only a 15-minute ferry ride away.
Ferry from Kauppatori to Suomenlinna sea fortress, where I stayed for the first half of my trip. Photo by author.
The island is peaceful; almost silent outside of ferry arrival times.
House on Suomenlinna. Photo by author.
Arriving at Market Square from the Suomenlinna ferry, you can choose from dozens of food vendors. The Old Market Hall, which dates from 1914, is best known for its fresh produce — it’s where the city’s chefs shop.
Helsinki Market Square. Photo by author.
Boat in harbour at Kauppatori. Photo by author.
Töölö Bay is circled by a jogging/walking track and rowboats usually dot the bay.
Töölönlahti Bay. Photo by author.
The beautiful old villas overlooking the water are still inhabited. The terrace of Blue Villa Cafe has views across the Bay, as well as Finlandia House, National Opera House and Kiasma art museum.
Linnunlaulu Villa. Photo by author.
The contemporary art museum, Kiasma features striking architectural design and programming.
Kiasma. Photo by author.
Cutting-edge architectural and design is, of course, at the heart of Helsinki.
Helsinki Train Station. Photo by author.
Abrahaminkatu. Photo by author.
Ruoholahti. Photo by author.
Everyday objects are designed to within an inch of their lives — including bicycles. The almost painfully hip fixed gear Jopo bicycle is the most stylish, and practical, vehicle for getting around the city.
Jopo bicycle parked in the Design District. Photo by author.
Independent record stores thrive in Helsinki, especially in the Punavuori district.
Stupido Record Store. Photo by author.
Bars, clubs, music venues and cafes are rooted in Punavuori. One of my favourites was a combination of all four: Belly on Uudenmaankatu (which I fear may now be closed). They did a cheap buffet during the day and live music in the evenings.
Belly. Photo by author.
Helsinki street scene. Photo by author.
Helsinki colour. Photo by author.