The Most Romantic Bar in Helsinki: BasBas

IMG_4050Do you hope for candle light, lovely old brick walls and delicious food combined with trendy Helsinkian? Go to Bar BasBas & Stuff  – you have it all there! Last time I visited the place I saw some Finnish top politicians, Finnish celebrity chef and local movie star there as well as non-celebrity normal Helsinkians. Nearby there is also great restaurant called Baskeri & Basso which Anne has written before – however, this time I write about the bar.

At Bar BasBas you can of course enjoy variety of drinks (there is wide selection of wines available) but also eat, not total dinner but small plates. I promise if you order many of those, it is enough for dinner. Food is super delicious and interesting – many seasonal delicacies. My favourite plate is Avocado-fenkoli bruchetta, shown down left in pictures below. I realize that is not seasonal at all… There is also a picture of lamb tartar – that is also must try if in the menu!

 

 

Even I said this is the most romantic bar, it is also suitable for friends and groups of people. You can’t make reservation, just pop by. Popping by possibility is exactly the reason I am going to visit the place tomorrow – friend is coming to Helsinki and I want to have dinner with her. We haven’t booked a table since we believe we’ll find table in BasBas.

BasBas is situated in  the back corner of Punavuori, exact address is Tehtaankatu 27-29. It is maybe 1.5 kilometre walk from Railway Station – trams go nearby so check www.hsl.fi and find out easiest way to get there!

Anna

 

 

Day trip from Helsinki to Porvoo – strong recommendation

Strong recommendation for day trip from Helsinki to Porvoo, a second oldest city in Finland. Porvoo has beautiful old town with narrow streets and picturesque wooden houses. Just perfect place to stroll around and enjoy feeling of old times. Many small shops around offering handicrafts, antiquities, cloths and toys. Also many pretty and tasty coffees shops, restaurants and bars. There is also a church to visit – old cathedral build in 15th century. Town is so lovely, I got marred there years ago and  I always have this really special feeling when visiting!

A week ago I once again visited this lovely town. This time we had lunch in Fryysarinranta – lovely restaurant by the river. We enjoyed fresh summer buffet with different kind of fish and salads. I strongly recommend to taste their fish soup. In Fryysarinranta you can sit on a terrace by the river or inside in old wooden house (middle picture above from there). I also visited Cafe Paahtimo – I had glass of wine in their lovely terrace by the river.

I also recommend you to try Restaurant Meat District – newish restaurant in old lovely building in center of old town. There are many lovely places around and easily found when walking around old town.

 

How to get to Porvoo? Well, Porvoo is situated 50 kilometers from Helsinki and it is easily reachable by car, bus or even bike or boat. Buses to Porvoo leave in Helsinki from Kamppi terminal and it takes around one hour. Check bus schedule here. If you want to bike, it is good to know that there is biking path for most of the way. However, maybe 15-20 kilometers there is no special biking path but that part is easy and safe to bike as well. Finest way to travel is to take boat Runeberg. Boat takes 3.5 hours and you can enjoy Finnish archipelago while traveling. Finest day you’ll have if you take boat in the morning, then stay in Porvoo as long as you please and in the evening take bus back to Helsinki. Porvoo is a small town so no need to stay over for longer time – day is enough.

Anna

ps. There is maybe cutest toy store ever in Porvoo. It is called Riimikko (sign in below picture). Very strong recommendation! You can find Muumi postcards there as well as shown picture below.

Russian Restaurant in Helsinki: Bystro

 

There are many great Russian restaurants in Helsinki. I truly recommend to visit at least some of them while here if you are not paying visit to Saint Petersburg right before or after Helsinki. Maybe my favourite Russian is very traditional, pretty price and authentic Saslik at Neitsytpolku 12. However, this time I write about my first visit to lovely Russian restaurant called Bystro which is situated near Kauppatori in the heart of Helsinki. Food is great, prices are reasonable (Saslik is pretty expensive) and atmosphere casual.  Address for Bystro is Eteläranta 16.

 

I was spending night with my friends, so we started with sparkling wine. Some of us took pickled cucumber and honey as a first course, some ready chosen “starter plate” with different Russian specialities. Both were delicious! I absolutely wanted to have blinis as my main course. In Bystro you get certain amount of roe, sour cream (smetana) and onion and with those you can eat as many blinis as you want. Blinis are totally “fresh” and so tasteful. I think blinis are absolute must have for everyone visiting Bystro. You can always have them as a beginning, if you have something else in mind as main course. Since it was Easter time, I chose pasha for dessert. It was modern and tasty (right picture below).

 

Bystro is not very fancy – you can basically wear whatever you want. You can have black lovely dress but as well jeans and nice shirt – customer are locals as well as tourists and from all ages. I recommend to make reservation in advance – restaurant is often fully booked.

When you step out from Bystro you see right away very lovey scenery shown below. If you want to continue having Russian night, I recommend Bar Mockba in Eerikinkatu.

