Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Helsinki

Mr B and I have just returned from a lovely break to Helsinki. It was cold. Freezing cold. But it was lovely. The city is compact and beautiful and has, to me, more the feeling of a Southern European city than one of the most Northern capital cities in the world.

Although it was cold, it didn't bother me as much as the cold damp in the UK; the Finns really know how to make the most of existing in such a cold climate. So there's snow everywhere? Everyone wears snow boots - even those attending posh, society weddings at Helsinki cathedral (no kidding, we saw a whole family in finery and snow boots!) The streets are slippery, so the Finns don their cross country skis and ski poles and adapt. The transport doesn't grind to a halt and even the fact that it's dark for so much of the day doesn't darken the mood of the people in the city: there are twinkly fairy lights everywhere, and unlike the English who like to cocoon themselves in tiny, dark rooms as a way of keeping warm, the Finns epitomise Ikea living - wide open, light spaces, filled with as much light (natural and artificial) as possible. Instead of feeling constrained by the cold and depressed by the dark, I felt uplifted by the lightness and like I wanted to go outside and make the most of the crisp and beautiful snow.
The view from our hotel room over the frozen sea!

The strangest thing was that from our lovely, bright, light and open hotel room, the panoramic window looked out over one of the many coastal inlets of the Baltic sea. But this was like no sea I have ever seen before. It was entirely frozen over. Not just fragments of ice floating on the waves, but TOTALLY frozen over. So frozen over that it was difficult to see where the sea ended and the land began. So frozen over that we were able to walk on it and not fall in. So frozen over that there was at least a foot of snow compacted on top of the ice. People were cross country skiing and ski-sailing across it. It was breath taking! And so beautiful. And oh so strange.
That's Mr. B 'on the beach' - really!

One day I'd love to go back to Finland. I loved the humour of the people, the family-friendliness of the city and its surroundings, but most of all how the people seemed to embrace the great outdoors with gusto!

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    I loved your comments about Helsinki! I'm originally from Finland and your text really made me miss back home. Finland is a lovely tiny place in the world. And here is my tip: next time when you are going to Finland you could try Lapland ;)

    By the way I'm also doing ballet and I just love your blog. Keep going! :)

    - Sofia

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