Posted by: Ciaran | October 29, 2009

Changing places – Helsinki

I love Scandinavia, and in due course will be looking at a few more of the capital cities in that part of the world.  But today a short post about Helsinki, which is a relaxing place to get away for the weekend and wander about.  It’s not very big and there’s not a great deal going on, but getting lost in the little back streets and bartering at the seaside market is a relaxing way to spend a day without breaking the bank.

The market is a bit of a stereotype peddling quite a lot of touristic items (think woolly ear muffs and big furry hats, things purporting to be made from reindeer and elk, knives, Father Christmas t-shirts etc.) but it makes a nice stroll along the waterfront towards the city centre, at the end of which you can see the Uspenski Cathedral set on the hill above you.

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Uspenski Cathedral

Better still, you can chat with the friendly people in the small parks dotted around the suburbs and check out the street entertainment.  Not far from Uspenski Cathedral I found a woman who had an assortment of cats which would crawl through tubes and jump into boxes on command.  Later in the day I found this chap:

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'The reindeer man'

It must have been 25 degrees and he was sat there in the midday sun as bus-loads of Japanese tourists took pictures of him.  I don’t know who was the more surprised.  More importantly, he was sat outside the majestic Helsinki Cathedral (do you see a pattern emerging?) in Senate Square, which is worth visiting to check out both the Cathedral and the regal-looking univeristy building.

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Helsinki Cathedral

If you carry on through the square you will come towards the main shopping street and a couple of big department stores and malls.  Head out of the city centre and away from the sea to find yet another place of architectural and religious significance: Temppeliaukio Kirkko, better known as ‘Rock Church’.  It is hidden away in the back streets and I spent about an hour fruitlessly searching for it; ask for directions!

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Rock Church

It is built underground and has a copper wire ceiling; it’s not the most exciting of places but worth stopping by if you’ve got a spare half an hour or so.  You can see more pictures here.

I visited Finland in the summer so can’t speak from experience but I would imagine that it is quite something at this time of year, so if you fancy a weekend away to prepare for the upcoming festive season then I would recommend it.

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Responses

  1. Nice post, i hope i’ll visit the scandinavian countries some day too 🙂

  2. Well worth it if you can (although it is an expensive place to go) – keep an eye out for my forthcoming blogs on Copenhagen, Stockholm and Tallinn 🙂


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