tableofcolors

Simple pleasures

Tag: suomenlinna

All of my favorite places

by tableofcolors

Summer is almost here and perhaps some of you are planning a trip to Helsinki. The city offers many young people summer jobs and so many young adults flock to the city and during their off-hours enjoy the parks and everything that summer has to offer.

Part of my job is to know what others are doing in the coffee shop and café business. So whenever I have a day with meetings in Helsinki, I dive into the city and find the places that people on social media are buzzing about and see if they are as good as they are claimed to be. Here are some of my most recent finds.

Street performers in Helsinki

Street performers in Helsinki

The street performance above took place just across the street from the famous Stockmann’s department store which is like Helsinki’s Selfridge’s and the clock in front is a popular meeting place. In the summer there are many street performers in the downtown area. Sometimes it seems like there is one on every corner. Almost like free little concerts and among them you may choose a performer which best fits your taste.

helsinki street performers

Along the Esplanad, which is a parkway right in the center of town can be found Café Esplanad, known for their gigantic cinnamon rolls that should almost be shared. But less than a ten minute walk away situated at Bulevardi 9 is The Grand Old Dame of Helsinki Cafés, the Ekberg Bakery and Café that has been around since 1852. The bakery and café both have their own entries but are situated right next door. The first time I walked into the door of the bakery, I breathed in a smell from childhood. It smelled just like the Wuollet Bakery.

ekberg collage

Ekberg and their Napoleon

If you were to continue the walk down Bulevardi to the harbor area there are some old brick factory buildings that have gained a new purpose. Moko Market and Kaffa Roastery are treasures of a place that I will certainly be returning to and are located at Perämiehenkatu 10. Moko Market has a café and fresh salads and lunches daily along with a large interior design store. Right next door and sharing a walk-through doorway on the inside is Kaffa Roastery. They pride themselves with their expert knowledge in coffee. Today the old industrial area is part of the trendy design district.

Moko Market

Moko Market

mokomarket cafekaffa roastery

Returning from the scene of the old factories there is another treasure of a place that even won an award for their ambience. Fleuriste is located on Uudenmaankatu 13. It is tiny but so cozy and you may stop and enjoy their French influence in this quiet little niche right in the heart of the city. In addition to their lovely things to eat, the owner makes beautiful flower arrangements to order.

Fleuriste

Fleuriste

Or you could take their Fleuriste’s lovely homemade sandwiches or sweet treats to the Old Church parkway, just a few blocks away right on Bulevardi and neatly tucked away from the main drag, Mannerheimintie.

Vanha Kirkko  or Old Church taken in to use in 1826 and designed by Carl Ludvig Engel, Lönnrotinkatu 6

Vanha Kirkko or Old Church taken in to use in 1826 and designed by Carl Ludvig Engel and can be found at: Lönnrotinkatu 6

Just a stone throw’s away is Hotel Torni at Yrjönkatu 26, which was for years the tallest building in Helsinki. It has a colorful history full of politicians and celebrities. Today there is a sky bar that has a wonderful view over Helsinki. Taking the elevator up and climbing the round staircase to the top is free and on both sides there a large outdoor patios. Definitely a place to go visit. And as you can see from the cityscape, the Old Church is just below.

Hotelli Torni, cityscape of Helsinki

Hotelli Torni, cityscape of Helsinki

If you might have a few days of time I would recommend using an afternoon to visit Suomenlinna which is the fortress right off of Helsinki. There is ferry that takes off at the Market Square about every twenty or thirty minutes and the ride takes about 10 minutes to the island.

Suomenlinna

Suomenlinna

A twenty-five minute bus ride (bus 24, leaving from Lasipalatsi) will bring you Seurasaari which is a free outdoor museum on a little island with a bridge connecting it to mainland. It is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic if the weather if fair and learn a little about Finnish history as there are many old dwellings brought from all over Finland that have been reconstructed on site.

Seurasaari

Seurasaari

These are some of my favorite places, and I feel the list could go and on. So I’ll leave you with a couple of newcomers that just opened their doors to customers during the past couple of months.

