Saturday, May 5, 2012

Reindeer, fish and cold weather in Helsinki

We swapped the hot weather, picnics and beer in Prague for freezing cold weather, pickled fish, coffees and snuggling in Helsinki. It's spring in Finland, and by that we mean the coldest winter's day in Joburg! Us Africans are just not built for cold weather... The Finnish seemed to be super excited at the promise of spring by eating ice cream!! and wearing short sleeved clothes... When it was 5C outside! We, on the other hand, wore EVERYTHING in our suitcases - and were still freezing!

The strangest thing about Helsinki is that one would imagine a place that cold to be dark and dreary, but in actual fact it is one of the brightest, slickest cities we've been to - where the sun (more like a bright light that doesn't generate heat) only sets at 22:30! The people of the city are sophisticated and seem to take the cold weather in their elegant strides, even riding vintage cycles in skirts and high heels. What was also seriously impressive was the ease of communicating with everyone - English is their third language, and they speak it more fluently than most English do. One of the biggest down sides of Helsinki is how expensive it is... There really aren't many budget or middle-of-the-road options, it's pay up or nothing. It's not a holiday destination that is light on the pocket.

We stayed in a fantastic hotel on katajanokka island - an old prison that was built in 1837. The entire hotel is prison themed, even serving breakfast on steel plates! The room was cosy (still with steel bars over the windows), modern and had some of the most comfortable beds we've ever slept in - great in a city where snuggling is imperative :)

Here are some of our highlights:
PS Read our post on the restaurant Juuri we visited, the food was fantastic!
PPS The the Fins have a very strange way of writing, we couldn't make out a word, for eg Luomumaksalaatikkoa is the finnish word for organic.

Outside our prison hotel, wearing LOTS of layers!

Real bars! Creepy but cool.

An amazing dinner of Sapas at Juuri where we tasted Reindeer!

Beautiful church on a hill - perfect refuge from the cold.

We drank lots of coffee on the sidewalks.

Stark white cathedral in the center of the city.

Spring is almost in Helsinki - although it doesn't quite look like it...

Ice cold 'long drinks' in a theme park actually help against the cold.

Breakfast in the hotel on steel plates - lots of cold fish, pickles and rye bread.

Fish & Chips on the street; grilled Salmon, fried Vedance, potato rounds and dill mayo - delish!

They have these ice cream stalls all over... Seriously??

A little spot of sunshine, coffee and pastries. :)

Daffodils have popped up all over the city - so pretty!

Wiets attaching our heart lock to the 'bridge of love' :)

Picnic spread in our hotel room.

Location:Helsinki, Finland

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