23 October 2013

Fall (early) into helsinki

ah the beauty and fast retreat of early fall. it was beautiful here, and the feeling in the air made you want to savor every minute of wonderful weather days. it may have been short (compared to other places weve lived) but it was great.

to note for next year, peak fall color time was roughly the first two weeks in october. i cant tell if thats on-time or a bit late due to some warmer weather we had. it was also a dry summer so the colors seemed to be less brilliant than perhaps normal.

(peak fall right outside our door)

-helsinki festival/charlie chaplin shorts. the helsinki festival was perhaps 2+ weeks long featuring lots of music, theater and entertainment shows, but this one was the best for us. it was downtown at the orion theater and the show consisted of 3 charlie chaplin shorts with music accompaniment by kids. different age groups of kids did the 3 shorts so that the first group were young and inexperienced, the second group were older and better organized and played impressively enough that the crowd laughed where they were supposed to. unfortunately, X and i didnt have the patience to stay until the final (and no doubt most entertaining) short was played, but we had a nice time.

-"we love pihlis". this was a 51st anniversary festival for our neighborhood. the only thing we attended was the yard sale at the nearby playground, but it was a treasure trove and a nice place to see neighbors.

-library: munkkiniemi. this was an average library with a small, plain kids section.

-leikkipuistos: savela, unikko. savela: a nice playground nestled in a ring of apartments. what a compact little neighborhood with a set of all the schools, parks, and playgrounds you would need with highway access and a train station all super close. unikko: this playground had lots of variety, a large indoor building, trees and fencing to keep kids partially contained, but lots of areas to play.

nature (click here for a map):
-hertonniemi to viikki farm (part of vanhakaupunginlahti nature area). so now weve walked almost all the way around this bay. its such a lovely place. the hertonniemi path area was busier than i had expected. also, when we went it seemed that all the bugs and animals were acting strange, which i attributed to them performing their last activities before settling in to finding places to hibernate or die. but, it was a perfect weekend day for a walk, we found a frog pond to return to in the spring and we ended the walk through the farmland of viikki, just east of the arboretum. i really love this whole area of the city.

(hertonniemi area; the viikki farm. migratory birds were resting in the fields)

-pikku huopalahti-meilahti. a nice water and trail area with lots of little bridges and playgrounds interspersed. X and i hadnt seen the west side of the city so we went over just to explore. while i would say there was nothing special that would make me come back specifically, it was a pretty area and i had a friendly, useful chat with a finnish mom in the sandbox of one of the playgrounds.

-munkkiniemi beach and neighborhood. we walked through munkinpuisto first, and that was kind of a bust; it was just open grassy areas and a disc golf course. we then went to the beach and that was great: a nice shallow sandy area on the edge of a forest and sauna buildings nearby for, possibly(?) year-round use. we then walked along the water back to the bus stop to complete the loop of the neighborhood. the coastal walk was pretty and we saw people quietly sitting soaking up the last of the days westerly sun. there was a fancy cafe at the end of our walk (cafe torpanranta) which looked inviting.

-tervasaari. a tiny island on the east of helsinkis downtown peninsula. it breaks up the marina area and has a dog park, playground, cafe, and walking paths on it. a nice little spot, but nothing fancy.

-seurasaari. this large-ish island in the westerly waters of helsinki is home to an open-air old fashioned museum, a fancy restaurant, a nude beach, and trails. it is only a pedestrian island and it has a definite forest gnome vibe. we went on a day when there was a small festival that included cookie decorating, so that was a hit. the island was rather crowded and being used in lots of ways by different people but it was a pretty place. with lots of little cafes/stands, im sure it is a great place in warmer weather, if you want to be in a busy spot.

(seurasaari museum buildings)
(on seurasaari, near the beach. last time of the year she got to go barefoot)

-katajanokka island/neighborhood. just off the market square in downtown this peninsula-turned-island is mostly not of interest for tourists. its mainly a cruise ship docking area and has tons of apartments and a few hotels but not even the coastal edges are that exciting. the prettiest area is right were the island re-connects with the city: the uspenski cathedral is a beautiful brick building (brick seems to be the material of choice in this area actually) and the marina area to the north of the island is pretty. we also found a fantastic cafe in the neighborhood (see below for details).

