Sunday, 21 March 2010

Snowy (Honest Guv) Helsinki last week

When I arrived in Helsinki last Thursday afternoon, this was the view from my window into the garden, and the frozen sea beyond. The following morning it snowed, but in the afternoon the sun came out and there were people skiing on the ice. During the week we even spotted two fishermen drilling a hole in the ice and perching on their little seats to wait for a catch. Rather them than me.

I preferred being in the city centre, walking on the slippery pavements or hopping onto the tram to keep warm for a while...

or dropping into the famous Ekberg Cafe on Bulevardi for a quick coffee and warm sandwich or an Alexander cake.

This was the view of the Helsinki Railway Station from the tram stop opposite. The building is being renovated at the moment, so the picture doesn't really give credit to the wonderful design by Eliel Saarinen. The clock tower (here wrapped up on the right side of the picture) was unveiled the day I left Finland. It's clean-up took much longer than anticipated and cost over 4.7 million Euros - three times the amount estimated. Apparently there was substantial damage to the tower. Damp had penetrated the over 3,600 blocks of granite and the builders had to remove, clean and replace each one. But luckily the renovation will be complete by 1st of May, in time for the traditional Vappu celebrations.

Animated versions of the two statues either side of the entrance, holding the spherical lamps, are currently used in a VR (Finnish National Railways) advert on TV. I was told they're often being parodied, but Daughter had to point the connection in the TV advert out to me. Another moment when I felt a virtual foreigner in my own country.

I hope these pictures will convince the doubters that it really was quite snowy and icy in Helsinki even as late as middle of March. Honestly, I wasn't lying.


Looking Fab in your forties said...

I just wrote a comment and lost it! I think I said:- I never fancied visiting any other city except Paris and New York until I started blogging. Now I see pictures of and read posts about places I never even thought about before and would love to visit. I could hear a tram as I read your post and imagined travelling to the Cafe you mentioned. Shame we only have the budget for one holiday somewhere warm each year. Nearly forgot, I did go to Barcelona once, for the football.

Wildernesschic said...

Looks wonderful although I am fed up of winter it has a real beauty... it just needs a cup of Earl Grey ;0 .
Helena I never go away so anywhere else is lovely xxx I am going to make you a cup of tea one day that you will enjoy.. xxx

Helena Halme said...

if you want warmth in Helsinki go in June, Fab, although it's a bit like English summer weather; there are no guarantees.

Ruth, I'm sure one of your cups of Ear Grey would do it for me. Daughter would die without her tea...and I do drink a liquorish tea, but it's more of an infusion. And that's only to keep my caffeine levels under control.

Helena xx

Helena Halme said...

Oh dear, can you tell I've been away from the blogosphere and have lost my ability to spell? Of course I meant Earl Grey not Ear Grey...xx

BLOGitse said...

Greetings from a Finnish expat woman from Cairo, Egypt (soon in Casablanca, Morocco)!
I'll be back! :)


Metropolitan Mum said...

Sometimes, when London is really getting to me, I say the magical words "we could be very happy in Sweden" to my husband. Then he reminds me of the very, very long and very, very dark winter, and I am more or less cured from the urge to move quickly. I guess Finland is not much better regarding lengthy winters.

North West London Girl said...

Although it's obviously absolutely freezing, I see beautiful blue sky poking through, which must make the whole place seem slightly spring like - maybe..

Sandy said...

I thought it was cold and snowy all the time in Helsinki. :-) Just kidding! Nice photos. Looks like a lovely place.