Finland – Helsinki is the place to be

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The harbour in Helsinki, looking towards the Swedish embassey

‘Why have you come to Finland?’

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The marina, looking inland

If we were asked once we were asked a dozen times. Finland doesn’t expect tourists it seems. Not summer tourists. Which is a shame because it has a lot to offer the discerning traveller who can afford to pay Β£3.50 for a coffee.

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The park through the centre that leads to the harbour, full of street performers and street food

Yes, it is eye wateringly expensive at the best of times but post the Brexit vote and the collapse of the pound on the foreign exchange markets it is a drain on the GDP of most nations, let alone a pensioner.

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Something Swedish – they ruled Finland for ever until the 1800s – that looks vaguely sinister

Still, it has many upsides, starting with its capital city Helsinki.

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One of two major cathedrals – I think this was Orthodox and may now be Catholic

Plus one is the relatively low rise nature of the city scape. With the exception of the really rather stunning cathedrals, most buildings squat at under 8 floors. Scale counts and while the likes of New York or similarly vertiginous cities have their place, mostly in the appointment books of physiotherapists post holiday as they manipulate twisted necks, I rather enjoy compact cities.

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Team Le Pard discussing plans

Plus two is the water and there’s a lot of it. Helsinki is on the Baltic, it is fed by rivers and the calm blue creates a serene atmosphere to counterpoint the bustle of city life.

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The museum of modern art had this tupperware exhibit… by some Korean, naturally

Plus three are the old market halls – the Kappahalle – all of which are like logcabin-delis with their fresh food and confection and consumables.

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Inside the market hall, choossing between salmon and prawns, or was it bear pate?

Helsinki, believe it or not is a Olympic city from 1952 and the Olympic Park is a feature with its statue of Paavo Nurmi still running extraordinary distances.

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Beyond that the cathedrals are worth a visit. Stunning actually.

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The ‘plain’ Lutheran Cathedral…

The white masterpiece is Lutheran, which surprises since I thought they abhorred ostentation. Meah, what do I know about organised religions.

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The Textiliste loved this – a knitted yurt inside the Museum of modern art

They persuaded the over-tithed locals to stump up for some wondrous buildings, that’s for sure.

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WTF! A Camberwell Beauty, rarely ever seen in the UK despite its name and something Dad would have wept to view – living a life in a shopping centre. Beats me.

As ever, with the Vet in tow, we ate well. The Finns are big on slow roasted everything and licorice , which you’d think, in combination would be as appealing as marmite yogurt. But it can be done and enjoyed. Sort of.

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The outside of our hotel

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No idea what these baby cynics are appraising…

Best of all was our hotel, which isn’t something I often say.

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Ok, so he had an issue with grinning demons. I mean it’s dark half the year here – kind of not surprising really

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This is just creepy, or some homage to how man developed from some primordial gollum

The Art Glo was a curio, a former school building whose interior designer had a stuffed animal fixation.

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These watched me eat my eggs – I never left a scrap

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I’m sure we were being watched by a shaman

The dining room is a gem, even if the breakfasts regularly disappointed – why do continental Europeans insist on hard boiled eggs, cold meat and bread made with tar?

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and this one whistled, I’m sure of it…

Is bacon so difficult?

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I told the whole truth and nothing but…

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I’m sure this is out of King Ottaka’s Sceptre

And don’t get me onto the tea. Perlease. It’s called black tea because it’s meant to have a colour. If I wanted scented milk, I’d ask for it.

Anyhoo, while I chuntered about bloody Napoleon and his influence I studied the carvings and wondered at the nightmares the sculptor suffered from.

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Turku won this prize for it’s ancient craft village – the golden apple, redolent of game shows circa 1975

You can use it as a base to got to Tallinn too, which the kids did but which we’d done before.

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The shops were signed pretty obviously…

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Beautifully rustic

We caught a bus to Turku, the old Swedish capital.

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I kind of took to the light-dark contrast. Very Dutch

Quaint with an extraordinary set of wooden shacks that are all that remained following a major 19th century fire.

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Something weavy but not sure what

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Ok, so Sue Vincent could use this as a prompt…

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bookbinding – probably the most colourful

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Um, something book related?

These house the original crafts which you can watch being pursued in traditional fashion. Worth the visit alone I’d say.

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The Natural History Museum – go sperm!

Go to Helsinki. I like a place with a weather vane that depicts a sperm fertilizing an egg. Shows character. Chutzpah. Β Just dont be surprised if your hosts are surprised.

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Sibelius – though his hat is a bit bizarre

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in holidays, miscellany, travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to Finland – Helsinki is the place to be

  1. That is quite a beautiful photo tour, Geoff. Such beautiful structures and art. πŸ’˜ I kinda love the gollum evolution ! ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great photos. And Sue could use a few for prompts couldn’t she! I used to sell Tuppaware (pretty hopeless at it actually) and that Modern Art looks like an awful lot of jelly moulds to me!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lady Dickson says:

    Such a quirky city! I’d love to go to Finland.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Gordon Le Pard says:

    Dad did see a Camberwell Beauty in the UK, in the garden of the museum at Alton.
    I think one of the carvings on your hotel is of the zip monster, the creature that makes the cloth of your trousers, or of your dress, catch in the zip as you are hurrying to get dressed.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. jan says:

    Such an interesting city – as I remember they’re really big on crafts, trolls and vivid fabrics. Had to chuckle over your tea remark! I’m not a big fan of tea with milk either.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ritu says:

    Looks like you had an amazing time His Geoffleship!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sacha Black says:

    I’m with the textiliste – I loved the Yurt photo too – and actually it was a very arty shot.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. M. L. Kappa says:

    Looks like a fun trip!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Was there is 2005, but only on a day trip (as part of a Baltic Cruise). We only got as far as the Olympic Stadium. Thank you for showing me the rest of the city.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Fascinating tour with some good photos. Sine most of the other statues are nude I wondered if Sibelius’s body had decomposed

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sounds like Finland has it all…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. trifflepudling says:

    If anyone had told me I would admire a knitted yurt I would’ve scoffed and blown several raspberries. However, it’s beautiful! Very kind of Scandi in concept.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Helsinki is on my bucket list, by passed it going to Lapland !

    Liked by 1 person

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