Return to Helsinki

Along main shopping street Aleksanterinkatu

I’ve been to Finland’s capital twice before but only briefly. My interest to return to Helsinki has been percolating for several months & on this third visit I found a completely renewed interest in the city, its spaces, history & people.

We deboarded in Katajanokka, an atmospheric neighborhood in the southern part of the city, with attractive residential buildings as well as beautifully preserved & adaptively reused industrial ones. As I walked past Kauppatori, the central market square, up along the Esplanade on Pohjoisesplanadi, I had a spatial flashback to my first visit to Helsinki as a young girl. That trip had been with my farfar (father’s father) & my father, who would be running a marathon during our visit to the city.  As I pushed my son in his stroller, both of us alert & curious to this new day in a different place, the distinct memory of walking this exact path with my father & grandfather,  pausing to go into a bookshop or some other store with many paper goods, came crisply into a my mind- a  sense of deja vu mingled with a very present state of being, acknowledging two points of time in a current & familiar, yet still foreign space.

On this trip, Helsinki felt cerebral & active to me, but unrushed, even for a Monday. It struck me as a capital city lacking in pretension & rich with fascinating history, linguistic flexibility & a quiet internationalism.. By noon, 4 people had held doors open for me & my son in his stroller (sometimes actually noticing from the sidewalk that I was struggling with holding the door open & rushing up to help). This sort of public etiquette is always a good sign to me, a sort of litmus test of humanity at a very pedestrian level in a place.

Finland gained independence in 1917 & since we moved to Sweden this year, I had been noticing the many & varied activities of the 100 year celebration in various digital publications. I’m happy I was able to step foot in Finland during this momentous year.

Just a little reflection & recap of the few but enjoyable hours we had this past Monday in Finland’s capital. I look forward to returning to you Helsinki.

Atmospheric Katajanokka neighborhood

Along main shopping passage Aleksanterinkatu

Sandwich at Kippo

View more here

Helsinki Central Train Station

Heading back to Katajanokka in the late grey afternoon to board the boat

 

1 Comment

Comments are closed.