Anna

 

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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Best Christmas Lunch in Helsinki – Restaurant Sipuli

restaurant-sipuli-christmas-uspenski-cathedral

If you visit Helsinki during December, you should taste some Finnish Christmas specialities. This is also very local thing to do – I have already had two Christmas lunches and I’ll have at least one more before Christmas. This time I’ll tell you of my Christmas lunch in this special restaurant “Ravintola Sipuli”. Restaurant is situated between President Castle and Uspenski Cathedral (Russian Orthodox church here in Helsinki), the address is Kanavaranta 7. Building is brick-walled warehouse and absolute speciality is the glass ceiling since you can see Uspenski Cathedral throughout. It is great view as you can see from picture below.

uspenski-cathedral-sipuli

And what about Finnish Christmas food specialities – in Sipuli there is buffet with many different fish – herring, salmon, fish roe as well as meat and many desserts (some of the latter ones not so traditionally Finnish like macarones) as well as selection of cheese. Place is hugely popular during Christmas time so you should book in advance. However, you can also just pop by and ask for a table. If there is only small company, waitress probably finds you a table. This Ravintola Sipuli is also great place to visit other times than December – it is very good restaurant – not cheap but as said, the view is exceptional and food is very tasty. I think Christmas buffet was 59 euros.

Hopefully I have time tomorrow to write few words about Tuomaan Markkinat, which Anne already mentioned in her writing about Christmas Bazaars here in Helsinki. I visited Tuomaan Markkinat today and it is really worth visiting!

Anna

 

 

Try these mulled wine places in Helsinki

When winter arrives in Helsinki, it’s time to spend some time in candle light enjoying mulled wind, or as we call it glögi, with your friends and family. The tradition of drinking this warm, alcholic drink comes from 1800s and is nowadays mainly enjoyed around Christmas time.

From November onwards you can find several bars and restaurants in helsinki that serve glögi in its various formats: alcoholic, non-alcoholic, with red or white wine or even with a dash of vodka or brandy. The spices makes it special and most often you’ll find cinnamon, ginger, cloves, bitter orange peel or star anis in it.

Glögi is served with almonds and raisins and you can choose to add or leave them out depending on your preference.

Try some of the following places around Espa for warm glögi and cozy winter atmosphere.

Kappeli
Eteläesplanadi 1

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Strindberg
Pohjoisesplanadi 33

strindberg_helsinki

Salutorget Bar
Pohjoisesplanadi 15
(picture borrowed from Salutorget’s website)
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Read next:
Christmas markets – Tuomaan markkinat. This year 3.-22.12.2016
Christmas pastries – see the video on how to make traditional Christmas stars

Lonna – Beautiful Island and Delicious Food

 

Want to see Finnish archipelago and enjoy delicious food but can’t travel far from Helsinki? I have a best spot for you: Island called “Lonna” and restaurant there! Island is very tiny – easy to wonder around in few minutes – no cars or even bikes there. It is a perfect place to enjoy Helsinki skyline and archipelago before dinner. Restaurant is very popular so you have to book in advance. Food is very Finnish and delicious – fish, root vegetables and berries. There is also café in the island – there you can just stop by. Lonna is very popular with locals – not (yet) so much found among tourists. The island and restaurant have web-pages only in Fínnish but this page you can make reservation in English. Island is open only during summer time, however there are still few weeks left – it will be closed 17.9.2016 (and it will open again in May).

 

You can take ferry to this tiny Island from Kauppatori Market Place (ask somebody where is Kolera-allas in Kauppatori since ferry leaves there). It takes only 10 minutes by ferry so it is really close to downtown. However, when you enter to island you feel like you are far away from city – in the middle of countryside. I think this is one of many reasons we locals LOVE this place – so peaceful and “faraway” even so close.

Lonna is also one of the best places to enjoy sunset, sea and Helsinki skyline – admire these pictures,

Anna

 

 

Weekend getaway to Tallinn

 

 

Even though our summer holidays are already over we felt like continuing our vacation a bit longer and decided to travel across Gulf of Finland to Tallinn, Estonia. The journey only takes about  1,5 – 3 hours, depending on which ferry you decide to go with. Linda Line is probably the fastest one (only 1h 40 min) but also at least Eckerö Line and Tallink Silja takes you there in 2-3 hours.

This time we decided to go with Tallink Silja, since the ferry leaves quite close to where we live and 2 hours of travel sounded better than 3. The tickets for two people were only 48 € (24 € per person!) – an absolute bargain and cheaper than travelling to Tampere! Prices might vary from day to day though, depending on the time and month. Also you might consider staying there for a night, too. Hotels and spas are quite modern and well situated in the center of Tallinn and reasonably priced as well.

