27 April 2013

April adventures

right before i totally petered out of exploring steam, we got out to several more new places around the city.

-libraries (tapanila, puistola, suutarila): nice childrens spaces at these libraries but they had poor english book selections. from what i can tell, the closer you are to the core city center or to the west (in or near the city of espoo) the larger the selection of english language books. i guess that says something about where certain groups of people settle to raise their families.

-leikkipuistos (kurranummi, nurkka, jalopeura): [kurranummi] this playground had a nice location near a library with wide open spaces but not much shade. [nurkka] a great playground attached to a library/leikkipuisto/school. [jalopeura] a spread out, open playground with a pond, open grass areas, and river nearby.

-fallkulla farm. this place is easy to get to and free. you can touch and see tons of animals. theres a play areas for kids and bathrooms. in the summer they have a snack place open (im told) and in general is a large area to visit and relax.

-heureka science center. we primarily went for their body worlds exhibit. X loved it (blood and dead body parts and bodies, what 3 year old wouldnt dig that?). the rest of the science center was decent, but not as cool as the one in oulu. the grounds of the science center were great though: lots of lawn, a huge rock garden, a dam/waterfall, a duck pond, it was next to the train tracks, and there were several neat pedestrian bridges. i would come back just for the grounds for sure.

-alice in wonderland on ice. this was at the helsinki ice hall. a local skating club put on an adorable kids show. it was the perfect length and the great, short skate sequences kept their attention. im so happy we made it.

-snadistadi. a new indoor play place. the place was very well laid out and had fun areas for kids. it was expensive but would be worth it for bad weather or winter. a nice resource in the city.

-helsinki messukeskus. the huge city expo center had a child fair. there was a 16€ entrance fee and like other expos in the US there was some free stuff, but mostly prize drawings, info, products to buy, and showcasing for the companies. i was not impressed.

-english language book club. this is organized by the pasila library. i was sick for the march book club meeting but went this month. there were 4 other women of retirement age. they were well spoken and interesting. its a new group of people for me, and i like their energy. i look forward to future meetings.

-chapel of silence (kampin kappeli). shaped like a wooden egg, this chapel is sparsely decorated and is a place of silence. in the bustling middle of the city center, its such a peaceful place to stop and reset. its free and even a short 15 minute sit can make you feel much better.
(inside the chapel of silence. this isnt my pic, its from the blog hecktic travels)

-the trails and parkland between us and the savela neighborhood. there are nice dense trees and rocks and moss and trails. the path opens at the vantaa river and has a huge playground, disc golf, a picnic area, etc.

-river parkland in the suutarila neighborhood. this area looked nice and large on the map, but its mostly rolling grass hills and the nearby vantaa highway isnt too attractive.

-mini trails and climbable boulders in our neighborhood. there are so many ways to get down to our neighborhood mini shopping center area and many of them are up and over boulders. in the snowy winter i couldnt tell what was a real path and what was just treacherous but now that everything is melted, it makes even a dull trip to get food a fun adventure for X.

(this is actually the vanhakaupunki area [not anything i mentioned above] we seem to visit this area every few weeks and it changes so much each time. compared to our snowy january visit, this place is teeming with life now, and there arent even leaves on trees yet) 

-stockmann outlet. peh. scary. like an outlet for tjmaxx.

-nanso. id say a step down from marimekko, but its a finnish clothing design house and is worth a browse every now and again. they have decent patterns, but possibly in the slightly older lady bracket.

-toys r us. the one here is well organized, has a good selection, but has high prices. i will likely need to go back out there on rare occasion if looking for something i havent seen at closer, more unique stores.

-health centers (terveyskeskus). each grouping of neighborhoods has a health center that manages most of its health care needs (though you are not required to go to the health center in your neighborhood). emergencies still go to a hospital, but most other needs are met nearby and in a triaged, timely manner.

-cafe esplanad. in a nice location on the fancy esplanadi, but the food was just okay.

-antell itämerentori. a buffet-style lunch place in an easy access location. a nice spot for a fast tasty lunch.

-caffi. locally roasted beans, as well as tea and chocolate. a nice store but as im not a coffee drinker, i'll have to get the opinion of the people we got coffee gifts for.

finn notables:
-xylitol. offered as gum, chewy candies, mints, and other forms here, its actually a useful health product apparently. its a good diabetic sweetener, it reduces dental cavities, aids in tooth remineralization, and can help with ear infections. im told school kids are even given them after lunch.

-carpet/rug racks and whackers. so there are metal and wood racks outside every few apartment buildings here. people use them like crazy, especially during spring cleaning time. apparently vacuuming is not good enough, you take all your household rugs outside, when necessary, and carry your trusty whacker racquet thing-y and whack the dirt out of them good.

(our neighbor cleaning her rugs)

-sense of community. as the final spring melt was upon us it seemed that neighbors would regularly come out and do a few minutes of general maintenance of their surroundings. it could be breaking up ice, sweeping gravel off the side of the road out into the middle so the trucks that come by to remove the winter gravel would get most of it, or scooping paths in the snow for easier walking around the playground. residents seem to do these "community" services but in a random fashion. its not routine and not in everyones area. but it seems to be no pressure and an easy commitment for people to do only what they can when they can and it encourages others to take an interest and help out too.

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