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

 

Best Pokémon GO stops in Helsinki

 

Ok, I’m not an expert in Pokémon GO, I have to admit it, but for the past month I’ve been playing it every now and then and I think I’ve gotten a hang of it – kinda. Last week I learnt how to evolve Pokemons and this week I tried out a gym for the first time (lost both fights, though). My first Pikachu hatched yesterday and yesterday and today I got to level 11.

I was mostly away from Helsinki in July when the game was released in Finland and for the past 1,5 weeks I’ve had the chance to try it out in my home town as well and decided to make a short list of the best places to play Pokémon GO in Helsinki. This is my top 3 list – for now.

  1. Vanha Kirkkopuisto (also known as Ruttopuisto)

 

Situated between Bulevardi and Lönnrotinkatu this small park next to the oldest church in Helsinki has become one of the most popular spots for Pokémon GO players. There are 8 Pokéstops in the park and there seems to be lures on all the time. There are no gyms, however, which means you need to walk a bit further for that.

Today I grabbed a burrito from Cholo  and had lunch at the park bench and got myself at least Jigglypuff, Paras, Spearow, Zubat, Clefairy, 2x Rattata, Drowzee, Pidgeotto, Machop, Bellsprout, Gastly and Horsea. I also got my first Jynx from this park last week. So far the park has been quite full with younger schoolchildren. Let’s see will the popularity continue when schools start this week.

2. Kaivopiha’s steps

Similar to Vanha Kirkkopuisto, this spot is situated in the very center of Helsinki and it has quite a many Pokéstops in the area. Unlike many others, I haven’t actually sat down to the stairs to play but I have taken a couple of extra steps to walk through this spot just to gather a couple of more Pokémons.

3. Kaivopuisto park

Mattolaituri_in_Kaivopuisto

A very nice park for picnic and an afternoon walk by the seaside – and therefore also for Pokémon hunting. If you get tired of walking in the park and would rather have a nice glass of wine, Mattolaituri is just next to the park by the seaside. And if you get tired of Pokémon GO you might as well walk all the way to Löyly  which Anna wrote about some time ago or to Hernesaaren Ranta – which unfortunately aren’t the best spots for Pokémon GO yet but otherwise worthwhile a visit.

Other good Pokémon GO stops in Helsinki

I also found a list of other good Pokémon GO stops (unfortunately in Finnish) from which you can find new Pokémons. We have actually written about earlier in this blog, so these are excellent places not only for Pokémon hunting but for other activities, too.

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

 

 

 

 

Best Tapas and Wine in Helsinki

Few weeks ago I visited lovely restaurant called Soil Wine Room. The place is very much in wines – they import  those and they are specialized on small European labels. During evening our waiter told many facts of different wines but he was also very pleased when we just ordered some tasty (from cheaper end) white wine and later continued with the same. I liked that – when place is very much in wines sometimes it is difficult for waiter to understand that everyone is not in every moment wanting to have the best wines – sometimes good is enough. What you drink is of course part of your evening but sometimes only one part.   

So, great selection of wines – but also great selection of tapas! My personal favourites were tartar which was very tasty with egg and garlic mayonnaise and manchego tasting with 6, 12 and 18 month “old” manchegos (actually I don’t which word to use for old, but I guess you understand what I mean…)  tomato marmalade, olives and bread. There are several meat, fish and vegetarian tapas so plenty to choose from. Best way is just to order plenty of different ones and share those with everyone in table.

Evening in Soil Helsinki

The place is pretty tiny – maybe 30 people can fit so if you want to eat here it is important to book a table in advance. However, I have visited there now two times in a short time (since I really like the place and I happen to live very near) and have always been able to get a table even without reservation. Place is somehow very cute – so if you want it all – great surrounding (but not too fancy), tasty wine and great tapas, this is a place for you! Address of this place in Fredrikinkatu 37 so it is in Punavuori area. It is open until 11 pm so you can have late dinners there as well (not all places in Helsinki have this late dining hours). No lunches and not planned for small kids. Net pages seems to be only Finnish but waiters speak English so no language problems for anyone. 

Anna

 

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

Christmas in Helsinki, Part I

Johanneksen Kirkko

Most Finns are Lutheran by religion. However, hardly anybody goes to church on Sundays or in fact in any other day. But there is an exception for this and the name of exception is Christmas – On 24th and 25th of December all the churches are full. Also, before Christmas it is popular to visit churches and enjoy Christmas music. You can listen when others sing or play and you can also sing Christmas carols together, the latter we Finns call “Kauneimmat joululaulut”.