(uspenski cathedral)

-hertonniemi kartano. this is a nice wooded, water-lined estate to the east. one of the borders is on a noisier, busy road, but once we got onto the grounds it was a peaceful spot. i think it would be a great place for a walk in the summer. there was supposedly a beach nearby too, but we turned in a different direction.

-wooden houses and trails of käpylä. this seems to be a nice hilly, hideaway neighborhood in the city that has lots of nature and old wooden houses.

-ravintola makalu (nepalese, in malmi). this place has good prices and portion-sizes and is open on sunday, but theres nothing remarkable about the food.

-cafe koti (in munkkiniemi). this is a basic cafe with a decent location and nice little kids play area.

-doi thai. a nice thai place in the historic city center area near the eastern marinas. i had some good thai iced tea and the chiangmai noodles with chicken done northern style was fun, different, and delicious. our food was all flavorful but simple. we had a nice time.

-kahvi siskot (a food stand on hakaniemi square). this is a coffee and sweet bread tent. very popular with locals. ive gotten dave their dense, homemade cinnamon rolls. he fully enjoyed them.

-johan & nyström cafe. this cafe is on the eastern harbor/waterfront by a yacht marina in a historic brick building with wood rafters. this place is so cool. its got great decor and colors and smells inside, combined with gorgeous looking hots drinks and divine treats. i was beside myself when i found their treats were all raw, gluten and lactose free. its like a place made just for us. and just down the way is a lovely coastal kids playground. i think we will be back over this way quite often.

-wanha mylly (meaning: old mill). on the hertonniemi estate (kartano), this is a traditional scandinavian restaurant in an old wooden building. lunch was mid-priced and they were quite quick and good with children. id say its definitely a place valued by the older generation and families, something akin to michiganders and their zehnders and schulers restaurants.

-k-market mustapekka in käpylä. eureka! recommended by a friend, it was a wonderful surprise to find this grocery store. it has a huge selection and its not a gourmet/high end place per se, it just has a very large selection of all categories of food. certainly a nice place to know about for special events or holiday cooking.

finn notables:
-people here give sun worshipping a new meaning. in the last warm days of summer/fall i saw countless people sitting in silence, face turned toward the sun, eyes closed, soaking it up, being in the moment, being grateful. it certainly shows that the outdoors is their spiritual place, and one can hardly blame them.

-im finding that there are tons of nature areas in the city, but the parks with actual names (colored in green on google maps) are usually the groomed multi-use kind of places (sport fields, playgrounds, picnic areas, disc golf courses, etc), which is perfectly fine, but if im looking for a walk in the woods, these arent the places.

-calendars. ive found that instead of talking about "the week of oct 6-12", people here talk about week 32 or week 41. which, im sure is a much better way to do it, but when you say week numbers to me, i have only the vaguest idea of what month or time of year you are talking about. additionally, calendars here start on mondays, the two weekend days are together at the end of calendars week.

-dental appt. so i had my dental check-up, everything looks good. he said there is no need to come back for 3 years! is that ever a recommendation for adults in the u.s.? now im feeling like they are just trying to take advantage of people with dental insurance. hmm...

-im REALLY missing avocados. they always look terrible here. and even when you get them green and hard and patiently wait the week for them to ripen, ive found that most are moldy. so basically i dont buy them anymore. :( its the only thing i think ive really craved multiple times.


Anonymous said...

RE: a walk in the woods — start with these:






... and...


http://www.hel.fi/static/liv/Saaristo-opas/fi+en/index.html (islands, Flash required)


Mary Ann said...

Thank you for your detailed descriptions of autumn in various neighborhoods. In Peru, we were inundated with avocados. I've always been lukewarm about them, but now I find myself dreaming of them stuffed and chunked in salads. Not always easy to find good ones in northern Michigan either. Maybe their elusiveness makes them all the more appealing.