Helsinki Trip, Finland

Helsinki capital of Finland, including the mostly freezing weather: after all, the narrative of the film unfolds in an early winter morning, shortly before sunrise.
The range of stereotypes regarding Helsinki city has always been as abundant as the epithets of the legendary Finnish epos of Kalevala: herring, reindeer meat, saunas, and Finnish tourists who, having given a day off to any sort of moderation and preconception of reasonable behaviour, drink dry the ferries on the routes of Tallinn Helsinki and Stockholm Helsinki. After all, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who has not heard of the Nordic nation's drinking problem that has resulted In the outrageously high alcohol prices in Helsinki bars and a range of other preventive measures.The spoken genre of "Finnish tales"was still flourishing quite recently; for Instance, the former President of France Jacques Chirac took an indelicately nasty dig at the British, comparing the nation to Finland: "You can't trust people who cook as badly as that. After Finland, it's the country with the worst food."

While some things have not changed in Helsinki - the seagulls still seem to take special pleasure in covering the city's monuments in guano - the rest of the folklore regarding to Helsinki as a European province belongs to the past. It is no coincidence that the influential Monocle magazine awarded Helsinki the sixth place in its last year's list of global cities most suitable for living. With its meagre population of 565 000 and numerous helsinki parks, about a third of the city is green. The sea is right there at the front door and the local archipelago of islands just a short boat ride away. The city boasts one of the lowest migration rates in Europe: as little as 6 per cent of the inhabitants of Helsinki are not Finnish. Helsinki is by far Finland's most cosmopolitan city and, while no London or New York. It has a fabulous infrastructure and also enjoys a sort of status of a crossroad: over 1000 flights Helsinki of different airlines depart for some 100 destinations every week. Besides, although Helsinki is currently a very obviously Western-orientated city, it has lost nothing of its distinctly Finnish identity. It has not been overwhelmed by the rapid Invasion of European brands. While global names like Louis Vuitton and MaxMara are well represented, Helsinki Is a city that values Its own design above everything - and has a knack for presenting it accordingly. In the recent years, Helsinki has experienced an Impressive boom of design, style and gastronomy, and the fact alone has been enough to grant it the status of a desirable destination.

Citadel of unhurriedness

Helsinki is one of those cities that remind us that somewhere in the modern-day urban environment there is still room for rare values like calm and unhurriedness. Now, that's a feeling definitely worth experiencing! The cafe terraces are jam-packed from the first sunny spring day when the mercury has barely reached the mark of +10° Celsius -  Helsinki climate is, after all, a city where the sun is shining for an average of 1821 hours a year and the average temperature in June and July is 18-20° Celsius. Besides, Helsinki Is compact enough to be explored on foot (In the worst case scenario, hop on a tram) or on a bike. There are a many helsinki things to do. Special blkeways helsinki travel are marked practically everywhere in the city; however, unless you are in a great hurry, a bicycle sometimes seems almost too speedy a vehicle for the calm pace of the city. One of the best illustrations to this "Helsinki feel" is a visit to the Finlandia House concert hall, Alvar Aalto helsinki is the most famous building. It Is located a stone's throw from the House of Parliament and flanked by the city's main thoroughfare on one side and a park on another; behind the building there Is a small pond. A trio of local men push off from the plank way in a small wooden boat: were It not for the fact that this Is the heart of the Finnish capital, for all we know, they could be fishermen...

 To enter the rhythm of Helsinki, the best idea to start helsinki food of the day with a breakfast at Cafe Engel - firstly, their excellent special breakfast offer will set you back a mere EUR 11. Secondly, their breakfast time suits a leisurely minded traveller down to the ground: 8 am - 12 pm on weekdays, 9 am-2 pm on Saturdays and 10 am - 3 pm on Sundays. However, the real "added value"of Café Engel Is its location - opposite the Senate Square and the Helsinki Cathedral. Should you be so lucky as to get a window-side table, a camera-worthy panoramic view Is guaranteed, even more so on the sunniest days of the year when the cathedral steps turn into the city's favourite spot for sun celebration.To quote a joke by a Helsinki guide book: If the cathedral seats 1300, its steps provide room for almost as many. Besides, Cafe Engel Is housed in one of the oldest stone buildings in Helsinki; the ground floor was built in 1765 and another two were added later by Carl Ludvlg Engel (1778-1840), the architect responsible for all of the most significant 18th-century Neo-Classlclst buildings of the Senate Square: the University of Helsinki, the Cathedral and the former Senate House, now - the Palace of the Council of State. An old wooden board floor, a clock that has long since stopped counting time, students leisurely enjoying their morning coffee: the ambience of Café Engel is perfect for the beginning of a new day. Heren you can se the locals go for tea and snacks. The tables have rounded edges here -details have been given lots of thought, that much is apparent - If not in-your-face obvious, as befits a city where, after several visits to a few museum, cafe, hotel, etc. loos, you quickly realise that, In Helsinki, even a door handle is deemed worthy of the status of a functional design object.

