It was a fun snowy day in Helsinki and an evening walk was all it takes to fully enjoy it. The Old Church Park (Vanha kirkkopuisto) is one of the best places to enjoy the scenic snow in the Helsinki centre. The tree silhouettes against the snow covered ground felt so magical as the old lamps glow their golden lights. The beautiful old buildings surrounding this park add to its elegance. The Old Church Park was a cemetery. There are 48 gravestones visible in the park dating back from 1790–1829.
Walking further is the beautiful Espanade Park which leads to the Senate Square. The snow covered steps of the Helsinki Cathedral was a fun place to just enjoy the scenery and take in the cold, fresh air. But in fact, it was not cold at all. At 0 degrees celsius, my coat felt like a warm sleeping bag.
All photos by Ari Vitikainen @ arivitikainenphotography.com
The weather did not cooperate as I wanted to during the holidays. Darkness and rain was all it gave. There was anticipation of snow during Christmas which never arrived. But alas! 2020 ended. The new year came. And on the third day, snow appeared. It snowed beautifully, covering the city with its shine and glitter. A feeling of freshness and hope came along with it. The darkness turned into a beautiful Helsinki!
This Christmas season, it was inevitable to spend it following the COVID recommendation. Although, there were still unavoidable situations like the crowded shops ( we need to get food!), in general, downtown Helsinki was strangely quiet. The city is obviously lacking some tourists as seen during our evening stroll on the 23rd. It actually feels empty.
However, the Grand Noel afternoon tea at the Kämp Braserrie is not to be missed. Additional Christmas flavours are added to spice up the Christmas spirit. The obvious addition is the gingerbread macaron.
One of the Christmas traditions in Finland is to visit the cemetary on Christmas eve. Hietaniemi cemetary is located 650 meters from our flat. Many famous Finns are buried here since the 1820s. Here, I’m standing where people can light candles for those who were buried in other places. We also visited the graves of past Finnish presidents.
One fun thing I did this Christmas time was to open a Japan crate. My first time ever! I got Julian from the Animal Crossing. It was lots of fun! Greetings too from Emiko who lives on Mochi Island. Please come and visit!
Here is also an illustrated recipe of Joulutorttu. Joulutorttu is a Finnish Christmas pastry made from puff pastry in the shape of a star, filled with prune jam and dusted with icing sugar.
Autumn is my favourite season. Everywhere in Helsinki seems to be framed by this beautiful Autumn colours and the lovely golden backdrop. Helsinki is even more beautiful in Autumn and this year has been an endless supply of warm and sunshine.
One of the best places to see the Autumn colours is at the Hesperia Park. This park never ceases to amaze me and gives so much hope for the coming darkness.
All photos by Ari Vitikainen @http://arivitikainenphotography.com
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.
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.
The 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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
New 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.