Monday, June 23, 2014

TOP5 of Helsinki

I've been whining about Finland for months now (mostly on Facebook though) and Helsinki being a rathole. I haven't entirely given up on that, at least not yet, still working on my adaptation but...
I must admit some things here do rock. So, for the sake of crappy weather, here's a TOP 5 (woohoo!) listing of what makes Helsinki a good place to be. (For now...)

These pastries are buttery and filled with raspberry jam.
 1. STABILITY
My relationship with my work is like an old marriage. I'm kinda done with this guy, but am too confortable getting out. Finding a lover? Who can deal with the hassle? Still, I blame myself daily: I'd deserve so much more. Maybe there's some love even, dunno?

Having kids is basically FREE in Helsinki. You'll have to provide them with a travel card, a phone and some food + clothing. All the rest (school, doctors, dentists, vaccins, insurance...) are free and hobbies come a lot cheaper than in the U.S.

The City of Helsinki also provides housing for the likes of me: a missfit with a steady job yet no savings whatsoever to purchase even a tiniest hut. And two under-aged kids to raise, alone. The rent is relatively cheap and the places generally well maintained. Our appartment is such a jewel (now that I've scrubbed it thoroughly.)

2. BREAD & PASTRIES
In a grocery store, you'll find so many different types of bread! Rye in tens of forms, Italian, wheat, toast, buns with different tastes (carrot, cheese, garlic...), German grain bread, Swedish sweet bread and crackers... So tasty! And the pastries come in tens of forms, too. Very very very good and very very very fattening... Had to cut down the consumption of these after I gained some 5-6 kilos since January...

3. KÖKET AND QULMA
I owe a lot of my mental sanity to the coffee girls at Cafe Köket right next to my office. They also do lunch and have several temporary summer locations around the city. A wonderful place, friendly, personalized service, great decor, creative tastes - just the way I like it. I still haven't tried the weekend brunch as I don't usually hang out near my office on weekends, but I will one day.

Another (old favourite) that thank heavens still exists after my years abroad: the Qulma soup & baked potato bar (again) near my office in Krunikka. They have three different soups daily in the buffet as well as a salad bar option combined with a baked potato.For the price of 10 euros. I think it is pretty fair.

4. FLEA STUFF
Finns are big on second hand trading. The local "craigslist" is called Tori.fi (there's also Huuto.net) Every neighborhood has their own recycling site on Facebook. I've bought so much second hand stuff online lately (a sofa, home appliences, kitchenware, a bike, a lamp, a guinea pig...) My favourite actual shops are Olkkari&Kruunukirppu, KEKO, Fida lähetystorit. Also worth mentioning: the Siivouspäivä event, organized twice a year. Great fun! I have a plan to visit more fleas this summer.

5. THE SEA
In DC, I missed water. I grew up in Tampere surrounded by lakes. In Helsinki there's the sea. Love seeing the shore from Kauppatori (near my office) and the boats in little harbours around the city (even near my home), the beaches and islands and hearing the shrieks of the seagulls. Truly one of the best features of Helsinki is the sea around it. It changes its colour and freezes in the winter. It is just beautiful.

I also like: retro people in their hipster uniforms (Jopo bike + Converse allstars), the no-car zones in the center and Esplanadi Park, Cafe Ursula in Kaivopuisto, many other small restaurants and the trams, the feeling inside the Central Railway Station and the old City center in its entirety. I like Stockmann Deli and I would like the open pools of Stadika and Kumpula if the weather were any better... See, not so bad. After all. And getting better as we speak.

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