Music in Johannes Church

On Monday evening me and Marjo wanted to enjoy Christmas spirit and headed to Johanneksen Kirkko (Johannes Church in English) since there was a Christmas concert. Since we wanted to chat as well, we first paid visit to this lovely bar called Latva just next to church. I recommend the combination – first some glögi (that is a Finnish Christmas drink), and after that something for your soul (music, words of God or at least charming surroundings) in Johanneksen Kirkko.

 

Want to experience yourself?

The address of this remarkable church is Korkeavuorenkatu 12, it is about one kilometre from main Railway station. From downtown you can walk or take tram 10. To ensure best experience, visit bar Latva as well. It is next to church and the address is Korkeavuorenkatu 25 (they are really close even numbers a bit far away!). There will some concerts in Johanneksen Kirkko before Christmas – 11.12. and 15.12. at 7 pm. Kauneimmat Joululaulut will be there on Sunday 13.12 6 pm.

Anna

After work in Helsinki part I

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after work in Helsinki

Tuesday I had planned to have dinner with friends after work. However I had to be in Copenhagen for work that day so I didn’t make it for dinner. I still wanted to see my friends – so we had drinks after their dinner, right after my plane landed. We decided to visit Bar Llamas which I’ll describe as cosy bar with South-American twist. Since we wanted to share with each other what’s going on, we wanted a place where one can easily talk. For that Bar Llamas works perfectly – music is not too loud.

swing

Llamas is very nice for afterworks as well as for weekend drinks. One can also order a nacho plate (haven’t tasted that but good to remember this place is for drinking not for culinary experiences). There are also couple of swings but since the bar is tiny, they are more for sitting. If you are trying to find a place for drinks after fine dining this is probably not a best place for you. However I felt okay with my business clothes – even though they fit perfectly neither atmosphere nor the surroundings – generally people are dressed more relaxed way. I’d say most of the people are 35years +/- ten years. At weekends it can be pretty crowded. During the week you will probably find a chair and a table for you and your company. Bottle of sparkling wine was 22 euros which is very reasonable price in Finland. I have understood they also have some interesting drinks, some even with a Finnish twist but I am not a great cocktail drinker – to hear more about those you have to wait a post from somebody else than me…

Bar Llamas

The address for Bar Llamas is Iso Roobertinkatu 14. It is situated in the heart of Punavuori which is very trendy district in Helsinki – lots of restaurants, lovely stores and bars and as Marjo just wrote, lots of people working in advertising agencies. This is an area we’ll be writing a lot in the future.

 Anna

New bar and bistro in Punavuori

The Old Skiffer

The Old Skiffer in Viiskulma

There’s a new bar in Punavuori in the corner of Pursimiehenkatu and Laivurinkatu. Or I’m not sure if you can call it new. According to Primula’s history  there’s been a bar at the same corner in Viiskulma from 1960’s and a café even longer from 1924. What’s new are the new owners who bought the legendary Restaurant Primula last summer and reopened it a couple of weeks ago under the name Uusi Primula (New Primula) and the Old Skiffer. The bar’s name is kind of a word game: the bar used to be called The Old Skipper’s and Skiffer also refers to the island Liuskasaari (Skifferholmen in Swedish) where the first Skiffer Restaurant was opened some years ago.

Uusi Primula bistro

New beginning at Primula

But that’s enough about the history! To celebrate the new beginning, Primula / The Old Skiffer had their official opening yesterday evening. The restaurant is pretty easygoing with stylishly laid-back atmosphere and contemporary bistro food. The interior design has maritime elements such as an old rowing boat in the ceiling and life jackets on the wall – not too much but just enough to make the bar interesting and more unique and different from the old bar and restaurant.

The Old Skiffer bar

Old life jackets on the wall

The bar was crowded yesterday evening so I just had quick drinks before heading home. I still need to try out the food and pizzas or liuska flatbread some other day.

I think the bar will attract creative crowd (since it’s situated close to many advertising agencies), trendy Punavuori clientele as well as the locals who have been coming there for years no matter who the owner is. Great local and a good addition to Viiskulma bars and restaurants!

Uusi Primula

Uusi Primula