Helsinki, the Daughter of the Baltic. La fille de la Baltique. La figlia del Baltico
Finland, a magic land in Northern Europe.
What struck me the most is the light: I was expecting it to be very dark all day, with almost no daylight as it is wintertime. On the contrary, I found out there is a very surreal light in the sky all day long, especially at night: after the sunset, which is around 5-5:30 P.M. in January, the sky becomes darker but there is always a reddish light that brightens up the night.
I can only imagine how beautiful it is to admire the aurora borealis up north and I’m planning a trip to Lapland shortly in order to see that magnetic marvel.
Helsinki, the capital and largest city of Finland, is not a big town: its population is a little over 625thousand people. It is amazing to see the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea all frozen during the winter. Cruise ships break the ice and leave anyways, mostly directed to Sweden and to the little island of Suomenlinna. Some people walk on the frozen sea, but it is quite dangerous because there might be some cracks in the ice and falling in that frozen water would definitely mean hypothermia.
Nicknamed “the daughter of the Baltic”, Helsinki is located on a peninsula and on 315 islands. The atmosphere is very relaxed and quiet during the Winter, with people jogging and biking in the snow. The latter doesn’t seem to be much of a problem for ships, cars, people, and even airplanes. My Finnish friend Aura told me that Finnair is the only company that is always leaving, no matter the weather conditions.
Food is great. Don’t miss the gravlax, salmon soup, and other salmon specialties as well as big blinis topped with fish roe. Chocolate is very good and I loved the chocolate kisses, filled with soft, light strawberry, mocha or vanilla cream. They don’t sell them at the airport in the departure area so, if you want to bring some home, you should buy them in the city.
Another think that I totally loved and I don’t know if I can find it anywhere in the world is the amazing blueberry juice served by Finnair.
The Uspenski Katedraali and Senatiintori (Senate Square), with its majestic neoclassical Tuomiokirkko (dome) are outstanding and worth a visit. Also, take a walk in the Harbor area, check out the open air fish market and the Market Hall and do some shopping or fine eating on the Esplanadi, the city’s Main Street.