• BLOG
  • VISITING FINLAND NOVEMBER 2016

    Tiina Kivelä Lapland

    It was Arctic, Finland November 2016. Snowstorms in Helsinki, below -10°C degrees in Lapland, trains and planes delayed because the cold and snow, and for whatever reasons. And I was delayed from everywhere too, because the phone decided to freeze and because the sparsely build Finnish cities managed to surprise me, after months abroad in  these cozily arranged Swiss towns.

    ONE EVENING IN HELSINKI, FINLAND

    But despite the cold Finland was nice. Most of the time. Seeing dearest friends is always nice. And Lapland is always nice, and Swedish Lapland was the nicest and the most tempting destination showing off in Skiexpo (yes, Swedes have eye for detail and style). And the Skiexpo sidekick party for Freeskiers, Vapaalaskuiltamat at Vanha, was also nice, but this time the hotel bed* and especially solitude, after 5 months in shared dorm-like flat, was more tempting than the party and films for more than short stop. Sorry friends, I can see them later online I hope. And hopefully see you all f2f in the Swiss slopes this winter; welcome to Jungfrau Region, I’m waiting!

     

    TWO DAYS IN LAPLAND

    And then there was the Lapland in details. Santa Claus Village, of course, as it happens to be so cozily on my way always. There was Arctic Light hotel, pampering with the in-room Sauna, polar bears and the famous, best ever breakfast! Highly recommended. And there was couple of drinks and beer tasting at friend’s place (greetings to Haarige Kuh Brauerei, you got very good reviews!) too.

    And then there was more Sauna at the original home, packing and frozen surroundings (and one broken red wine bottle in the checked in carry-on, damn.. (Goodbye that carry on and nice paper wrappers for swiss chocolate). And a last dinner at Roka, and way too early wake up call for the flight back.

    LOOKING FOR AN ASSISTANT

    After all this I have to confess that at some point during all that traveling, including the last day with wake up call at 4 am, 12h traveling in 2 flights and 2 trains, with 4 bags and couple of kilos too much, I decided this was the last time I took care of everything by myself. For the next time I’ll hire a personal assistant. Or find a husband, as that would suit better my poor budget… Or something. Too many bruises and aching muscles to count now, no matter how proud of myself I am after surviving the challenge in one piece and with all the bags (except the one^ destroyed by that bottle of wine).

    And in the end I would like to say, if this isn’t already clear enough: Go to Finland, and especially Lapland! It’s always worth it, and it kinda needs it. These days you can even take direct Germania flight from Zurich to Rovaniemi, if you’re from Switzerland or close.

    Or the other way round, dear Lapland people. Your host is waiting for the first guests! The cute little villages are dressing up with fairy lights and snow. Can’t get more idyllic for the end of the year. Both in Lapland and in Switzerland.

     


    FI:

    Lappi on aina hyvä idea. Ja Sveitsi myös.


    *Ps. I have to ask, Clarion Hotel Helsinki Airport, where was the real butter and fatty milk for coffee in breakfast? ? Non fat is so last season, didn’t you know? 

  • BLOG
  • FINLAND, YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL, AND I’M GONNA SEE YOU ALREADY IN 2016

    Tiina Kivelä

    Last week, on a crispy morning when the nearby mountaintops shined brightly with the season’s first layer of virgin snow, I picked up Skiexpo tickets from my mailbox and noticed how the everyday going got bit lighter again. North Country Finland, and especially Lapland, your girl is coming home! And to a which place; third best country to visit in 2017. So if you like, I may test some places for your 2017 visit, as I’m going there already in 2016, more precisely next week.

    Like a real tourist, I am going to experience stopover* in Helsinki and visit birefly Skiexpo, for which I guess I should make a list on what kind of gear and resort news I’m especially interested in, as I will use this one as a rehearsal for the big plan: my first ISPO visit in 2017 (that’s one of my “best in 2017”). There I’ll also meet fellow swissfinnish and Austrian freeskier friends, funnily enough,  and drink one or two drinks in Bronda in good non-skier company. I’ll also test the newest Airport Hotel in town (gone are the days when I slept in airports – for good, hopefully) before catching the connecting flight to the original home the next morning.

