Breakfast in Helsinki – Cargo coffee and vegetarian food

cargo_helsinki_vegan_breakfast_pancakes

For the past year I’ve walked by Cargo coffee every week but haven’t had the chance or a perfect time to actually visit the café. It’s been on our to-do list for a while but sometimes things that are too close (only a couple of blocks from our home) get forgotten. Today, however, we decided to actually do something about it and went for a Saturday morning breakfast at Cargo.

Cargo Coffee is situated just between Kamppi and Ruoholahti at Ruoholahdenranta. It’s built from sea containers and has a bit of an industrial look and feel from the outside combined with Scandinavian design inside. Tram no 9 stops right in front of the café (stop called Länsilinkki) but you will get quite close by also with tram no 6 or tram no 8. You could also continue a late breakfast at Cargo by walking next door to Clarion Hotel’s Sky Room for a drink or two to enjoy the view (opens at 3 PM on Saturdays).

cargo_coffee_helsinki-2

It came as a nice surprise that Cargo only serves vegetarian breakfast and food and there’s also vegan options on the menu. I decided to have a breakfast plate with yogurt, homemade granola and berry compote, hummus, salad avocado, bread and cheese, served with juice and coffee. The rest of the crew choose some vegan pancakes and hot chocolate and a parmigiano omelette. All were very happy with their choices. The omelette was excellent. And the pancakes with fruits &  got a convincing two thumbs up from a junior carnivore.

The breakfast is served from 7.30 to 11 on weekdays and from 10 to 3 PM on Saturdays and Sundays. During the week Cargo also serves vegetarian lunch and in the evenings there’s a separate dinner menu. The open terrace upstairs draws quite a crowd in the summer afternoons and evenings. They do serve wine, after all.

 

 

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Perfect (Saturday) Shopping in Helsinki, Part I

map-for-shopping-in-helsinki

How to spend perfect shopping day in Helsinki? Well, there are surely many different answers but let me introduce one. This text concentrates on shopping (and bit other things as well) around Punavuori area in Helsinki.

Best way to start shopping day is to have breakfast at Café Ekberg (1 in map). This wonderful Café is situated in Bulevardi 9 (less than one kilometre from Railway station or Stockmann). Since pretty popular breakfast place, it is good to make reservation beforehand. Café Ekberg is also perfect place for afternoon snack in case you have had your breakfast at the hotel.

After breakfast I recommend visiting flea market Hietalahden Kirpputori (pictures above, map 2) which I’ve written before. After checking all tables you probably feel like it is good idea to sit down. For that you find small terrace café in front of Hietalahden Kauppahalli (Old Market Hall). After resting a while I recommend to visit Old Market Hall which is next to flea market, where you can find some Finnish handicrafts, vegetables as well as restaurants.

Walking along Fredrikinkatu is a great choice for shopping – you can find many small shops and boutiques. Here I just mention few, but there are plenty more around! Good starting points are three great clothing stores (map 3) in Fredrikinkatu: Liike, Asuna and 2OR+BYYAT. Addresses for these stores are Fredrikinkatu 35 and around (they are really close to each other so when you find one, you will find the others as well). All these stores represent Finnish design (some international as well). Liike and Asuna have labels from different designers, so you get very wide overview of Finnish contemporary fashion in these stores. My favourite label in Liike is “Miun” – I have so many dresses designed and made by them! Also other labels are very interesting. Since smallish labels, you can be pretty sure others will not have the same outfit than you when buying from these small stores. 2OR+BYYAT is more “international”. Their collection is sold worldwide but the brand is based in Helsinki. I especially like their leather designs.

After lots of cloths it is time for some old books – antiquarian books shop Hagelstam opposite of Liike is really worth for visiting. When you have had enough books continue along Fredrikinkatu – after one block you find tiny Fredrikintori market place (map 4) . This time there were flowers, sometimes there are antiquity furniture or vegetables. Right after Fredrikintori market place you find vintage store Ruuturouva (map 5) – that is fun place to drop by and find some vintage bags, shoes and dresses.