The Cock

The Cock, Fabianinkatu 17

 The Cock is a high class neighborhood eatery and a place that I would like to revisit. They serve breakfast until 10 am and their lunch menu looks delicious. They are open into the evening so really any time of day will do.

friends & brgrsWhile I normally don’t mention fast-food, I do need to mention Friends & Brgrs, located on Mikonkatu 8 right in downtown Helsinki. They pride themselves on housemade mayo, using never-frozen beef and making each burger to order. Their fries are homemade using a special process and when I stopped by at lunch time the place was hopping. Be prepared to wait twenty minutes for your burger. I thought it was worth the wait.

grass-fed beef burger with onion and aoiliAnd this is my Friends & Brgrs inspired home-made burger made with grass-fed organic (never-frozen-directly-from-the-butcher) beef with aioli, baby kale and carmelized onions. Oh, and a slice of manchego cheese.

 

Welcome to Helsinki!

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Girls like treasure hunts too

by tableofcolors

I have chatted with my friend that often when women take off for the weekend, we have the longest list of things that need to be accomplished. A lined water-proof fall jacket for one, rubber boots for another, underwear for the whole family, indoor gym shoes for our oldest, socks for myself and the list goes on and on. When we return home from our treasure hunt we are not necessarily well rested and possibly a bit crabby because so much money was spent, even if it was due to necessity.

This time we decided to take our girls on a treasure hunt around Helsinki. We were not necessarily hunting for material things (even though a few things were found) rather for experiences and to enjoy the last days of vacation from school. School starts here next week. Our entourage included two ladies and five little ladies. Each with their own personality and lots of nervous excitement and anticipation.

Eat & Joy, Muu milk bar and coffee shop
Smoked fish salad

When we arrived in Helsinki, we had seven hungry bellies. We decided to try the Muu milk bar and coffee shop which is situated in downtown Helsinki in the basement level of the Kluuvi shopping center. They serve a soup daily and smoked fish salads. We ordered the European perch soup for all of us. The lunch comes with a salad, organic bread made in their own wood-burning oven, farm-fresh milk and a cup of coffee or tea. The only down side after we had paid for our meals was that the soup was nearly gone. We arrived a little after two in the afternoon. Fortunately the staff was very nice and everyone got something to eat. The kids ate the soup and the adults had smoked fish salads. The potato rieska (flat bread) was a favorite.

Now we were ready for an adventure. We headed to the harbor and took a ferry to the Suomenlinna sea fortress which is also an Unesco World Heritage Site. It is an affordable place to visit since there is no admission. The ferry over costs five euros for adults and two fifty for children (round trip).

The fortress was built in the 1700s to defend the Eastern part of the Swedish empire. During Russian rule Suomenlinna was used to defend the sea passage to St. Petersburg. It is full of cannons for the girls to climb on, tunnels to explore and walls to run on.

Suomenlinna, sea fortress

Exploring the tunnels

Friendly ghosts

Sunday morning we headed to flea market in Hietalahti. Usually kids get told to only look and not touch. Flea markets are meant for digging and touching, except for glassware. We even found a few treasures to take home with us.

Hunting for treasures

Kids can sometimes be picky eaters but we thought exposure to different tastes is always a good thing and so we had lunch at a Nepalese restaurant, Kantipur. After we ordered, the kids asked many questions about Nepal and the paintings of Himalayan scenery. The ladies had Bhendo Khursani or lamb in a ginger, capsicum, soy and spicy chili sauce. The little ladies had Kukhurmo Korma or chicken in a tomato and cream sauce. The little ladies really impressed us! Quite a few of them cleaned their plates. Lunch was served with fresh Nan bread which was popular with everyone. “When would I make Nan bread at home?” was the next request.

Himalayan scenery

Kids are great because often they don’t need toys, they come up with games to play in almost every setting.

Jumping from rock to rock in Kaivopuisto

The bungee jumpers had a captive audience.

Bungee jumping

Although we didn’t find the new backpack for school we did find a few keepsakes to put into our pockets and many experiences richer, we headed home ready for a new school year to start.

“In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.”
― Ansel Adams