    [ Edit. Check out the Slush Guide for Helsinki here. It kind of lists all my favorites in town. ]

    AND THEN I TAKE LAPLAND

    Beloved Lapland, I’ll always miss you (and carry part of you with me, wherever I go). Luckily it’s not long anymore till we meet again. This time I’ll come to you to do compulsory “emigrant” activities as renew my passport, which hopefully works out, no matter how hard in 2016 it seems for Finland to offer easy passport renewal process, especially for us emigrants, pfff.  Moreover I’ll pack more stuff to bring carry to Switzerland (skis!), and test finally the Arctic Light Hotel, and enjoy sauna, silence and hygge. Maybe one day I go back for good. Not yet, but maybe someday. And until that and after my stopover trip, I think I’ll have to try the direct flights from abroad to Lapland, and vice versa (check Norwegian and Germania, if you too are interested).

    Because no matter how cool and must see place Finland is in 2017, Lapland is still the best. Just look at these Absinthe coloured Northern Lights. No wonder the absinthe shop next door here in Switzerland makes me feel so home…


    *We (emigrant) Lappish’ must have been Finnair’s most loyal stopover customers long before Asians and I wonder why they haven’t thought about creating tempting packages for us too…


    FI

    Hei Lappi, olen tulossa hetkeksi kotiin! Ja mikä luksusmatka ja ennakkotutustuminen turistina vuoden 2017 kolmanneksi parhaaseen matkakohteeseen Suomeen siitä tuleekaan, näillä lentohinnoilla ja rajoitetulla aikataululla.

    Luvassa kunnon turistina stopover Helsingissä, Bronda ja Skiexpo (ajattelin ottaa tämän pikaisen vierailun harjoituksena ensi vuotta ja elämäni ensimmäistä ISPO -vierailua varten) ja etelän tutut, kylän uusimman airport hotellin testaus (toivottavasti ei koskaan enää erityisen villistä nuoruudesta tuttua lentokentällä nukkumista). Pääkaupungin jälkeen Rovaniemi, Arctic Light Hotel, koti® ja tietysti sauna joka ilta. Pakollisiin menoihin kuuluu myös passin uusiminen ja muuttokuorman täydennys (suksilla), ja mahdollisimman monen rakkaan halaaminen. Ja kaikki tämä vain muutamassa päivässä, sisältäen junat Geneveen ja takaisin sekä lennot Genevestä ja takaisin. Kuten eräänä iltana toisen kahden maan välissä asuvan kanssa juttelimme, useimmiten ne kotimatkat ovat aikamoisia työmatkoja. Mukavia, mutta tavallaan todella raskaita.

    Ei sillä että nykyarki olisi paljon kevyempää. 9h työpäivät, vähenevä valo ja hieman asia kuin asia on saanut olon aika väsyneeksi viime aikoina. Mutta kuten sanonta menee, Siperia opettaa ja kaiken raskauden keskellä olen onnellinen että selviän kuitenkin kaikesta hengissä, ja onhan tämä kaikki hyvin opettavaista ja kasvattavaa. Ja tämä paikka, nämä vuoret ja nämä ihmiset! Ne auttavat muistamaan kaiken keskellä kuinka hyvä on olla ihan vain elossa ja näissä maisemissa. Ja niin, kohta pääsee myös sinne pohjoiseenkin hengittämään vähän kevyempää ilmaa (ei se kyllä kovin raskasta ole täällä vuorillakaan).

    Pidemmittä puheitta, tulkaa tervehtimään jos satutte samoille expoille tai Lapin kuppiloihin. Jakelen parhaita sveitsivinkkejäni ilmaiseksi, kun vain kauniisti pyydetään. Ja miksei Lappikin.

  • BLOG
  • EATING AND DRINKING IN HELSINKI

    tiinakivela.com

    At the Nordic Travel Fair I got asked if I knew the places for eating and drinking in Helsinki. Oh the trap of looking like a local*. Unfortunately, right there and then I didn’t have excellent, up to date tips to share with them. Situation is different now though.

    I wish the they would be asking that same question now, because later on that weekend I updated my knowledge of the places to eat and drink in Helsinki, thanks to local friends, good timing and some luck. And since I didn’t have the information I now have, to share with them there and then, it’s time to correct the situation here. Better late than never, they say.

    So here you have, freshly tested and tasted and now recommended, eating and drinking (maybe even some dancing and singing) locations in Helsinki.

    Lunching at Skiffer, Erottaja 11

    Like the name suggests, Skiffer has its roots in sailing and a close connection to the sea it lives by. They serve “liuska” which are like pizza but not all like pizza (good though) and which got their name from a oval shaped “Liuskaluoto”, in where Skiffer also holds another location serving the hungry through Finnish sailing season. The Skiffer Erottaja is open year round.

