Helsinki is for Lovers
A couple of weeks ago, my partner and I took a spontaneous trip to Helsinki. Many people in Israel questioned our sanity as Helsinki is very cold, even during the spring, but we thought—why not? I wanted to enjoy some cold weather before summer comes, and Idan (my partner) is always up for an adventure. We got a decent deal on round-trip plane tickets from Tel Aviv to Helsinki, and we were off!
We stayed at a super stylish Airbnb that was within walking distance of the city center. I enjoy staying at AirBnb’s over hotels or hostels because they are affordable, and you get to see how people in the city you’re visiting live. Also, going to a local supermarket is one of our past times when we travel, and it is nice to have access to a fully stocked kitchen with cooking oils, pans, and spices.
On our first day in Helsinki, we took a ferry to one of the small islands right outside of the city center, Suomenlinna. Suomenlinna was an old military fortress used by the Finns to protect themselves from incoming Russian invaders. The island is very historical, with interesting museums and beautiful ruins. During the time that this island was functioning as a military fortress and Finland was controlled by the Swedish. Finland has a unique culture as it is not exactly Scandinavian, after being ruled by Russia for some time. It was very interesting to see the old cannons used to try to keep the Russians out of (then) Sweden and the bunkers used to house ammunition, which looked like little Hobbit huts as they were built into small hills.
The last day we were in Finland, we took in some of the contemporary art at the Kiasma Museum. The museum looks very large on the outside, and that is because it houses many large, interactive pieces inside. The size of the pieces makes it easy to see everything if time as limited. While we were there, Ernesto Neto’s work was on exhibition. These pieces had a functional, hippie vibe, and the artist encouraged others to touch and physically use his pieces.
My favorite part of Finnish culture is the saunas. We went to the only wood-burning sauna still in Helsinki called Kotiharjun Sauna Oy. The sauna is split into a men and women part, separate saunas for each. Using the sauna is a series of showering, sitting naked in the sauna and going outside with a towel on to cool down. I decided to get this add-on service called a “scrub down” where a woman used a sponge and scrubbed you down with soap. I would recommend the sauna, but not the scrub down because it was kind of a waste. It was five minutes of lying there and paying someone to use soap and a loofa to clean my body, aka I could have done it myself. It is recommended to be open-minded while in the sauna, as everyone is naked, but the sexes are serviced in opposite sections.
The food in Helsinki is very clean and healthy. Fish is very popular, as Finland is bordered by water. Some unique dishes that I tried were: elk, moose, and reindeer. These are all very lean meats, and I highly encourage everyone to try them. The first exotic (to us) meat that we tried was elk. We asked the waitress what elk tasted like, and she said, “Like the moose!” Moose is a common reference point for other dishes in Finland, who’d of known?! Food is expensive in Finland, and I would recommend getting food from the grocery store and eating breakfast in and having one big meal out.
Finnish fashion is super unique and funky. I picked up a few things from stores Marimekko, Monki, and RCollection. Marimekko is a contemporary price point woman’s store that uses cool prints and clean lines to silhouette the womanly figure; they recently collaborated with Target as well. Monki is a fast-fashion store that has trendy pieces that are affordable for all. We discovered RCollection because our Airbnb host is a designer for this company. RCollection uses high-quality fabrics for outdoor apparel and other basic, uni-sex pieces.
I highly recommend everyone travel to this beautiful Finnish city, to experience: the unique culture, delicious food, stylish apparel, and relaxing saunas. Helsinki could be a great solo trip and was a great trip for us lovers.
Published On Pink Pangea: http://www.pinkpangea.com/2016/05/helsinki-is-for-lovers/