Wednesday, 17 April 2013

A Trip to Helsinki!

Hello All....long time no blog, I know! I have been very busy with work, and renovating our house (our lounge is now finished, hooray! - so I will be doing a post on that soon....) in the meantime, I'm going to tell you about my recent trip to Helsinki.
Last month was my birthday, and so with it falling on a weekend, Michael and I thought we would go away for a few days. After watching the Tove Jansson documentary (creator of The Moomins) over Christmas last year we were both really keen to visit Helsinki, and after some internet research and a good deal to be found on Expedia, we booked our weekend away!
By the way...this is a long and picture heavy post! :)

 DAY ONE - My Birthday!
It was blimmin' cold in Helsinki!! Day temps were around 0/-2 degrees C, night temps around -13!!
Here I am stood near the harbour. Most of this part of the sea was frozen!
As you can see here! 
We had a walk into the centre, passing the rather impressive railway station building, which dates from 1909.
There are a lot of really grand buildings in Helsinki, and interestingly, and although this one isn't , a lot of them are Russian built or inspired (they rebuilt much of it after the war).
This outdoor ice skating rink was in the town square, just across from the railway station building. I was tempted....but I'm wary to skate as my sister broke her arm doing so a few years ago, and with my job being a self employed designer...I just cant risk that!!
We then headed down to visit the flea market - Kaivarin Kanuuna, in the South of the city and this took us past a park which was frozen solid, and had people cross country ski-ing on it!
The flea market is in a cellar of sorts with lots of booths in the underground is Michael looking at some of the treasures/junk!
Finland, as with most of Scandinavia is expensive.....even in the flea markets and vintage stores! I still managed to snag a few good deals however!
Vintage red wool skirt with navy piping, €3 (about £2.50)
Vintage cotton dress, €4 (about £3.50). 
I added the white and red Rik Rak myself when we got home as it just needed a little something extra :)
70s pin badges from the USSR - €9 (about £8.50) for 48 of them. 
The artwork on these is so cool! Think we are going to frame some, I will keep some to wear, and we will sell some too.
We then headed to some more 2nd hand/thrift stores - this chain is called FIDA and there are quite a few of them around the city.
Inside one of the shops 
Although we had a good rummage, we didn't find anything we wanted. We also travelled light with hand luggage only, so bulky items were out!
We then headed back to our hotel. We stayed at Hotel Katajanokka which is a converted former prison, which was amazing!
All the original features are still there - but its now a 4* hotel, so thankfully the accommodation standards in the 'cells' is much nicer than it used to be!!
After a bit of a rest, and a cup of hot chocolate to warm us up, it was back out in the sub zero temperatures to go out for my Birthday to the Kokomo Tiki bar!

I had a Portobello mushroom and Halloumi 'burger' with a side of sweet potato fries. Yum.
Inside the Tiki Bar
Cheers! Yes I did go out for my birthday in my flamingo jumper and long johns under my jeans...well, you have too when its -13 outside! 

We got up and had a hearty breakfast to set us up for the day. It was then off an out as were meeting up with my blog friend Ina. Ina and I 'met' online a few years ago when we both started following each others blogs. You know when you just 'click' with someone? I always found her posts about vintage and Finland really interesting, (and hopefully she felt the same way about my posts too!), and so although Ina stopped blogging a year or so ago, we still keep in touch via Facebook. I asked Ina for some advice on where to go and what to see prior to our trip (I have her to thank for the 'FIDA' thrift shop locations, amongst other things!). Some of you may have followed Ina yourself, and will most definitely have heard of, or follow one of her close friends Ulrika, from The Freelancers Fashion Blog.
Me and Ina
We went for coffee and had a good few hours chatting about all sorts of things! It was lovely to meet Ina and  I would like to say a special thank you to her for meeting up, and giving us lots of tips and advise for our trip :). 
Ina now runs a fantastic vintage shop on Etsy called Years since Yesterday, which has a great collection of Finnish and Texan vintage. Click the link above to check out Ina's store!

After our meet up, Michael and I then headed off to Kiasma  - Helsinki's museum of modern art.
It was ok, but a whole floor of exhibition space was closed (out of only 3 floors!), so a bit disappointing.
And then, off to get my Moomin shopping fix at the Moomin Shop!
Big smile, and shopping bag of goodies!
We then got the tram up the the North of the city and went to the Arabia outlet and design centre.
Arabia make fantastic ceramic products, and of course this includes a Moomin range, of which I have quite a  few pieces. Michael bought me a bowl, glass and some Christmas decorations for my birthday present.
Then we headed back to the centre and had a look round all the cool shops in the design district
And saw these cool lights outside the Craft and Design Centre
We then headed back to our hotel for the day....all this walking about and sight seeing was tiring!

We were flying home later on in the afternoon, so after our last hearty breakfast at the prison hotel and checkout, we went to see the Sibelius monument, a dedication to Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.
Don't I look tiny next to it?!
And here is one of Michael and I - Michael grew a beard especially for our trip to keep his face warm!

Then we got a tram back to the city and waited for the bus back to the airport, not before having my picture taken with the two gargoyles that we had been admiring all weekend!!
Attractive! ha ha!
Going home is usually a chore, right? But not if they have another Moomin shop at the airport it isn't!
And this is pretty much my overall Moomin haul from the weekend! Bearing in mind that this is what I spent my birthday money on :)
Towels, bag, prints and postcards, crockery, figurines, socks and stationery!
And....last but not least.....this arrived in the post about a week after we got home;
I fell in love with these Moomin scissors, but couldn't bring them back on the plane, so I posted them to myself! Where there's a will there's a way! 
I hope you enjoyed my Helsinki post. We had an amazing time, and wouldn't hesitate to recommend anyone to visit, just wrap up warm if you go in winter!


  1. Wow just wow to your Moomin haul! Now I wonder if work would send me to Helsinki.......

  2. Happy belated birthday darling! What a killer way to celebrate! I have always wanted to go to Helsinki but I just don't know if I could ever get warm enough to enjoy myself. I love seeing the ice cube shops and a your meet up with Ina. I have never seen so much ice! I also have no idea what Moomin is so now I simple must find out.

  3. Cool! And you were not the only one in sweater and long johns at the bar I can tell you :)
    Good thing you figured out yourselves to go to the Arabia outlet - it never even crossed my mind to tell you about that one... Man, did you get some Moomin stuff, that's just awesome!

    It was great seeing you - let's stay in touch and get together again sometimes :)

  4. Happy Belated Birthday! I've always fancied a trip to Helsinki. xxx

  5. I have been dreaming of going too ever since that tove Jansson documentary (and before that, for that matter -I'm also Moomin obsessed!) Oh how wonderful! - I'm wildly jealous!!

  6. Looks amazing! I've always wanted to go to Finland and Scandinavia in general!

  7. Glad you liked Helsinki. I have finally managed to move back home to Finland from England (which I was bit sad to leave behind. 10 years there is a long time). You can come and visit bit further up in north of Finland next winter :)

  8. What a brilliant post! All the photos were amazing! I love the range of architecture from the classical to the modern! And how cool that there is a tiki bar in Finland?! I also adore your shopping finds! That red skirt is fabulous! Glad your trip and birthday were a smash!!