    The liuskas  are excellent and they offer quite a good selection of wines (and beer too). Extra points for having Urban A (I do love my new scarf a lot) and other great shopping close by.

    eat and drink in helsinki

    Skiffer Interior

    Coffee at La Torrefazione, Aleksanterinkatu 50 B

    Classic, I would say. Great location near shopping and railway station, excellent coffee and sandwiches. Simply good.

    tiinakivela.com/latorrefazione

    WiNING at Roasberg, Mikonkatu 13

    Relaxed, cozy and well waited place at the city. They serve coffee, lunch and wine (and great cakes – never forget the cakes if and when worth mentioning). Extra points for the convenient location near railway station and Ateneum.

    tiinakivela.com/helsinki

    Burgers at Naughty Brgr, Lönnrotinkatu 13

    The place to be if and when you want to taste the most talked burgers in town. No reservations. But please, take note: the best burgers in Finland you’ll get from Rovaniemi (Kauppayhtiö, to be precise). The guy behind the burgers is the same on both places and one could argue that Lapland is not Finland, so maybe, maybe we can say that the best burgers in Finland you get from Naughty Brgr. (But still, the best burgers in the Nordics you get from Kauppayhtiö.)

    Naughty Brgr

    eating at Famu, Mannerheimintie 46 / Scandic Park

    I rarely eat at the hotel restaurants (other than breakfast), but since Scandic has this great deal for its Friends and I happened to be very hungry on Friday, after a very long day at the Nordic Travel Fair and sauna, I decided to give Famu a try.

    The interior is modern, very nice (works well with the breakfast too) and the food is good enough. Didn’t take the lead from the previous occasion I had a dinner at the hotel restaurant though. But if and when you’re competing with Långa Raden (Hotel Skeppsholmen, Stockholm), you can (should) be happy with the label good.

    Famu

    Cocktails at Bronda, Eteläesplanadi 20

    Bronda if something is in at Helsinki. I still haven’t tried the food there (for that reservations are more than recommended) but on Saturday we managed to find free seats just popping by at Bronda Bar, to try the cocktails, and well… I’m speechless. Or almost speechless. Because I want to say that the drinks were excellent. Delicious, exotic and innovative (if innovative is a word one can use for drinks then I want to use it right here); the first sip of a the “chaos” drink brought me directly to the paradise I’ve never been to but which I can easily imagine – a beach, a palm tree, pitch black but warm night and the sound of waves washing the shoreline…

    Extra points for interior, quirky but professional service and beautiful / handsome people.

    tiinakivela.com/bronda

    tiinakivela.com/bronda

    singing at Restroom, Tehtaankatu 23 A

    I rarely do karaoke, but if and when that happens, Restroom is the place to be. Not going to tell you more – you have to experience it yourself.

    Last but not least – friends with benefits

    I have the pleasure (well, one could say it’s not a pleasure since I’m not living there) to have many friends living in Helsinki, and sometimes I take the couchsurfing option since it has its perks like this: a candlelight dinner for two. With wine and talk.

    I can’t give you the address though, but I’ve heard the trend of people organizing open dinners in their private kitchens (so called underground dining) are coming to Helsinki too (if not even already there – so keep your ears open).

    tiinakivela.com

    Other great not-so ordinary eating and drinking option are these private parties, as the occasion was last Thursday when I had the privilege to attend*** the NBE PARTY with Finnish Travel Bloggers hosted by Radisson Blu Plaza (who surprised me with their looks and atmosphere, both the hotel, staff and fellow bloggers).

    Kiitos ja anteeksi, as we say in Finland.

    tiinakivela.com/radissonplaza

    Helsinki is, like Finland in general, an expensive place to eat and drink, but if and when you get this quality and great service for your money (or you just simply have the money) I can say Helsinki is a nice foodie location. Especially when it comes to these simple, minimalistic, nordic cool places.

    If and when you have any questions, other great tips to share or you just want to say something, feel free to use the comment box below or contact me in some other way. And remember to eat and drink, whatever you prefer.


     

    * Hi there, if you happen to read this. It was nice to meet you!

    **Huge thanks to everyone who’ve treated me so well there over the years.

    *** I still have a problem calling myself a blogger. But working on it, during the weekend almost professionally even 😉