Discovering Helsinki…again! Part 1
Helsinki - a city to enjoy? No, Helsinki - a city to fall in love with! If I would have heard this before, I would have laughed myself to death. I've been visiting Helsinki for quite many years, and I don’t know why and how this happened, BUT this time I discovered I actually adore the city. Inspired from my last visit, I decided to write about this new love of mine. The story is divided into three parts: how the idea of enjoying Helsinki came to my mind, shopping and the city ambience. Of course, there is much more I can write, but I tried to make it short and focused. This will definitely not be the last time I write about the Finnish capital.
Part 1 –Introduction: the crazy idea of being a “tourist” in Helsinki
The day started with an ‘I hate you’ look in a co-worker’s eyes. And it didn’t seem to get better after ‘trying to save the situation’ with the questions: “What’s wrong, honey? Do you need anything before I leave?”
-I ‘hate’ you!
-You are going to Helsinki!
Wow! There is no way I could see that coming. I visit Helsinki often, and never once considered someone ‘hating’ me for simply going there. Who would even think of going there voluntarily? But the situation was getting even more intense: ‘I want to go, too! To ... shop!’
That last word completely knocked me off my feet. Shopping in Helsinki? This is something that never came to mind. I know people (including myself) go to Paris or Milan to shop, or even to Stockholm - but Helsinki? I was quite confused. But when she started surfing the home pages of different brands (H&M, Marimekko, Longchamp, Wolford, etc…) and pointing to items on the screen asking if I would bring these back for her, I couldn’t help but say yes. Making a promise to visit all these shops and buy all her requests seemed to have resolved the conflict.
My best friend drove me to the harbour, and all the way to the ship she was complaining that she’d really love to go with me and was quite jealous that I am going to such an amazing town. I was getting more and more baffled and was thinking ‘what’s wrong with all these people? Am I missing something?’ The more I thought, the more I realized that I must be the only one who goes to Helsinki for just my own business - visiting all the same places, eating in all the familiar restaurants and meeting with only a few special friends. Feeling at home there, I never even considered walking around and discovering something new. (By the way - why should I walk when I have the luxury of driving in a car? And so what that it takes 5 minutes to walk, instead of 10 by car? I love comfort!) So this time, I decided to be a tourist and experience everything. Said? Done!
On the ferry, I sat by the window. Sure I already knew that there were many little islands on the way, but honestly I had never really noticed. So with a little concentration, I started to ‘see’ them for the first time. And this time when the ship approached Helsinki, I was literally bumping my forehead against the window trying not to miss anything. And I didn’t! Wow - there is such an unlimited space for dreaming. So many romantic stories came to mind just watching those little and not so little pieces of land (like Suomenlinna, for example) jutting out from the sea.