I’ve visited Tallinn quite often so this time we didn’t really have an agenda for the day, we just spent the day walking in Old Town and light shopping which is a good way to spend an afternoon. If you have the time you might want to visit Tallinna Teletorn, Tallinn’s TV tower or Balloon Tallinn to get a god view over the city and maybe on a good weather all the way to Helsinki.

 

The Old Town is filled with small cafés and restaurants and some of them are quite touristic. However, some of the best restaurants in Tallinn in my opinion are situated in Old Town, so dig in a bit further from the Old Town’s Town Hall square and you’ll find some excellent choices. This time we decided to have an early dinner at Leib Resto ja Aed which serves seasonal and fresh Estonian food including local mushrooms, berries, fish, meat and vegetables. Atmosphere was quite easy-going but still stylish and service was very quick and professional. A dinner for two with aperitifs, 3 course meal, bottle of wine and beer, coffee and avec was about 160 € which I think is very affordable if compared to Helsinki’s prices.

 

A very nice weekend getaway even on a rainy day!

-Marjo

Teurastamo – Piece of Berlin in Helsinki

 

Anne wrote recently about hippiest café in Helsinki. It is situated in Kallio which really is the hippiest district in Helsinki. Now I’ll continue writing of almost same part of Helsinki – this time I’ll tell you where you can find “piece of Berlin”. Naturally it is found near Kallio, in Vallila district. This “Piece of Berlin” is area called Teurastamo and you can find several resaurants and bars there as well as hammock where enjoy lazy  summer.

Teurastamo means abattoir in Finnish and the buildings in the area were built for abattoir purpose in 1933. Abattoir is history now and some years ago it was opened for public being a place for city culture. The place has rough feeling – you can feel and see it has been an industrial area.Quite often (at least every Friday) you can enjoy music played by dj. When hungry you can grill buy your own or buy food from restaurants. Since there was interesting looking pizza oven outside we wanted to taste outcome of that. And I have to admit – pizza eaten on Teurastamo terrace was best pizza I have eaten for a long time! There are also many bars in area so you may spend the whole evening there as well.

Recommend to everyone visit the place – perfect style is to bike but if you don’t have a bike you may also come by metro. Then step out in Kalasatama station and walk 200 meters – ask somebody Teurastamo and they will tell you the right directio. The address of this great place  is Työpajankatu 2.

Anna

 

 

 

Best Sauna in Helsinki – Public Saunas Part I

 

 

Sauna is a Finnish tradition – a hot room with stove. For stove you throw water and the room gets even hotter. Finnish word Löyly means the steam and heat which comes from stove when you throw water. Almost all Finnish houses have sauna – Finns like to visit sauna at least once a week – some people visit sauna almost daily. It is quite usual that apartments have shared sauna and one can book weekly time for visiting sauna. Also many apartments have tiny sauna by their own.

 

In history there were many public saunas in Helsinki since not so many apartments had bathrooms and definitely no saunas in apartments. For decades number of public saunas decreased (since people got saunas by their own) but laterly there has been new bloom of public saunas. I guess people like sense of community nowadays. For that need latest bloomer in public sauna field is Sauna called Löyly. It was just opened few weeks ago and it is situated next to see in Southern Helsinki.

Löyly is both, public sauna and restaurant. When you want to visit Löyly’s sauna, you have to have swimming suit with you. Otherwise you don’t need anything special – towels are included for the entrance fee (19 euros). Some instructions for first time visitors: first you pay entrance fee, then you go to changing room (there are also lockers where you can leave your stuff). There are separate changing rooms for women and men. After changing for swimming suit you go to shower and then you can choose which of two saunas you want to visit first: there is both “basic” sauna and smoke sauna. After being in sauna for few minutes, you probably want to visit terrace, pop in sea (there is possibility to swim but the sea is very cold so you don’t want to do that for a long time) or  buy something to drink. There is also a room with fire place for taking brakes. All that is possible before visiting saunas again. When I visited sauna some days ago, the day was pretty cold. However, that didn’t stop me visiting the sea several times! There were also some tourists passing by and taking pictures of us “crazy Finns” swimming even such a cold day. Entrance fee for sauna enables you to use sauna facilities for 2 hours.

To see this fascinting building and excellent views from terrace you don’t have to visit saunas – if you prefer, you can visit only the restaurant or terrace (no entrance fee then). Restaurant is not fancy in any means but anyway really nice. I tasted burger and it was tasty. Terrace is big and has truly excellent views as mentioned earlier. I can warmly recommend the place for everyone – you can experience Finnish tradition in downtown Helsinki! If you want to be asolutely sure to have sauna experience, I recommend you to make booking in advance. And how do you find the place? The address is Hernesaarenranta 4. It is situated in southern Helsinki – I guess around 2 kilometres from Railway station. You can take bus number 14 if you don’t want to walk there.

Great sauna-moments for all of you. You surely understand I couldn’t take pictures in sauna, so that you have to see by your own.

Anna