As a city Helsinki is spacious with wide streets and pedestrian paths. But what one can really envy about Helsinki are the cycling paths. Where there is path for pedestrians, there is also a path for cyclists. And the best way to explore a city one doesn’t know? By foot. Therefore I included in my luggage a collapsible pedal scooter. And honestly, that was exactly the right way to get around in this city.
Finding one’s way is not difficult, because sooner or later one reaches the city centre by following the water. There seems to be an excess of wind and water, although with the icy wind 4°C feels like a few degrees below zero. Without gloves and cap life is uncomfortable, particularly riding a scooter. Helsinki is as a city very matter of fact, without pomp, ostentation and baroque frills. But if you think there is not a lot to see, you are badly mistaken.
The market hall on Kauppatori with all its Finnish specialities and the small cafés reminds me of Barcelona, Uspenskin katedraali on the hill above the Kanava Terminal, from where the huge ships depart, is also huge, but feels hospitable and with the mess and singing reminds me of Russia. The entertainment park Linnanmäki for young and old can compete with the Prater in Vienna. The Sibelius Monument is magnificent and with the many bird’s nests gay and lively. But what was really appealing to me is the stone church (Temppeliaukion kirkko). There you feel welcome and at home under the surprisingly large dome that shines like the sun. This architecture is so unique that there is nothing I can compare it to. The pictures, which I have brought for you, speak for themselves.
What is wonderful is the light. At the end of April, the trees have not a single leaf, but shortly after 5.00 am it is light and stays light until 9.00 pm. In June, when night becomes day, it must be beautiful. But in winter, when day becomes night and there is scarcely any light, it must be all the more difficult. When my daughter was small and we were travelling, we played the game Country/City. Someone named a country and the other had to name the capital. When she was asked for the capital of Finland, my second daughter regularly answered „Lichtli versenken“ (verbally translated this would be “lights sinking”. How would you have translated this Expression?).
Many years later we laughed about this, when I was there and I became aware how appropriate her choice was.
Finnish is a language, in which one gets lost and cannot find any way to understand even a few scraps. But thanks to my clever translation app, this was not a problem, because translating from Finnish to German went like clockwork. And lastly the most important: The Finns as a people are simply great, helpful and widely travelled. I can highly recommend Helsinki as a great destination for old and young and also as a family destination. Summer may be the best time, otherwise pack a cap, gloves and rain gear. And of course the scooter.
Sibelius-Monument: Image by Birgit Winter / pixelio.de