Favorite thing: Helsinki is very much a city on the water as its located on the sea and various sea inlets. When we were here in the eighties these froze over in the winter and you could walk or even drive on them. Not sure if this is still the case.
Sightseeing tour on tram 3T/3B
Favorite thing: A popular possibility to get an overview of Helsinki is to take a trip by tram 3T/3B. These lines serve a round tour along the main sights of Helsinki. The trip lasts about 1 hour and you can even get a free brochure about the sights along the tour at the Tourist Information Office.
A single ticket for the tram can be bought for 2 Euro from the driver or for 1,40 Euro in an R-Kioski (2002).
- Budget Travel
Favorite thing: When I lived in Finland in 1985 to 1986 the winter was freezing cold. The temperature dropped to minus twenty. The sea froze over and there was snow everywhere. People were used to it. They changed to winter tyres, central heated all the buildings, employed people to clear the streets(all the snow was piled up at the sides with the occasional opening. People wore lots of clothes when they went out and stripped off several layers when they entered heated public transport or a centrally heated building.
On our visit in summer 2009 we got into a discussion with a young Finnish barman about winter. He claimed nowadays their winters are no worse than the UK's and the snows and ice belonged to days his grandparents remembered. As well as making us feel old, this did make us wonder has it really warmed up so much? I don't know but I do know that the snow looked spectacular and added a bit of light to the long dark winter days.
Helsinki Sanomat on line
Favorite thing: The main newspaper is Helsinki Sanomat, there used to be an English language online version. However this seems to have disappeared. However they still have an online version of the main newspaper.
Internet Cafe Facilities
Favorite thing: There are many locations where the visitor can check his or her email. These range from clothes/fashion shops, book stores, museums and the main post office. Generally these are free of charge facilities, with a time limit of between 15-20 minutes.
However my preference is to pay for a computer at MBAR.
check out: http://mbar.fi/
(phone) +358 9 61245420
Fondest memory: The bar has good food and drink, DJs and live cabaret. IT also features regularly on MTV3, subTV and other Finnish television channels as a venue for live acts.
Around the Market Square
Fondest memory: One of my fondest and earliest memories of the city is that I'm sat down on the steps next the Helsinki Cathedral on a beautiful summer day, snacking on sweet sugar snaps and strawberries that my parent had just bought at the outdoor market next to the sea. I must have been under 5. Every time I visit Helsinki in summer, I still go and buy these two things at the Market Square and sit down somewhere (usually the stairs at the Senate Square, Suomenlinna island, Katajanokka or Tahtitorninmaki hill) to eat them.
I also remember the distinctively green colour of the sea as well as the smell of it. It does not smell the same anymore though..
One of the landmarks in the vicinity of the market square is the naked 'Havis Amanda' statue. Every year on 1st May, she will be given a back and white hat to wear for a day by the students. It's a silly tradition really, but at the same time rather hilarious as well.
- Women's Travel
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
AN UP AND DOWN DAY - BUT AT LEAST I GOT A BEER!
I knew I was going to end up here, I just didn’t realise the rest of the story!
I was looking for a flight from England to Tallinn, Estonia. I was new to the internet, but a ridiculously low price came up with a telephone number to ring of a travel agent. Not only was it really that price, but on Finnair as well! I could not believe my luck. I gave my credit card details and a paper ticket arrived a few days later. It did not show a change of plane in Helsinki or any arrival time. It was a very vague ticket.
On the appointed day I arrived at Manchester Airport handed over my ticket and passport and received a single boarding pass. There was some vague discussion of re-checking in at Helsinki. Fair enough.
So I went for a beer in the bar before boarding the plane. Then as soon as the small, narrow plane took off – I was offered another beer. In fact, at that time, Finnair’s policy was “ask and you shall receive another cold one”. No hesitation, even got smiles.
So I am happily on my second (or third) beer when I felt the plane starting to descend! I hadn’t had anything close enough to override the fear factor. We were not even half-way to Helsinki!
I called the attendant/bar tender over and she said “we are landing in Norway” in a very matter of fact tone. “Why?” I asked with a tinge of concern. “Oh, we always stop here”. OK. I did say the ticket was vague.
So we land and guess what? This was my introduction to the “Schengen Area”. OK, the
‘Non-EU’ area of the Schengen Area. Yes, we had to get off the plane, go inside and get in a long queue. The queue to get our passports checked so we could get in a queue to get back on our plane. OK.
Take-off. Beer please!
So I am just settling in to another beer and LOVING Finnair when we start DESCENDING AGAIN!
BY now the beers are talking to me and thinking ‘it may just be a mechanical problem lets get a beer before the staff sit down or we crash’.
Beer please! Thanks. Why are we descending? OK, you always land here too.
So we get off and have to now enter the EU side of the Schengen Area! Yes, big queue to go through passports and big queue to return to the plane. Obviously Mr. Schengen was not on the Environmental Committee of the EU,
Take-off. 2 Beers please! In case we start descending.
2 beers arrive and we begin to descend.
So what to do in Helsinki? Check in, get boarding pass, go get a beer.
So on to a small propeller plane. Can I get a beer? Sure!
