Most non-Nordics smile with misbelief when I try to explain to them that summers in Finland are the best summers one can possibly experience in a lifetime. When I say that it is really hot in July (well at least usually…) I receive questions like “how hot really?”, “hot for real, or hot for your standards?”.
I guess I can’t blame the others because just like the most part of Northern Europe, Finland can be struck by bad summers and temperatures may not reach even +20C. But when Finland is blessed with a hot summer, like it was this year, there’s not anywhere else I’d rather be enjoying summer days than in Finland.
During my recent visit to see my parents in the West coast of Finland, I spent two days visiting Helsinki.
In Helsinki, we took a boat to Suomenlinna (‘A Castel of Finland’), a maritime fortress built to defend Finland during the Swedish era in the 18th century. It is now a UNESCO world heritage site but also a living district of Helsinki. Inhabitants of the seven islands, which make up Suomenlinna, tourists and residents of Helsinki, who come over to spend a hot summer day, create an interesting mix.
In Suomenlinna we chilled out on the coast and walked around the military structures and shipyards breathing sea air. Looking far to the horizon makes me always feel very much at home.
We stayed in a beautiful hotel, Fabian, in the city centre. The room called ‘Lux’ was equipped with stylish décor, a kitchen and a very comfortable bed. The hotel served in the morning a wonderful breakfast buffet with seating in a cute courtyard terrace. We could have also borrowed bikes for the day.
In the evening we had dinner at Bronda which is a cool new restaurant on South Esplanad. We enjoyed the tapas menu, lively atmosphere and Nordic decoration. Restaurants are notoriously expensive in Finland, even if you are used to London prices. That’s why, I think it’s worth eating out in one of the nicer ones.
The next day we did one of my favourite walks in Helsinki. It is a tour that starts from Tähtitorninmäki (home to Helsinki Obervatory), goes through Kaivopuisto Park, loops through the seaside promenade past a harbour for the big cruise ships departing to Stockholm and finishes in Kauppatori (Marketplace). In the marketplace you can buy the most delicious fresh strawberries and cherries or visit the old market hall to sample typical Finnish products.
Now back in London, I long for the days in Helsinki: being spoilt by the gentle sun and fresh sea breeze, buying a jäätelötötterö (an ice cream cone) and occupying your mind with positive thoughts. That is simplicity at its best and Finnish summer at its best.
How about you? What does summer signify to you? I’d love to find out!
Fabianinkatu 7, 00130 Helsinki, Finland
Tel: +358 9 6128 2000
Eteläesplanadi 20, 00130 Helsinki
Tel: +358 10 322 9388
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