When I arrived in Helsinki last Thursday afternoon, this was the view from my window into the garden, and the frozen sea beyond. The following morning it snowed, but in the afternoon the sun came out and there were people skiing on the ice. During the week we even spotted two fishermen drilling a hole in the ice and perching on their little seats to wait for a catch. Rather them than me.
I preferred being in the city centre, walking on the slippery pavements or hopping onto the tram to keep warm for a while…
or dropping into the famous Ekberg Cafe on Bulevardi for a quick coffee and warm sandwich or an Alexander cake.
This was the view of the Helsinki Railway Station from the tram stop opposite. The building is being renovated at the moment, so the picture doesn’t really give credit to the wonderful design by Eliel Saarinen. The clock tower (here wrapped up on the right side of the picture) was unveiled the day I left Finland. It’s clean-up took much longer than anticipated and cost over 4.7 million Euros – three times the amount estimated. Apparently there was substantial damage to the tower. Damp had penetrated the over 3,600 blocks of granite and the builders had to remove, clean and replace each one. But luckily the renovation will be complete by 1st of May, in time for the traditional Vappu celebrations.
Animated versions of the two statues either side of the entrance, holding the spherical lamps, are currently used in a VR (Finnish National Railways) advert on TV. I was told they’re often being parodied, but Daughter had to point the connection in the TV advert out to me. Another moment when I felt a virtual foreigner in my own country.
I hope these pictures will convince the doubters that it really was quite snowy and icy in Helsinki even as late as middle of March. Honestly, I wasn’t lying.