 

And after all this shopping you need some nutrition for you soul – for that you have to continue walking Fredrikinkatu and turn left to Merimiehenkatu. At the corner of Fredrikinkatu and Merimiehenkatu you find very cute candy store called Roobertin Herkku (map 6). That is a great place to stop by and buy some sweets. With mouth full of candy continue along Merimiehenkatu towards beautiful Johanneksen Kirkko (Johannes Church) (map 7). If doors are open, you may wonder around there, if not, just admire this 19th century church outside.

johanneksenkirkko-helsinki

Still some energy left? Continue to Annankatu. You find old Finnish tableware and other oldish Finnish design from not so fancy antique store moderndesign.fi at Annankatu 8 (map 8). After popping by continue to the corner of Annankatu and Uudenmaankatu. There you find Formverk (map 9) where you can find nice and handy items for home. After Formverk walk few meters right along Uudenmaankatu and you find Ivana Helsinki, Finnish women cloths designed by Paola Suhonen (map 10). I strongly recommend visit there (also downstairs). I have bought many dresses from there. Next to Ivana there is Punavuoren Peikko which has cute kids clothing offering.

After all shopping, best place to enjoy Helsinki is Ruttopuisto (official name of this park is Vanha Kirkkopuisto) which you find when walking along Annanatu towards north (map 11). However, there might be some Pokemon hunters who will disturb your resting like Marjo wrote earlier

ruttopuisto

If you are hungry, there are many good restaurants near by, I would recommend Soil which I have written before of something in the corner of Ruttopuisto – for example Gaijin with modern Asian flavors or Italian style Toscanini (both situated in Bulevardi, walk along Bulevardi towards Mannerheimintie and you will find them) are great choices.

And even mainly shopping the whole day you have also seen some of the most beautiful neibourhoods of Helsinki – many great buildings along your way – hope you have noticed also them!

Anna

 

Helsinki city bikes

President castle Helsinki

Lately I have been writing a lot about “best things” in Helsinki. This writing is somehow the same theme… You see, one of the best ways to explore town is biking. And since I’ve had some great experiences bicycling around foreign towns like Singapore and Nice I want to tell for you dear readers how to bicycle easily in Helsinki. Cycling is quite easy in Helsinki – not great town for bicycling like Copenhagen – but pretty good anyway. There are many bicycle paths but you have to be prepared to bike also on streets with cars. I wrote last autumn about getting around in Helsinki – some tips there as well.

For tourist there is always a problem to think were to hire a bike. This problem is solved in Helsinki – there are city bikes all over the downtown – around 50 locations to pick a bike. One of the locations is in front of President Castle which is shown on a picture above. You can buy daily, weekly or yearly pass for bikes. Pass covers up to 30 minutes of biking per time. This 30 minutes time is enough to bike from one station to another (since stations are very close to each other). After 30 minutes there will be additional charge for biking longer time. After 5 hours there is a penalty of 80 euros so don’t use bike for more than 5 hours! Since the pricing is like this, there are almost always some bikes at the stations. You find bike stations for example from Railway Station, Kauppatori and Hietaniemen tori (which has also this great flea market I wrote last autumn).

You find more information about city bikes here – there you find English information about renting process, map of all stations as well as how many bikes there are right now in every station.

Pleasant moments exploring Helsinki with city bike,

Anna

 

 

 

 

The best views in Helsinki

Torni views

When you want to see Helsinki skyline and admire our beautiful town from up the best place to visit is Ateljee Bar. This great place is situated on the 14t floor (and that is high in Helsinki since our town doesn’t have skyscrapers) of Hotel Torni. Since in hotel, there are always tourists in the bar, however helsinkians love this please as well. I visit the place at least twice every summer – I love to see town from bird’s eye! The place is not big – there are maybe 10 small tables and 30 chairs inside and some more out. You can’t eat there – the place is only for drinks.

When in Ateljee Bar, you should definitely use the bathroom (you find them one floor down) . I guess the view is the best view from bathroom anywhere in world. Specially the view of the ladies room where you can see two directions is just awesome!

Some interesting history of the place – when opened in 1031, it was the tallest building in Finland. After WWII Hotelli Torni served as the headquarters of the Allied Control Commission which was monitoring how Finland managed with the obligations of the Moscow Armistice.

The address of the place is Kalevankatu 5, it is maybe 200 metres from Stockmann and less than half a kilometre from Central Railway Station.

Anna

Read also: the best vies in Helsinki part 2 ››

After work in Helsinki part II

Wine in HelsinkiSo what did I do last Friday? Well –  I had a fantastic evening going around Punavuori and Kamppi visiting restaurants and bars. Since it was something I can recommend for you to do as well while in Helsinki, I’ll tell you about my night and also share addresses of the restaurants I visited. All these places I visited are closely situated – the walking distance is something like one kilometer you can go walking. They can be visited by group of friends, alone or with someone you love.

