Suomenlinna

Suomenlinna

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Suomenlinna is a popular island destination about 4 kilometres away from the Helsinki city centre. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and very popular among locals and tourists. It is a beautiful place to soak in the warm sunlight and breathe in fresh air. Personally, I just love to sit by the shore to watch the gentle waves rolling in.

I’ve been to Suomenlinna many times before but it was my first time to visit when it is covered in Bunias orientalis (Ukonpalko in Finnish). It is such an amazing sight in combination with the blue colours of the sea and sky. So beautiful! It is something not to be missed in June of each year.

All photos by Ari Vitikainen at https://www.arivitikainenphotography.com.

Tea moment in Helsinki

Tea moment in Helsinki

If you fancy an afternoon tea in Helsinki, I 100% recommend to head over to Brasserie Kämp along Pohjoisesplanadi Street. You won’t regret it, I promise. It will be a lovely afternoon spent in a beautiful place. You will have a choice between the Classic Afternoon tea and the Grand Afternoon tea. Take the latter as the lobster and caviar are a must to complete the setting. There are 13 tea selection. I prefer the Jasmine spiced green tea from Japan with its fresh taste and deep aroma.

All photos by Ari Vitikainen at https://www.arivitikainenphotography.com

Vanhankaupunginkoski and Tullisaari

Vanhankaupunginkoski and Tullisaari

EC8858ED-0E8C-4A96-8B83-4A6B27AD4486The times of COVID-19 opened up possibilities to visit the outskirts of Helsinki. Why we haven’t done this before, I don’t know. But the travel restrictions surely played a main role. Although these places are some drive away from my Kamppi neighborhood, it was worth the visit, especially to see 100 year old trees.

Vanhankaupunginkoski is a riverside nature reserve with waterfalls. It is a popular place for walking, picnicking, fishing and birdwatching. The breeze created by the waterfalls was such a refreshing treat on this warm afternoon.

Tullisaari is located at the southeastern part of Helsinki. I love this peaceful island with its beautiful walk path and a lovely picnic area facing the sea.

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The sun setting behind a tree from 1830 was the most breathtaking.

Century old trees made me imagine children climbing on it over the years. I wonder how many things these trees have seen. They hold lots of memories.

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All photos by Ari Vitikainen at http://arivitikainenphotography.com

Travelling close to home in Vallisaari

Travelling close to home in Vallisaari

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The restrictions on foreign travels made most of us aware of the beauty surrounding us. Exploring nearby places became a thing to experience now, rather than to wait for it to happen in the future. As the lockdown in Finland eases and the summer holiday starts, we immediately planned a trip to Vallisaari on the first day it reopened to visitors. Vallisaari is an island in Helsinki located some 25 minutes by boat from the Helsinki market square.

I instantly felt that holiday vibe the moment we arrived in Vallisaari. It was fun to see the hanging tents from the other side of the shore. Can you see them?

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The combination of the dense, green forest and the clear, blue water was such a relaxing sight. I enjoyed the long walk in the most diverse nature. The island is full of beautiful wild flowers bursting with glorious colours along with the birds singing beautifully in the background. They bought me a lot of inspiration for my fabric designs.

 

One exciting aspect of the trip was to spend the night on the adjacent island, Kuninkaansaari. We were the only ones on the entire island. It was my first time to sleep on a tent tied to the trees in the forest. It was such a perfect place to watch the sea, to admire the sunset and to look up the sky. Sleeping to the birds singing, insects humming and the gentle sound of the waves was such a nature’s gift.

And of course, I woke up listening to the same peaceful sound of the birds, insects and waves. And as the island came to life at 10:00, it was interesting to watch how everything was coming back to normal after months of lockdown. Deliveries from the mainland arrived to better supply the opening of another restaurant. The ice-cream shop will reopen soon too.

Another thing that left an impression on me was how friendly were the people there. I left feeling really good about the trip and will happily return.

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All photos by Ari Vitikainen at www.arivitikainenphotography.com

 

Spring came to Helsinki

Spring came to Helsinki

Spring came to Helsinki. Very beautiful, sunny Spring. There are places with Cherry Blossoms closed by. I can even see one through my window. In Helsinki, we are allowed to go out for walks and exercise but being cautious not to get close to anyone. This week, I stood under the Cherry Trees and wished for some normality. Although, it is sad to be missing Hanami Festival this year in Helsinki, I know that there will be a next year. It was lovely to find Cherry Blossoms in the neighbourhood parks.

It’s also my birthday week. I celebrated it yesterday by waking up to music, flowers, a birthday cake and coffee. Dinner was ordered in from the Japanese restaurant that we frequented pre-COVID.

I had some 500 birthday wishes from many parts of the world in different languages on Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, YouTube, phone call… There were voice messages and songs, virtual and hand-drawn cards and even my name handwritten in fantasy Korean! The postman also came by and brought me something. Thankful to God and feeling blessed to celebrate my special day quarantined style!


Today, I introduce a new character together with Emiko. I don’t know her name yet so she is called No Name as of now. Also, I can’t decide on her colour so I decided to make her change colour every once in a while. I’m planning to combine my illustrations to print out a book called COVID diaries. If you are writing one, what will you include there?

Snow, where art thou?

Snow, where art thou?

