Ignore the title of the post, as it was my failed attempt to be witty; Helsinki, Finland truly lives up to its title of one of the world’s “most livable city” (at least in the summer). Known for its gender equality (#2 in the world, second only to Iceland), coffee consumption, education system, app development, design, and overall happiness, Finland feels less rushed and more “user-friendly” than the other capital cities we’ve come across in Scandinavia.
Our group arrived in Finland at around 10:30am after an overnight Viking Line ferry from Stockholm.
From the port, we took cabs to our hostel, Domus Academica, which is not only a hostel but also doubles as a college dorm during the academic year. We stored our bags there in the meantime and set off to orient ourselves prior to our 3pm check in.
Our first stop about 10 minutes away was Temppeliaukion Church, aka “Rock Church”, built in 1969 as a demonstration of Finland’s distinction in innovative modernist architecture. For a moment, you’ll feel like you’re in a rocky glade somewhere in the far off country whether you’re inside or outside the church.
We then walked southeast 5 minutes towards Kiasma, the symbol of Helsinki’s modernism that also functions as a museum on art and design.
Walking from Kiasma southeast, we noticed Helsinki’s train station on our left that looked like it came out of Gotham City:
Along the northern end of Park Esplanade are a multitude of pedestrian malls where you can go eat and shop on a sunny summer day.
Head further southeast to the main part of Helsinki lying east of Park Esplanade. You’re on the right path when you noticed a long street lined with outdoor cafés designed specifically for people watching:
Then walk a block north to hit the central heart of Helsinki: Senate Square.
At the time of posting, we happened upon a music festival taking place in Helsinki. A giant orchestra with a background chorus was performing to pieces by renowned Finnish composer (and one of my favorites), Jean Sibelius.
Afterwards, we back tracked to the hostel to check into our rooms at 3pm, freshen up and meet Nadi, one of our monsooners and a longtime reader of the blog. She had just flown in this afternoon to be with us for only 2 days here (better than nothing!)
At around 7pm a bunch of us left to walk 20 minutes south to Sea Horse, a famous Finnish restaurant and a local favorite that has been unchanged (food, decor, etc!) since its inception in 1939.
While at Sea Horse, we decided to play restaurant wars with another group who was eating at a Thai restaurant nearby.
After dinner, we headed out on the town, trying to take advantage of all the after-parties that were going on for the music festival. This would be the night Katy would leave us on a 3am flight home; thanks for coming Katy!
– At time of posting in Helsinki, it was 64.4 °F – Humidity: 64% | Wind Speed: 11km/hr | Cloud Cover: clear, sunny