• To The North – Lapland


    Something strange happened at the Nordic Travel Fair. I realized that my go to destination this spring is Lapland. And maybe Iceland Stopover too, on my way to the other North, North America. And maybe Bilbao, again and with more time…

    But lets talk about Lapland first. Lapland, which is the home (& the North Country) and the most magnificent place on earth. Something which I always return to and to which I now want to visit almost desperately. Homesickness and wanderlust combined, maybe.

    But why Lapland, eventually? Why Lapland, over all the other places; the sunny beaches, big mountains and big skiing, colorful drinks and bustling cities? And why am I telling you this?



    There’s couple of reasons, both for my own desire and for why I want to inspire others, you, to travel there. One, there’s so many new cool places to visit, restaurants to eat in, shops to shop in and exhibitions to take a look at. And most importantly, there’s so many friends and family members to hug and kiss, the ones who I’ve seen too rarely the recent years.

    Second, there’s now a special person (or well, many persons – my dear friends, I’m always ready to be your personal Lapland guide) for whom I would like to show it, my home, Lapland, in its entity; so wide and open* and unique. I wanna show what I’m really made of (also goes as a reminder to myself) and what kind of challenges and possibilities it offers. A haunting place with lots of opportunities, especially for a visitor looking for the extremes; adventures, sauna, open fire, peacefulness, wellness, fresh and pure local food, great design and wilderness with only a tiny touch of human. I also want to hear the honest, objective comments from someone who’s never been there. Maybe some of them I’ll be able to share with you too (the funniest ones at least, I promise).


    Lapland in the spring (my spring starts in February – arriving with the first cutting sharp rays of sun) also offers one of the finest, purest experiences; white snowy landscape with little snow diamonds shining all over the place (remember your sunnies)! It’s really magical the way the Lappish landscape gives off light, especially during the spring months. Wouldn’t you like to ski into this too?

    Third, what you really need when traveling to and in Lapland, is time. Lots of time. Time is also something for which you should go there for, especially in these turbulent, almost chaotic times we live in our societies. Lapland is not for instant breaks. It’s for pausing, getting used to that Lappish rhythm (if you’d speak Finnish, you’d even hear the difference in our dialect) and getting that sense of respite, solitude and comfort.


    Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side

    Despite the calm, Lapland also has the wild in her. Even though offering almost exceptionally well functioning infrastructure and service (it’s really not that easy up north), she does have her wild side left. So keep your eyes open even in the most silent, peaceful moments. Lapland is a wilderness. It also helps to keep in mind that even though in Lapland they’ve taken tourism security seriously and the good infrastructure is there to help, planning well in advance, taking everything possible into consideration and being aware that everything can change suddenly and without warning, saves lives.**

    Lapland makes you understand that even though you can live from the nature and adjust to it, you can’t really change it (just think about how big powers climate change needs to happen).  In Lapland its so easy to find that perspective, to realize how tiny we really are. And when you realize it (or in my case, remember it again) you easily start (or remember) to respect the nature; to be humble in front of it.

    Time, patience and awareness are also needed for the distances in Lapland. You can compensate with money though, take a flight over train or central accommodation over cabin in the forest. But I’d like to remind you, that traveling as it’s purest form is to be on the move, on the road. Roadtrip, anyone?

    Remember to take care though.

    My lapland

    I also want to show how my Lapland has no national borders – how the Swedish Lapland and Northern Norway both are as close to my heart as Finnish Lapland, closer even than Southern Finland, no matter what my passport says. And still, despite these shared characteristics, I want to show how different they are, and why some things are better exactly where they are, how all the places have their own strengths and weaknesses.

    This transnationality helps if and when you like mountains and sea, but have happened to born in flatlands, by the river, like I do. It’s good to be able to borrow from the dear neighbors easily, especially since crossing the borders is (or has until now been) easy in the Arctic Europe.

    working girl from the north country

    Planning Travels for Lapland

    I’m now on the planning mode, pockets full of ideas and invitations. There will / should be Arctic Design Week, Arctic Light Hotel,  Santa Claus, snow, skiing, great outdoors, Riksgränsen, National Parks, sauna, cabins, reindeer and so much more. And there should be something geographically new for me too, the Lapland north from Inari.

    More than anything I want to show the Northern Lights. But if the real ones decide not to show, I now know that I should call Finnair and ask where they got that amazing Northern Lights Ceiling at their Nordic Travel Fair stand.


    Moreover it would be amazing to get there on time to visit the North Country Fair, aka Jokkmok Market, but unfortunately that doesn’t seem to fit to my timetable, this year again (it’s far and the accommodation options nearby are limited – but and if you have any tips or better knowledge than I do, please share those, in the comments or by email).

    Basically, I’d just like to live the song, you know.

    When I talk about open & Lapland, I mean both the landscape and the people. Yes, most of us have nothing to do with the image of reserved and silent Finnish people. 

    ** And remember – the most important thing is to come back home safely in the end of the day. 

  • BLOG
  • Eating & Drinking Well In Helsinki


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.



    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).


    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.


    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 – Even in Helsinki


    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.


    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!


    – 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.