In Turku, Scandinavian architecture and modern way of life prevails; but nestled between the city centre and the railway station, you will find Park Hotel Turku and a breeze of Central European atmosphere of olden times.
Like sirens, Turku archipelago ring road lures regular wanderers and habitual hedonists alike. So, without more ado, let us begin!
My first visit to Porvoo, a historic city some 40 minutes drive from Helsinki, proved to be a very successful trip: red wooden houses aligning a slowly gliding river, cafés and restaurants full of cheery looking customers, tourists groups posing and pointing with their cameras, pretty cobblestoned old town with a cosy feel. What else could a traveller ask for from a coastal Finnish city? Well, in the case of Porvoo, there were also amazing chocolate shops as a bonus.
Which was very convenient as a friend of mine, who likes chocolate and Porvoo, had a birthday coming up. For once, I was going to do well with my gift idea!
A light summer rain rattles against Hotel Pariisin Ville’s wine bar’s marquee. Some soft tunes of jazz mingle with the hollowness of Porvoo Cathedral’s bells from few blocks away: Morning is turning into noon, and the boutiques nearby have opened for business. Just another ordinary Thursday in Porvoo.
But I am keeping the everyday aspects of life at bay, enjoying the bourgeously hedonistic atmosphere in Hotel Pariisin Ville.
On a rainy Tuesday night, a peculiar atmosphere lingers in Helsinki: taxi drivers drowse in their cars in front of the Central Railway Station, guards keep a keen eye on the loitering youth and, leaning against the wind, a few lonely city dwellers hurry towards home. A gust of rain splashes against the asphalt occasionally.
I disturb a taxi driver’s nap with a slight tap on the window, jump into his car, and start whizzing towards Hotel Katajanokka.
Morning has kicked off in the trendy Helsinki district of Kallio but the coffee shop stays quiet even though eight of its dozen or so tables are occupied by eleven o’clock. Van Morrison’s soft voice floats somewhere at the background, and on the walls, Eric Dolphy and Gene Taylor have frozen in a black and white, pixelated pose. Occasionally cups clink against the saucers and the grinder and espresso machine whizzes and hisses.
Winter is building
its fortress, on the other
side, spring gathers its troops.
Finland has 187 888 lakes and almost as many islands, but I am here for one of its oldest valleys, Naantali, where I am going to hibernate this winter. Nowadays, Naantali is known for its connection with the Moomin Valley, but of old, the connection with valley was somewhat more graceful: here, in the Valley of Grace, the Brigittine Order was established in the late Middle Ages, and the story of Naantali began.
As the third thing to do in Finland, I present you COFFEE BREAKS.
In market halls, the sense of place is intensified: vegetables, bread, coffee beans, cakes and delicacies, smiles, stares, smell of spice, people strolling around, people separated by counters of fruits; buyers and sellers and loiterers all in one moment of time and space, all in the Market Hall. The time has stopped, this is how the country really is: all that has been built is built on this.