Helsinki dear,
Last time we met, it was February and the freezing rain was practically horizontal. Brr…

Today, things are looking better. Summer seems to be over, it’s a chill in the air – and windy. But the sun has poked through the clouds more than once. That’s not bad for September. Not bad at all.

I’m on my way to a conference in Tallinn, and impulsively decided to stop en route here in Helsinki to have a look at the sea fortress at Suomenlinna. You may have noticed Sophie’s World has put World Heritage sites in focus lately. Well, going through our UNESCO index, I discovered there was nothing in Finland. Nothing at all. Considering we’re northern neighbours, that simply will not do.

So I’ve been roaming about the islands at Suomenlinna today and will tell you all about it in due course. But for now, here’s a glimpse of Helsinki – practically in real-time. Enjoy!

Helsinki by Instagram

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Perfectly perched pigeons in Helsinki

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Along Pohjoisesplanadi (that means Northern Esplanade, just in case you don’t understand the bewilderingly complex Finnish compound words…haha, as if I do…), I noticed these two pretty girls, each with a bird in her hand – and each with a live bird on her head. Esplanadin puisto, the park between the northern and southern esplanades, is the heart of Helsinki and a lovely place to stroll.

Helsinki by Instagram

Continuing along the Northern Esplanade, I stopped outside Marimekko to look at the new autumn colours. OK, so I didn’t just stop outside. I went in and fondled the materials. But I was good, didn’t buy a single thing, realising there’s a limit to how many towels I need.

Next to Marimekko is Strindberg Café, empty on account of chairs still wet from the morning rain. But no worries. It’s perfect indoors. Despite being named after a rather gloomy Swedish author (or perhaps there’s another Strindberg), this is my favourite cafe in Helsinki. What I adore most are the large windows looking out on the Esplanade.

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The fabulous facade of Helsinki's Hotel Kamp

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Helsinki has some amazing architecture. I especially love Carl Theodor Höijer’s neo-Renaissance buildings. Here’s the fabulous facade of Hotel Kämp.

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The Gerda in Helsinki harbour

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Heading across Kauppatori (Market Square, another compounded Finnish word for you) to the harbour, I noticed this gorgeous square-rigger, Priki Gerda. It’s possible to cruise – or join the crew, climb in the rig, pack the sails, n’all. Something to think about, eh?

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The UNESCO-listed Suomenlinna Fortress

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The islands that make up Suomenlinna is a mere 15-minute crossing by ferry or water bus from Helsinki harbour. The fortress was built by Augustin Ehrensvärd, and this sculpture is his memorial. I don’t know about you, but I find it a bit sinister. We’ll get back to Suomenlinna in a later post…

…except to say, that the islands are home to 800 people, many of whom are artists, whose bright and colourful work is for sale at the craft shop. Design everywhere in Helsinki, on Suomenlinna…

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Glass art by Iittala

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… and, of course, in town. Here’s the back wall at Iittala glass shop.

So there you have it, a glimpse of Helsinki as it looks today.

Disclosure: I organised my ever so brief visit in Helsinki in cooperation with VisitFinland, who very kindly set me up with accommodations and transport at very short notice. As ever, I’m at complete liberty to write about whatever I want.