 

First I had dinner in a lovely restaurant called Southpark. This restaurant is situated in Park Koff (Koffinpuisto) and the address is Bulevardi 40. Southpark has Southern Californian style in their offering (in their own words, I have visited only San Francisco and surroundings so I don’t know what to expect about Southern California).  It is perfect for brunches, lunches or dinners – however if you want to have only drinks, then you have to find another place. There isn’t wide range of choose for a menu but for sure everyone will find something to enjoy! I would say the menu list is style “less is more” meaning that everything tastes excellent. Personnel seem to know wines very well and they are more than happy to recommend suitable wines for your menu. Restaurant has big windows so there is a great view for the park it is situated. Since restaurant is tiny, I recommend you to make a reservation if having dinner or brunch. Southpark is not fancy so you can enjoy your dinner wearing jeans (but if you want to dress up, that is also possible, no worries).

 

 

After having dinner, we headed a bit north to Kalevankatu 36 where bar Milli Miglia is situated. This bar is a bit kitschy – but in a funny way. Bar is named after Italian car race and also decorated so that you can’t think you are anywhere else. I am not by any means a car race fan but this bar really works for me! I would say there are more women in this bar compared to men, but I just write this for you to understand that even Milli Miglia is named after car race, this place is for everyone to enjoy. Milli Miglia is pretty popular but around 8 pm in Friday we were able to find places to sit down. You can sit here for one drink or you can sit here for the whole evening – whatever you prefer.

 

And were to finish your night – Bar Mockba (Bar Moskow) is an excellent place for that! Above I mentioned Milli Miglia is a bit kitschy. Well – Bar Mockba is exceptional big time! It is totally Soviet Union style and in my understanding owned by film-making Kaurismäki brothers. Mockba is definitely not a hotspot – but definitely one of the classics. To make your night perfect I recommend to taste champanckaya (Russian champagne) and of course some (warmish) vodka. I remember that 15 years ago there was a big poster on a wall which said “In Lenin we trust, others pay cash”. Nowadays you can pay with credit card as well but curtains are still totally USSR style as well as other decorations. And I have to say – service is ex-Eastern European as well – but this fact is very easy to forgive in these surroundings. If you want to spend an evening in a bar where you can see very wide selection of interesting people – you HAVE to visit Mockba. You can be whatever age (over 18 for sure, most people being 35+) and wear whatever you want – you will be looking totally right. The address is Eerikinkatu 11. It is not easy to find since no big signs– try to spot a window with awful soviet style curtains and then open door.

After visiting all these places I think you are ready to head for your hotel or home…

Anna

Moskva Bar Finland

Lux Helsinki Light festival, Part II

Lux Helsinki 2016 light festival at Senate square, Helsinki Cathedral in lights

As Anna wrote last time, we had a light festival Lux Helsinki in the city center last week. This wasn’t the first time we had Lux Helsinki, but this year the light festival was a huge success, over 600 000 visitors walked through the parks and streets and saw the light installations.

I walked the route yesterday evening and made a short video with time lapse from it (bare with me, I’m still learning how to use my Polaroid Cube+).

If you’re planning on coming to Helsinki next year especially during winter I would most definitely recommend checking out Lux Helsinki’s time table for next January and if it will suit your travelling plans! At least I was surprised how good it was this year and how well all the light installations worked in snowy Helsinki.

Marjo

Lux Helsinki 2016 light festival senate square installation

Lux Helsinki – Festival of Light

Lux Helsinki 2015

I have to admit it has been very dark and cold during the last days here in Helsinki. So, you can believe how happy I was yesterday when wondering along Annankatu (street in downtown Helsinki, Kamppi district) and noticing that preparation for yearly Lux Helsinki Festival had started. The actual festival is 6-10.1.2016 and it featrures works of 500 artists.

Annankatu will turn out to be pedestrian area during the festival and there will be some street food sold. Also nearby cafes will have some special refreshments for Lux Helsinki visitors. And believe me, you really want to have glass of something warm in the middle of admiring artwork, it has been terribly cold! Yesterday I also walked by the Ruttopuisto (or old Kirkkopuisto, how is the official name of this lovely park situated between Annankatu, Yrjönkatu, Bulevardi and Lönnrotinkatu) and there was some very lovely lights and installations as well.

Lux Helsinki Annankatu

Artwork was ready to be taken up yesterday in Annankatu (or I guess it was going up, we’ll see tomorrow…)

 

Annankatu and Ruttopuisto are not the only festival arenas – there are also artwork in Senaatintori and other corners in downtown. I recommend you to visit www.luxhelsinki.fi –webpages (also English version available), there is better information about this happening, also map. As you can see, I took some pics yesterday – in reality it will be much more beautiful. Ruttopuisto looked like wonderland with all the different lights and some snow!

