• 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 😉

  • BLOG
  • HOME IS WHERE THE SNOW IS

    tiinakivela.com

    On Saturday the snow started to fall from the sky above Helsinki. The big freeze was over and big, heavy but fluffy flakes took the place, falling down, swirling and dancing in the air, looking like they’d not really know what to do or where to go; to fall down and cover everything there or to go with the flow, dance dance dance and sail away. The white covered the people also, going in bars and coming out from bars, hugging and kissing their (our) loved ones and admiring the white, christmassy scenery.

    tiinakivela.com

    This morning I was sitting at the communal* table at Scandic Park (good hotel in Helsinki, btw) having my breakfast, cup of coffee in my hands** and BBC World reporting how New Yorkers were copying with their snow blizzard***. It was one of those moments and sceneries of respite; when all you can and should do is sit there enjoying the serenity.

    Like the flakes I don’t exactly know what I’m doing and where I’m going. Life’s smooth sailing when you let the snow to shut down the hustle. The last five days have brought to me lots of hustle, many new acquaintances and ideas, raising my  wanderlust to the high risk level. Nevertheless I noticed this trust also, the trust that even though nothing is sure and we live in the middle of very turbulent times, everything is going to be ok. New marvelous adventures and possibilities are waiting us just around the corner, hiding there between the pillows of snow. For so privileged we are.

    Snowy Helsinki

    When the snow covers our neighborhood

    Earlier on I had taken some slow laps in the hotel pool, snow piling up on the window sills and parts of the roofs which I could see from the pool located at 9th floor (another great thing with this particular hotel). Later on, after swim, before coffee, I sat in the sauna watching the snow fall like a big white curtain before Helsinki skyline. There in the sauna a lady (who briefly explained to me it was her first time ever in sauna) asked me how long I normally “sauna”, which made me realize I haven’t really thought about it. For me, sauna is for the sense of respite. I sit there quiet (when alone), enjoy the warmth and forget to count the seconds, minutes or hours.

    Like these winter Sundays, sauna seems to bring that soothing sense of solitude and respite. No wonder they sometimes prefer to sauna as holy, church like place. And no wonder (quiet) Sundays still have so special, almost holy meaning in our modern societies.

    At the Nordic Travel Fair, where I’d spend the previous days, wellness (especially the Finnish kind of) was raised up as the thing in travel right now.  And I, if someone, have started the year living that trend to the fullest. While sitting on the bus on my way back north, I thought how for me this trip definitely was a wellness travel one. I didn’t eat especially healthy nor did I do any sports (if and when we don’t count the brief, almost casual hotel room yoga) but still, the weekend did the trick and ended with this feeling of wellbeing.  Maybe because if something, wellness is to be in peace with yourself and your surroundings. Maybe because it’s not just about the physical but also or even more about the mental wellbeing.

    All of this is highly recommended for you too to try. In the best possible scenario, you too would already have had as peaceful, relaxed Sunday or at least some moments like that. With courage to the new week folks!

    whiteout

    – Featured Image : Heli Huhanatti


     

    *Have I already told you how I love communal tables at restaurants? Well, now I did. They’re awesome and I never forget the first ones I dated, Kaffebønna (Strandtroget, Tromsø) and Pain Perdu ( 9 Walpoortstraat, Ghent). Highly recommended, especially if and when traveling / eating / drinking out alone

    ** You know it’s Sunday / snowing / cold when you’re holding your coffee with both hands.

    *** Snow is beautiful but dangerous thing and you should take it seriously, but part of me can’t help smirking how easily this pure and white and fluffy thing can paralyze our modern societies from time to time.