Having a bowel disease, sometimes I need to get the toilet in a rush. Whilst Helsinki is a vibrant, modern city, it's a bit annoying that for some toilets you need to pay (the train station and at least one of the shopping centres) or more commonly, you need a code to access the toilet! This isn't ideal if you desperately need to go, so the safest bet is to go to a hotel/bar/restaurant for a free, unlocked toilet.Related to:
All I can think of them part 1 of 2
In addition to my general Finland warnings or dangers here's all I can add concerning Helsinki.
Animals, insects etc. are no problem except very seldom some pet dog which newer means any harm if you ask the owner (even if it has already bitten and it tries to eat you).
Sometimes a lonely moose can be found wondering near the Centrum but that is a rare and not a danger if you are not too close.
A drunken aggressive person is one of the top dangers. Drug users of course also.
Estimation 2003 of the safety of cities Luxembourg was 1. After that Helsinki, Singapore and three cities of Switzerland Zurich, Geneva, and Bern held the 2. divided position.
In March 2005 Mercer Human Resources Consulting got almost the same resaults. Luxemburg 1. and Helsinki, Bern, Geneve, Zurich 2.
The very high position of Helsinki was a little surprise to me. But Helsinki is really relatively safe place jus like Luxembourg and Zurich.
Slippery streets during the winter (about 5 months - November to March) are a danger not to be underestimated. In the whole country the costs of slipping is nowadays, year 2012, estimated 600 million Euros yearly. The biggest majority of people dying for slipping are elderly people over the age 70 Years at home or hospital or old peoples home etc. But not all of them. In the year 2009 over 1400 slip, stumble or fall to death and 1156 in the year 2012..
During those days usually when the snow has melted dring the day and then frozen again hospitals get lots of injured people. Its usually very slippery only when the temperatur is near by freezing / melting point of water = 0 Celsius.
In wintertime also snow and ice falling from the roofs of buildings to the sidewalks is a real danger. Almost yearly somebody is killed or at least wounded by that like f.ex. in February 2012 one woman died.
In the autumn year 2008 one female pedestrian was killed by a cyclist right in the centrum of the city. The killer got 1500 Euros fine and had to pay 4000 Euros - that's all.
Several years ago Finnish TV showed a video satire of how senseless a cyclist can drive.
Most cyclists are probably quit OK. But part of them have a habit of driving as silent as possible and as fast as possible and that on sidewalk.
One female cyclist once almost crashed me coming very fast behind the street corner. Typical Finnish comment is "oho" but comment I got was "oho anteeksi" (woman are more talkative than man).
Somebody is now importing Gipsys from Romania and Bulgaria to beg on the streets. The actual beggars who only sit and beg are propably harmless but some of that group has committed violent rubberies.
All I can think of them part 2 of 2
IF YORE LOOKING FOR TROUBLE
In City-lehti a free magazine that comes out twice a month (in English 4 a year) somebody asked a few years ago which is the pub where you most likely get assaulted. The answer was Iloinen Katupoika where there are previous, current (on holiday) and future prisoners, jailbirds. The pub was closed in the year 2006. It was located near the area of "Kurvin Kulma". Once a pub Syntipukki was opened there and in 3-4 months already 4-5 stabbing happened there - Syntipukki is not open anymore. Sörnäinen Metro Station is located there and the area has a little bit bad reputation. But actually for example opposite the place where Iloinen Katupoika was locate was a quite decent "Irish" pub with no problems which is now Martina with food (once 2001 I saw there a 103-year-old man visiting it for once. He became on december 2006 the oldest in Finland at the age of 109 years and died 1.1.2009 at the age of 111) .
Some suburban areas can be the top places for problems. I don't know what is now the worst place now.
In city Centrum later at night when there are a lot of people problems can be found. Main Railway Station, Buss Station, Kamppi are there.
A quarter of all assaults in the Centrum area happens in pubs and restaurants.
Pickpockets occur. Some 300-400 cases are reported to the police during summer time. So not a very large figure.
If you are looking for trouble probably the cheap pubs are more likely ones than more expensive. Some certain cheaper pubs in suburban areas and Kallio-Sörnäinen area are maybe the best places with problems. At lest some alcoholics will beg or even demand for money for the next bear/drink.
In the old days practically every restaurant had a door man who's job was not to welcome you but to decide if you can come or not. And only for them tipping was mandatory. Nowadays doormen still exist but mainly in Centrum pubs and some suburban pubs. And it is a quite violent job - which tells something.
Helsinki is one of the safest capitals in the world. The only one thing you might find a bit daunting are the vast number of drunks that you can see around the city in the evening. The Finns drink hard, and the drunks can be falling over unconscious in the street kind of drunk.
Those used to the fighting drunks of Britain might find this intimidating, but they are usually fine as long as you keep your distance. Just wait for the police to pick them up and take them to the drunk house for safekeeping.
Pickpocketers in the tram/restaurants
In the past few summer weekends, there has been a number of incidents in the trams where people have been robbed of their wallets, either from their handbags or pockets. There are increasingly more skilful pick pocketers in Helsinki these days due to the free movement of people within the EU and the Schengen Agreement, which enables organised gangs to move across the borders without being stopped.
Another trick these people try is the classic one where someone comes to your table outside and hands a piece of (laminated) paper to you to read (often in a foreign language) and once they get your attention, another guy, pretending to be a waiter, takes your mobile or wallet, if you have left it on the table or in an open bag.