The sun has finally come after many days of rain. It was nice to see more sunlight again, crossing over the very dark winter days. But snow, where art thou? It is rather a strange winter!

Christmas day came with a promise of snow. There is always snow in Christmas morning. But no! However, nature always brings beauty. A walk in the park and in the forest was a much needed break on Christmas day in Kotka, Finland.

New year’s eve came with a promise of snow too. We spent waiting for 2020 in Porvoo, Finland. But snow didn’t come either. However, Porvoo city is always pretty. We enjoyed the beautiful old town and coffee moments at Tee ja Kahvihuone Helmi. Tee ja Kahvihuone Helmi has an enormous selection of cakes which made it a bit difficult to choose just one.

850_4646New Year’s eve dinner was a three course meal at Bistro Gustav. It was an excellent french meal.

And as of today in Helsinki, still no snow! I hope everyone is having a good start of the year.

All photos taken by arivitikainenphotography.com

Lenny Kravitz, the greatest concert ever

Lenny Kravitz, the greatest concert ever

IMG_2811Lenny’s show in Helsinki on Saturday was amazing. He was full of energy, yet, so relaxed and so in the moment. He was walking in the stage and connecting sincerely to his audience. There was no rush whatsoever. He even asked the audience, “You are not in a hurry, aren’t you?” His voice was mesmerising. It was the same as listening to his studio recorded songs which means that he has such an authentic voice. His song, Here to love, was so touching with a choir on stage.

I bought seat tickets just to be sure that I can see. Except for Toto’s concert where I was stood in the first row, I struggled with height issue in concerts. I remember being squeezed among the crowd of a Green Day concert. And if not for the generous people infront of me during the Duran Duran and the Mariah Carey’s concert, I will not to able to see a thing, even those were seated tickets.

However during Lenny’s performance of Let love rule, I decided to go down. As luck would have it,  Lenny went down the stage too and kept on saying, “I want to see the people.” I saw the security near me looking all nervous. Lenny went across and up the hall. I knew that he will pass my way since the steps going up the stage was on the side where I was standing. People rushed to my side with phones ready while I decided to place my phone on my back pocket. I held out both my hand as he was coming close. I called softly, “Lenny”. And he reached his hand to me and I held it with both my hands. We were face to face. He was infront of me. He saw me. It was a very in the moment handshake. The people before me didn’t get handshakes while they stuck out one hand and phones on the other. I would not be in the moment and see him up close, if I was busy with my phone. I was the second to the last person who he shook hands with before climbing back the stage. The last person who was the guy next to me was not on his phone either. Well, talking about in the moment!

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Oodi, the new neighbourhood library

Oodi, the new neighbourhood library

As an OD (Organisational Development) specialist, I find the new Helsinki library quite fitting well for me. It’s called Oodi which means ode in Finnish. However, this is not exactly a normal library. Although this library has lots and lots of books, it also has a cafe, a restaurant, a movie theatre, areas for concerts, recording studios, a kitchen, a gaming room and an immersive 3-D space whose walls can be illuminated with digital projections. There are high-tech equipments such as laser cutter, computerised embroidery machines and equipment to digitally sculpt wood. It is said that this library is the government’s gift to the Finnish people on its 100 years of Independence. 

So I’m so happy. The library has lots of creative spaces, including an orange reading room. There are also many books that I want to read and comfortable chairs I want to sit on, even the Eero Aarnio’s ball chairs! And best of all, it’s only a 13 minutes walk from my flat. 

All photos taken by arivitikainenphotography.com

My perfect café in Helsinki

My perfect café in Helsinki

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After three years of searching for a perfect café in Helsinki, I can say this is my favourite one. Because I really did some research and even have a coffee blog for it called Helsinki Coffee Scene. I’ve been to many, many more cafés in Helsinki which many I felt not worth blogging at all until I ended here. Here is where I belong! This is the place where I sit, listen to music, draw and eat huge amount of cakes to celebrate birthdays of whoever is having a birthday that day. It’s my go to café. And the best thing about it, it is some 20 minutes walk from my flat or even longer for my shorter stride. This means I get a bit of a exercise rather than going to the nearest one which is some 3 minutes away. I have to get rid of those calories, you know!

The place is called Robert’s Coffee Jugend located in front of the Esplanade Park. It’s in a beautiful, spacious Jugend house with a high ceiling and comfortable leather chairs. The other thing about this place is that I really like their coffee. The savoury snacks are very tasty too, along with the cakes and ice-creams. I so love to be sat in this place at any time, and any weather!

You can find  my coffee blog here: https://www.arivitikainenphotography.com/blog

Autumn in Helsinki

Autumn in Helsinki

Autumn is my favourite season and Helsinki is one of the best cities to experience it. This is because Helsinki has a lot of parks and open spaces, even in the very centre of Helsinki where I live.

One of my favourite spots for an Autumn photo is under the tree beside the House of Parliament. This spot never fails to display the rich colour of Autumn because of the colourful leaves of this particular maple tree.

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Across the street from the National Museum is another open space with beautiful, vivid trees. It’s a wonderful feeling sat on the terrace, enjoying coffee and just be soaked in the surrounding beauty. Walking further is the Hesperian Park where a full Autumn bloom awaits. It’s amazing how nature reveals itself as season changes.

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Photos by arivitikainenphotography.com