I love Finnair!!!
I vaguely remember getting to my hotel riding with the most perverted taxi driver in Tallinn – but that’s another story.
I LOVE YOU FINNAIR !!!
Multilinguality and Multilingual Signs
Favorite thing: Finland is a bilingual country with Swedish having a status as an official language as well. However, you will find Swedish only along the Southwestern coastline where most of the FennoSwede population lives. Helsinki as a decent Swedish-speaking population and therefore you will find mos things in both languages. So don't be confused if there are two different designations for the same thing or place - it's usually the Swedish (or Finnish) designation for something. Even street names are shown in Swedish and Finnish – and in some cases even in Russian!
Favorite thing: Most of us like to see beautiful buildings, some more, some less. The architecture in Helsinki is amazing. There is things to see for people who love old style with decorations and details as well as for those who like modern architecture with smooth and beautiful surfaces. The list of famous Finnish architects is long. A few examples could be Eliel Saarinen (architect for Helsinki Central Railwaystation among others), Eero Saarinen (architect e.g. for JFK International Airport in New York), Carl Ludvig Engel, who was half german (architect for the famous, white Lutheran Cathedral in Helsinki and the mainbuilding for the University of Helsinki) and the one who is a must when we are talking about Finnish architects, Alvar Aalto, architect and designer (examples on his work is the Finlandia Hall in Helsinki and Essen Opera House, in Essen, Germany.) These are a few examples, personally I love the architecture in Helsinki and if it was possible I would put a lot more pictures here for you. That is though a good reason for you to visit the city yourself, it's definitely worth it. But I have a few pictures over here, look at them, enjoy!
- Historical Travel
Favorite thing: The capital of Finland is a city with two names - Helsinki (in Finnish) and Helsingfors (in Swedish) – and roughly half a million inhabitants. It’s on the southern portion of country, right on the shores of the Gulf of Finland, opposite Tallinn in Estonia, to be precise.
Fondest memory: Despite having been founded in 1550, nothing remains of that period. I would say that Helsinki is a city of culture (there’s tons of museums), but not much of charm: glorious sights are really few… I did not like it entirely, but appreciated its nature: parks, bays, beaches and even a very friendly cemetery.
Useful phone numbers
Favorite thing: The most common European emergency number 112 (following Directive 2002/22/EC: Universal Service Directive) and also standard on GSM mobile phones. 112 is used in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Republic of Macedonia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom in addition to their other emergency numbers.
Here are some useful phone numbers that you might need while in Finland:
Global number 112
Finland's national author
Favorite thing: The author of the first significant Finnish novel was Aleksis Kivi, originally Alexis Stenvall.
He entered into the Finn literature, when there was an urgent need for the strengthening of the national self-awareness. He had even changed his Swedish surname Stenvall (stone bank) to the Finnish Kivi (stone).
Kalevala was written already, indeed it started being translated into foreign languages, but there was not a Finnish novel yet.
There were not enough already, to write on the "peasant’s language", instead of the more "cultural" Swedish; it became increasingly more important the from what and the how.
For most people of this era the Finnish folk lived almost unknown in its forests and Kivi took this folk, the Finnish peasant into the literature introducing them in his famous novel The Seven Brothers.
During his lifetime he was largely ignored, because his image of the not-so-virtuous rural life was too "raw" and realistic for the "educated audience" and he died in extreme poverty.
Fondest memory: His 1939 statue sits next to the Railway station in front of the Art Nouveau building of the National Theatre and that his plays are still performed there.
The bronze memorial shows the author sitting melancholic in a chair. Under chair there are three reliefs depicting scenes from Kivi's well known novels.
- Arts and Culture
The best-known Finnish painter
Favorite thing: There has even been competition among artists over who creates the most convincing imitations of the outside world and its details.
Academic art education was for centuries focused on precise representations of the human body. Outdoor painting broke this academic tradition, but brought new aspects into observing nature and depicting the different seasons.
Fondest memory: The best-known Finnish painter, Akseli Gallen-Kallela used the silent emptiness of the landscape itself to full evocative effect. All the blond irrationality of the deep Finn nationalities and some Stone Age comfort deficiency of the existence are in his painting.
A sculpture was raised to his respect in Hungary, too: his monument stands in Budapest on the Buda side of the Danube coast.
- Arts and Culture
Favorite thing: If you didn´t already exchanged money before you got to Finland you can exchange them in FOREX exchange company. Forex is a big company and can take alot of different currencys.
There is one FOREXat the central railway station. Or just go out on the web and search for the closest one to you.
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Visitor Centre Suomenlinna
Favorite thing: When you make a visit to Suomenlinna go to the visitor centre. The people here can help you in finding your way on the islands, the centre also has many brochures, so lots of information. The visitor centre also has good museum, the Suomenlinna museum. If you take the JT Line ferry, you arrive on the visitor centre quay, you arrive in the middle of Suomenlinna, so you can choose what to visit first, the islands are all easily accessible and walkable...
Fondest memory: Suomenlinna and Seurasaari, I miss the nature, the peace, the beautiful sights, water and flowers everywhere!!!