We Heart Helsinki!

June 19th, 2009


A market square, where you can buy a yummy bag of cherries, reindeer pelts, souvenirs and get attacked by aggressive seagulls. But first…


Ahhh the Swedish archipelago is just like Canadian cottage country.

We took yet another cruise ship from Stockholm to Helsinki. The Silja line ended up being the Old Navy to the DFDS cruise line’s Banana Republic. We went from fine dining and middle aged folk dancing to a live band to a virtual children’s paradise, filled with Moomin characters and roving bands of teenagers.


I resorted to taking creepy photos. The above photo says it all.


We recommend that you spend a little bit of extra money to ensure that you don’t end up sleeping beneath the two car decks, amongst the drunken hordes who pay a visit to the duty free store to stock up on alcohol, then party the night away with the door open right across the hall from you. Also, if you have a window, it lessens the feeling that you are going to be locked in should the boat sink a la Titanic. It crossed our minds.

We arrive bright and early the next morning, after losing yet another hour of our lives to a time change. Since we’ve become pack mules, we splurged on a cab to the hotel. Ahh, Euros. Our dollar does not stand up to your mighty strengh, but at least we have a sense of how much money we are spending versus the abstract concept that is the kroner.

I picked a hotel through Hostel World, which I recommend people check first before going directly to hotel websites. Lucky for us, Hotel Anna turned out to be a great pick. Smack dab in the middle of the Design District, we quickly learned that the Finnish take design as seriously as we had hoped–25 streets and 170 members.

We also got to thrifting asap.


This open air market happens everyday.


No major finds though.

More thrifting after the jump!


Then we found a sort of Goodwill thrift shop – the Kierrätyskeskus.


At 15 e and the most terrible colour ever, this Copco tea kettle just wasn’t worth it.


Some cool random photos we may go back for, though they are 5 e each. This one is of 3 children in front of an apartment block.


This cool one of a trapper caught our eye. But it was sitting next to two photos of what look like Canadian Mounties, so we are uncertain whether this is Finnish or Canadian.


This shop made us livid. The prices were high, and with the conversion, absurd.


We assumed that Arabia and Iittala would be laying about in hordes for cheap, and we were so wrong. These tiny planters were going for 60 e!!!!!! We bought the next size up for way less at Twice Found and even then we were balking.


We want one!


One cool thing is all the Aalto furniture. Seeing it in person, I can appreciate it so much more (and just you wait until the next post).


Helsinki Second Hand turned out to be a mecca of design, offered at reasonable (market value) prices.


Very cool industrial chairs (these were expensive though – I think 150e or more).








We also popped into the Artek store.


So many stools in one spot!


John’s favourite.


Artek 2nd Cycle. “The 2nd Cycle collection was introduced in the spring of 2007 during the Milan International Furniture Fair, as a statement of conscious consumption. A coded RFID tag embedded in the 2nd Cycle stool records the furniture’s history, stories, as well as information about its origins and authenticity.”


A dime a dozen Aalto stools. Love it.

Filed under: Travel | 5 comments

5 Responses to 'We Heart Helsinki!'

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  1. ohh, i have been to Helsinki, its nice, try the Raw salmon at the open market.. (with sea salt on it!) and Artek is pretty nice.. and crazy….. i did not find that second hand store, now i am all sad about it!!!
    there is also a great flea market, where i bought some Arabia stuff for good prices, i am sure you will visit it!
    there is nothing like EUROPE!
    I am in Berlin , helping my freind set up her new apartment.. its hard to thrift here.. but i still have hope!, i don’t have your luck!


    19 Jun 09 at 12:08 pm

  2. PS
    Aalto is amazing, i went to his home town, where he built the University, and half the city, and EVERYTHING is furnished with his chairs…
    its much much nicer in person, and it made me love blond wood!


    19 Jun 09 at 12:09 pm

  3. We wanted to go on a little road trip up north and to Aalto’s home town but I don’t know how to drive standard and time and blah blah…but we are definitely going to have to come back sometime. Lapland in winter? Yes, please.


    20 Jun 09 at 3:19 am

  4. I’m so enjoying your Scandinavian/Nordic posts. It’s so interesting to read your view on things. I’ve never been to Helsinki, but would love to go, so all your info is useful. Sounds expensive though… (even for a Norwegian :-)


    19 Jun 09 at 2:38 pm

  5. yeah!
    that is what i did, Lapland, we spent a whole month in Finland and Lapland! and yeah, i did see the northern lights!


    20 Jun 09 at 5:58 am

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