Helsinki round two involved some buses and exploring Moomin land. Funnily enough when I got back from this trip I did binge-watch that tv show on YouTube for a good few weeks. There’s something wacky about it that kept me engaged (and I did eat a lot of Moomin shaped cookies whilst there).
The Sibelius Monument is dedicated to Finnish composer Jean Sibelius and located in a park a little north of the main city centre. The park itself is a lovely green space but the sculpture definitely owns the area. It is a huge piece made of hollow tubes to symbolise an organ and the movement of music. When we arrived a tourist bus was already there and it was overrun with people but if you wait ten or so minutes they disappear and you can have a more peaceful experience there. It’s a great stop-off point if you’re heading to Seurasaari (which we were), which is an island that houses a bunch of old, Finnish buildings. They come from all over the country to give an idea of Finnish country-life back in the day. It works as a kind of open-air museum where you walk around at your leisure and come across these different historic buildings and ancient architecture. The island itself also has a cafe, wild animals, nude beaches (ooh lala) and a real outdoorsy, mythical feel to it. If the weather is good bring a swimming costume (or bare all).
As you’ll have seen in my previous post there are a lot of churches and chapels in Helsinki. One of the most iconic and architecturally gorgeous is the Kamppi Chapel, aka Chapel of Silence. It is located right in the centre of the city and from the outside looks like an orange pod. I find it really fascinating as from the outside you can’t really tell what it is or have any idea why it’s there. They are ecumenical and welcome everyone so we went inside for a little reflection and quiet. The acoustics inside are minimal and all noise from the busy square is completely lost. The space is small but oh so quiet and oh so delicate. Curved wood goes around the walls with a little poke of light from the top. If you find yourself overwhelmed from city slaving, walking or general hangry people – take a break here and soak in the unique experience.
Another church is Temppeliaukio or Rock Church as it was built directly into solid rock. When I first heard about this I was beyond excited and envisioned a cave or troll-like venue. I think I built that idea up too much as when I got there I was quite disappointed to know it was still street-level and just surrounded by rocks. Needless to say we went inside and it was very beautiful. The contrast of outside and inside elements is refreshing and you do feel like you’re out somewhere rural with all the bare stone. Bizarrely I got Israel flashbacks to their fake, wedding venues that kind of copy this interior design haha.
Next up was a spontaneous one as it was on our walk home. If the weather is nice then a trip to Linnanmaki is a delight. It’s their version of Tivoli or retro-Disney and located up on a hill with wicked views of the city. You just buy tickets for rides you want (or you can get an all access band). They do however offer a selection of rides for free so check them out for quick thrills. We went on the oldest ride Vuoristorata, a wooden rollercoaster (you can just make it out below in pictures). I just love how accessible the park is and how it’s surrounded by houses haha – perfect for a little adrenaline either before or after work.
To finish (see what I did there) these posts, you can’t go to Finland and not do sauna. Fortunately the place we were renting had one so we turned up the heat and enjoyed it for an evening. We did several dip ins and dip outs, sweating out our worries and in between drank some Finnish beer.