-leikkipuistos: arabia, seppä, intia. arabia: this one is in the mix with nature, several schools, playing fields, apartment buildings and one edge of the playground looks out to the water. seppä: this one is in a posh southern helsinki neighborhood, right next to a pretty church with lots of nice trees. a big space with lots of play variety and even a small treat and flower shop at the edge of the playground. intia: this one is a huge playground with all age levels and styles of play areas nestled in the forest. gosh, so cool. i hear its one of the oldest playgrounds in the city.
-childrens festival. X and i checked this out one weekend, it was behind the opera house and was mostly a product placement festival, but we saw some rhythmic gymnastics, made crafts, ran an obstacle course and shared a huge piece of rope liquorice. so, in the end, a nice afternoon.
-mini golf in kaivopuisto. this is a 20 hole putt-putt place on the waterfront. its nothing fancy, and certainly not cheap, but its something fun to do on a nice day. X was somewhat interested, but 3.5 is still too young id say.
-savela playground. between a forest and the river, this is built for older kids, and is constructed well enough to be fun for adults too.
nature (*new* click here for a map of where these places are):
-small park on vantaa river in oulunkylä off käskynhaltijantie road. found this nice park after running an errand one day. it has open grassy areas with trails along the river. there are two docks on the river and a tree across the way that we saw people jumping out of into the river. the minnows were friendly (we hand-fed them) and the river wasnt that cold (for dipping your feet in). on another day, we walked from our neighborhood up along the river to this same park/spot. that walk was filled with flowers and calming trees.
(cattails in the park)
-kaisaniemi botanical gardens (the outside part). we just walked a small part of it and then went out to the water. it was a quiet, grey day but the cafe and greenhouses looked inviting. i think we will come back in the winter.
-suomenlinna beach. on the fortress island of suomenlinna there is a beach cut away from some high-ish rocks. the beach is tiny and crowded on a nice day. in fact the whole island is littered with people in a nice day, not surprisingly. id like to go back and find the quiet, out of the way nooks of the island though.
(the inlet to the beach. the beach is actually off a bit more to the right. you can see the city far off in the distance of the picture)
-malmi cemetery (malmin hautausmaa). finlands largest cemetery. it has lots of flowers and trees and serene hideaways. it almost makes me want to be buried instead of cremated. it is a place we get to visit often because it is a nice shortcut to the nearby recycle center. there is even a cafe for lunch on the grounds, with a terrace in the summer, which i hear is actually a decent place to eat.
-kumpula botanical gardens. this is just behind and down the hill from daves campus. set on and below a hill, this botanical garden is on an old estate i think. there are some nice mansion-type buildings, a cafe, walking paths with different areas of gardens and a lovely pond. X and i caught water boatsman bugs there and had a great time despite the threat of storms that day.
-malmi-to-pihlajamäki walk along a creek. we took the bus up a few stops to the malmi neighborhood, found a path along a little creek and wandered our way along it back toward home. we stopped to play in the water a few times, found a playground, discovered an enormous and vibrant community garden area, and found an area with a heap of wildflowers growing along the waters edge. definitely a nice sunday morning stroll.
-winter gardens outdoor rose garden. in front of the greenhouses, this was a beautifully manicured rose garden with secret hiding spot bushes. children were running around and having fun too.
-annala gardens and mansion. this estate and farmland is in one of our favorite areas, arabia and the vanhakaupunki bay and nature area that we so love. this is just another reason to gush. from the road this appears to be a mansion set on a rolling hill with a well groomed lawn and flowers in the front, but its much more, there are thick woods, exposed boulders to climb, bridges and trails on the land surrounding the mansion and there is a food and flower garden behind the mansion with a few small areas for horses to roam. it is such a lovely place, and to find it in full bloom in mid-august was divine.
-alppipuisto (alpine park). this park is behind the amusement park (linnanmäki) and sits between the train tracks and a working class neighborhood which would be fine except that being a huge outdoor concert venue does nothing to help keep the park clean or free of graffiti, and so it then seems the perfect place for boozy male lay-abouts to sun themselves in the middle of the day. it wasnt at the level that i felt unsafe (im not sure finland even has that level), but it just really wasnt the kind of park that i would return to, which is a shame.
-latokartano park. this area has a lot going for it in the summer: trails and greenery, wide open grass, sports fields, schools and playgrounds, streams, and a boulder hill with a forest behind it. im not sure it would be of much interest in the winter, but the apartments bordering it looked very nice interspersed with so much green and garden space.
-eiranranta. the south-western waterfront of the helsinki peninsula. a nice beach, coastline, and park/walking area. it follows around the east of the peninsula to kaivopuisto. all along the way are ice cream stands and cafes and the citys wealthy people and young families out enjoying themselves. there are a few nice playgrounds down this way too. its quite crowded though so its not my favorite place in the city, but good for visitors.
-viikkinranta coast/forest. this was the connector part of the pathways between vanhakaupunki and the viikki arboretum that we hadnt done yet. my. goodness. what beauty. this is certainly a place to come for a fall walk, without the stroller perhaps. the trail we took started out big and wide but definitely was not a stroller trail in the middle. but we encountered few people and kilometers of natural beauty. all capable visitors will be shown this area. bring your walking shoes.
-pihlajamäki cliffs. a 360 degree view of several of our surrounding neighborhoods. this is a cliff area with exposed rock, trees, low vegetation and is a place for many different kinds of people to enjoy.
-aseanic. an asian food market. everything japanese, chinese, thai, vietnamese, korean and perhaps otherwise that you could imagine. we got our rice wraps here for a new dinner meal to make for guests.
-kanniston leipomo. a bakery and treat shop in the busy city center but the place seems like a little hidden nook. we got a tasty blueberry bar and some simple, yet delicious ginger cookies.
-world bites festival. held in the teurastamo (abatoir) courtyard in east downtown helsinki. a nice hideaway area where food and community and urban seem to be evolving together. i always see interesting things going on over there. we had some african dishes and a dutch stroopwafel (syrup waffle) as dessert. yum. and there was music too.
-international market at kamppi. this was a gathering of international tents. mostly stuff we didnt need, but a french bakery, austrian strudel tent, german pretzel tent, and german grilling tents did entice my tastebuds.
-yobot. a frozen yogurt do-it-yourself place opened by an ex-pat american. this frozen yogurt, however, tastes like actual yogurt that was simply frozen. its not overly sugary, thats what the toppings are for, you can do it up kid-style or keep it really healthy. i like that. we will go back again.
-k-rauta. a finnish home depot. fun to go through the bathroom showroom area. such different cabinet, sink, and tub designs.
-eurokauppa. like a dollar store. mostly junk, but decent to browse on rare occasion.
-all lost and found items from city transit and otherwise get funnelled to a private company called "found finland". its kinda weird, but i guess its easier to keep it organized and functioning well if its managed by a company in a central location. but, you have to pay to even ask about a lost item, however, they will ship it anywhere in the world if it is found.
-july is really the time when finns flee the city (to their secluded forest cottages [mökki] on a lake). you arent getting "real finland" if you come to visit in july. june and august assume a more relaxed summer schedule than the other fall-winter-spring months, but july its just eerily quiet around here.
-the second weekend in august is the unofficial end of summer around here. the first leaves actually started turning yellow and falling this weekend. before my birthday!!??