The design route

If not that long ago Finnish design was first and foremost associated with textbook examples, from the Iconic mld-20th century Marlmekko patterns to furniture by the most prominent of Finnish architects Helsinki Alvar Aalto, today it is obvious that Helsinki fashion Is enjoying a second wave of the design boom. In 2005 the Helsinki neighbourhood in which most art galleries, style stores, restaurants and cafés are concentrated and which is also the location of the Design Museum Helsinki was officially renamed the Design District Helsinki. It comprises 25 streets; the special map of the Design District lists 170 noteworthy objects: from the loudest names In Finnish design (Artek, founded In 1935 by Alvar Aalto and his fellow-designers, and Marimekko, the classic
The recipe of success is still the same: an idea, talent and merciless toil.

The Enso-Gutzeit office building by Alvar Aalto

of textile industry) to fashion and vintage design stores, restaurants and cafes.The best and most logical starting point of the route is probably Design Forum Finland - a shop, info centre and exhibition hall completely dedicated to Finnish design. It is a unigue, live and dynamic space in which both classics and new names are represented. Among other things, the store also carries copies of A Book About Helsinki, one of the best guide books to the city, enjoying the status of a style book. The small pink almanac costs EUR 29; however, the design is so appealing that, strategically placed on a coffee table, it can well become the bait that convinces even those who have never considered visiting Helsinki that a trip to the Finnish capital might actually be a good idea. Another of the most colourful addresses of the Design District is Secco, a small shop promoting sustainable and environmentally friendly design and carrying clothing, design objects and accessories from recycled materials: bowls made of old vinyl records, belts from airplane seatbelts, bags from rubber inner tires, etc. In any case, the shop justifies its own motto: 'Treasures of Wasteland". Following the map as you wander the streets of the Design District is one option; ignoring it - another. You only have to pay attention to the round black-and-white symbol of the district in the shop, cafe and gallery windows. It may lure you to a tiny eyewear shop that turns out not to sell any Chanel or Alain Mikli products, offering spectacle frames by a small local company instead: excellent design, everything exclusively hand-made.

Gourmet destination

However, the story of the Helsinki gastronomy boom that has escalated during the last few years may even be worthier of attention than the history of Finnish design. The top helsinki restaurants can easily compete with some of Europe's finest gourmet addresses. The status of the best Finnish restaurant is currently undisputedly deserved by the two-Michelin-star Chez Dominigue.The helsinki food that could be described as a mix of excellent Scandinavian and French cuisines is quite literally a surprise. Everything is prepared only from locally sourced Helsinki is enjoying a second wave of ingredients, creating fabulous combinations of flavours and colours. Of course, the prices are unpleasantly high, albeit predictably so for the top restaurant in the city; however, during the day Chez Dominique offers an excellent lunch menu (three courses for EUR 29) - an opportunity you should not miss when visiting Helsinki. Should there still be a Doubting Thomas among you, questioning the status of culinary as an art form, do take a look at the design on your empty white plate: abstract expressionism worthy of Jackson Pollock's brush and fine cooking at its best - even empty, it has not lost a bit of its aesthetic appeal.
Demo, a tiny Michelin-starred restaurant the size of a sitting room, is likewise owned by luminaries of local gastronomy -Teemu Aura and Tommi Tuominen, culinary stars from Helsinki. The concept of the restaurant was originally created literally from nothing, thus proving once again that the recipe of success is still the same: an idea, talent and merciless toil. As the owners explained in an interview, the reason they had chosen Demo as the name for their pet project was the meaning of the term in music business: a small, concentrated and reasonably ambitious study that provides an insight into the author's technical and artistic skills.The restaurant's style was developed adapting the classic ingredients of Finnish cooking (fine, fresh and seasonal) to the principles of traditional French cuisine.The result is a real experience of taste, not lacking in national flavour.

And then there is Jaskan Grilli - one of the most colourful local eateries surviving and still open amidst all the sophisticated gourmet pleasures: a small aluminium hutch the size of a newsstand near the Parliament. The grill booth is open 7:30 pm - 4:30 am; you can meet literally anyone standing in the ever-present queue: from the local celebrities to mere mortals. Some of the dishes have been named after popular politicians, members of the parliament. The menu ranges from hotdogs to steaks, meat sandwiches and sausages, the prices - from EUR 5 to 8.The booth has been around for more than 25 years now and has witnessed all the passions of the city's nightlife - which is only natural for a place that stays open into the wee hours, when all the other eateries are long since closed. A pity, though -Jarmusch's taxi driver did not stop by that night...

Keywords: Helsinki Trip, Finland