Light for all of us,

Anna

 

Olo n:o 22 Outdoor sculpture in Hietalahti

Olo no 22 sculpture in Helsinki

Olo n:o 22 steel spheres in Hietalahti

Sibelius monument in Töölö is probably the most well-known outdoor sculpture in Helsinki, but actually I quite enjoy another one more. It’s called Olo n:o 22 and it is scattered around  Hietalahti. It consists of around 50 polished steel spheres of different sizes and the easiest way to see the spheres is to walk around Hietalahti area for example when visiting Hietalahti flea market Anna wrote about a couple of weeks ago.

In order to show the difference in sizes I took a couple of photos with a matchbox on top of the spheres. It didn’t really give anything extra to the photos but I ended up using one of them (just to explain why there’s a small box in the photo above).

Olo no 22 in Hietalahti

Another Olo n:o 22 sphere in Hietalahti

What I love about Olo n:o 22 is that your’re quite not sure how many spheres there are and where to find them. For instance I discovered a new sphere just a few weeks ago when walking towards Eiranranta. It’s the smallest sphere I’ve found so far and even though I have walked pass it for years  probably every week, I haven’t noticed it earlier. It’s just next to Nosturi concert venue:

Small Olo n:o 22 sphere I just found

Small Olo n:o 22 sphere I just found

I tried to find a map that would have all the steel spheres marked but couldn’t find one with a quick googling. I think it would actually ruin the excitement and joy from discovering new spheres from the surrounding area. Many of the spheres can be seen when walking along Hietalahdenranta (<– see map), but some of them are also inside buildings and courtyards. At least there’s one inside Salve Restaurant and another one in Shubha Kamana Nepalese restaurant. Enjoy the treasure hunt!

Marjo

P.S. There’s at least 2 other Olo outdoor sculptures in Finland: Olo n:o 39 at Karosen Koulu (a school in Tampre) and Olo n:o 44 at Turku University Educarium and Publicum in Turku.

 

Best flea market in Helsinki: Hietsun Kirppis

Hietsun kirppis

Hietsun kirppis

Sometimes I want to buy something which isn’t brand new – I like the idea of my furniture or bag having  a story of its own before starting a one with me. When searching old furniture I’ll go to Fasaani Antiikki. It is not a fancy antique store but lots of fun (I’ll write about that sometimes later). When wanting to buy something smaller than furniture “Hietalahden Kirppis” as Flea Market of Hietalahti is often called, is perfect place. You can find clothes, books, music, tableware… you name it. Usually the items sold in Hietsun kirppis are really something not needed anymore (not some new crappy stuff like sometimes when I’ve tried to find a flea market in Europe), and most of the people selling stuff are just normal Helsinkians wanting to get rid of extra stuff. You can sometimes do really good bargain!

During the weekends Hietalahden Kirppis is one of the liveliest flea markets in Helsinki. I’ve no idea for how long Hietalahden Kirppis has existed. First time I was selling there was in 1990s. Back then it was a bit different – there were ordinary Finns like me selling old stuff but among us there were our (back then) poor neighbours (Russians) selling cigarettes and vodka. Nowadays we can thank for Russians having some luxury stores in Helsinki (I guess we wouldn’t have any without our neighbours) – times change. Today Hietsun kirppis is mixture of vintage, some outdated “gramma clothes”, records and (not authentic) pieces of jewellery. If lucky (and you really want to find), you can find almost whatsoever from bikes to perfect fishing equipment. People selling and buying are everyone from next door neighbor to single mother trying to find cheap clothes. You can also see stylish bloggers and some Finnish celebrities looking for something unique.

turquoise bicycle

Sometimes even bicycles sold

If you get hungry, I recommend visiting nearby Hietalahden Kauppahalli (unfortuntately closed on Sundays) where you can buy delicious lunch. Marjo or me will write more of that sooner or later, I promise.

Hietaniemen Kauppahalli

Hietalahden Kauppahalli

How to find Flea Market of Hietalahti? The address is Bulevardi 42. It is a 10 minutes walk from Railway Station or Stockmann which both are considered to be “the downtown” of Helsinki. If tired, you can take tram 6 next to Stockmann heading south and you will be very fast at the flea market. And a small warning – during winter times Hietalahti Flea Market is usually closed.

Anna