Please don't let your belongings out of your sight.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Women's Travel
Wintertime - slippery tram stops
Winter has come again so I guess it is time to remind our visitors that tram stops can be a bit slippery. This has something to do with people standing on snow and warm air coming out of van then it stops. A combination of melting & freezing snow I suppose. I admit that this is not among the gravest dangers in the city, but then again there were warning stories in last year papers regarding this issue (=people breaking their legs or wrists after falling down on a tram stop). So take care then you leave the tram on more "peripheral" stops.
Crossing Streets - Walk Signs Change Differently
Crossing streets in Helsinki can be a bit of a hazard if you aren't paying attention carefully. Each individual crossing has it's own walk/don't walk light, and some streets have 3-4 of these, which don't always have the same sign on.
This was odd for me, since where I come from each street only has 1 sign, so it's either "walk" or "don't walk", never a mixture of both.
In Helsinki though, you might be crossing a street that is split into sections; where cars are coming from the left, and then there are some tram tracks, and then cars are coming from the right. Each one of these crossings has a different light and sometimes you will only be able to cross one section and then have to wait on an "island" a little bit before making it all the way across the street.
Basically, if you just see a "walk" sign at the far end of the street you may be mislead to believe it is safe to go when, in fact, a closer light may indicate "don't walk" for the part that you are about to cross. So just pay attention and use some common sense - make sure you look both ways before you step out into potential traffic.
This is a warning: if you are traveling by car and want to park in the centre of the city, think twice about it... Parking is hard to find and - what's more - really pricy.
As you can see in the photo (if you enlarge it), for 3 minutes you must expect to pay 2 cents, for 1 hour you pay 4 euros, for 2 hours you pay 8 euros.
The first weekend before 21st June is a holiday that leaves Helsinki closed and deserted
I arrived on the weekend of the summer solstice. I'd heard the Finns celebrated this almost nightless night with great parties. And they do. Just not in Helsinki. The place was deserted. You could have filmed a 28 Days Later movie there. Even the hotel staff disappeared for the weekend, leaving a note saying "back Monday".
If you want the city to yourself, then this is the best weekend to come. But you'll find that almost all of the restaurants, museums, etc. are shut from early Friday afternoon until Monday morning. The only thing that was open seemed to by the Suomenlinna fortress island.
Pedestrian crossing at red light
When we stod at the crossing I saw everybody waiting for the red light to turn green even though there were no cars comming in either direction so I (as always in Stockholm) crossed the street on a red light but no one followed??
I didnk´t understand why until I asked a man, the fines are so high is you cross at red light even if there isn´t any cars. I was lucky that there was no police officer nearby.
SO WHEN THERE´S RED LIGHT AT THE PEDESTRIAN CROSSING WAIT UNTIL IT TURNS GREEN
2 more images
Watch out for the Trams. For a person who is not used to Trams can be really dangerous, ALWAYS look before you cross the street, they can go really fast and it takes a distance for the Trams to stop.
SO BE ALERT. BETTER TO LOOK TWICE.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
Colorado / Margarita’s
I heard complains from friends about cheating on your credit cards here as well of the quality of services, so maybe better to stay away from such places.
There are 3 Colorado's around the centre of Helsinki so this does not mean that all are like that but anyway, be careful.
Beggars, Panhandlers et al
It seems that there has been an increase in the number of people who are begging in the streetsm of the capital. In previous years, there has been some beggars visible - however over the last few months they are now more obvious and many more of them in number.
It does not seem as if they are truly homeless, they look to clean. Last summer, the theme was mother and child in arms. This years, it is single adults who are kneeling and hands clasped as if in prayer.
The beggars are bad enough, but beware of apparently correct people giving a sob story about being 2€ short for train tickets, phone cards and the like. More so if they say they are visitors from the Baltic States.
UK travel adapters cannot be found anywhere!!!
When you go to Helsinki (or anywhere in Finland), take your own travel adapter with you - especially if you are travelling from the UK and have got any appliances that have the UK plugs. You cannot find any adapters that would enable to use electronic gadgets with the UK plugs absolutely anywhere. I know what I'm talking about, since I was looking for one last August and found absolutely nothing. I tried the shops selling luggage, electronic appliances and the main department stores, but there just was zero, nada, none anywhere. Apparently, they don't even stock them. There were masses of other sort of adapters (especially the US-European ones), but not the one I desperately wanted to have!!!
The hair straighteners that I brought with me from the UK where utterly useless during my trip. I managed to buy a travel charger for my phone on the recommendation of one the electrical good shops. The charger fits to the all the electrical plugs everywhere in Europe (except the UK), but next time I travel anywhere out of the British Isles I make sure I've got my travel adapters ready and packed.Related to:
- Business Travel
- Women's Travel
3 more images
People who've got a BIG drinking problem
If you do go around the lovely, but less centrally located Helsinki parks in Summer, be aware that unfortunately the warm weather encourages many Finns to drink too much and there will be some hardcore drinkers hanging around the parks. These people have massive drinking problems and they are certainly not a pretty sight and makes you feel sad/down/upset/disgusted or something else. They are pretty harmless, as they are so wasted, they can hardly speak - let alone walk, but it's better to steer away.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Women's Travel
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