Hi All!

Hoping you are all doing well. It has been a while since I have written something on the blog, but it has been a very hectic period lately. I went straight from my Paris press trip to the Helsinki press trip which I will tell you more about in this blogpost!

A couple of months ago my team and I were contacted by mail to discover Finland in particular Helsinki in the December month.Of course this was an amazing offer and we said yes without any hesitation, as I have never been in Finland before. Some of you might know that I regularly have visited Sweden and Denmark which is near to Finland. Helsinki has always been on my bucket list and the moment was finally here to discover Helsinki this month. Of course we packed quite heavy as we were told It can be very cold in Finland around this time of the year. I had to organise this very well as I came back from my press events and shootings in Paris, double checks!

Sunset at 3pm. The days are short in Helsinki during the Winter season. 4 to 5 Horus of daylight from 9am.

After a decent flight of 2,5 hours from Amsterdam to Helsinki we arrived with great excitement! Luckily this trip was planned in details by the My Helsinki residence and were guided to the Tourist information desk to pick up our week schedule with tickets, information and so on. It was time to take a train to the city centre where our #Myhelsinkiresidence apartment was waiting for us. Good thing was that the public traffic in Finland is absolutely easy and organized. First impressions of Helsinki were very positive as the mentality of Finished people is open and kind. The second things that really got my attention is the it really has a clean infrastructure, no cigarettes on the streets, no dirt or homeless people. Finland is really active on climate change and really takes its measurements to fight this world problem, by creating awareness to the Finish society, support the Vegan lifestyle and co2 neutral property projects. Our apartment was located right in the city centre with a beautiful balcony overseeing the beautiful city centre of Helsinki. The fridge was filled with typical products of Finland which were cheese, yoghurts and Salmon! Finland is known for its independence of food and other nature products. Almost everything is made in Finland from Almond milk to candy. Funny fact did you know Finland is known for its candy? Did you know that Finland is know for their coffee moments with their typical pastry called: Korvapuusti. This known pastry is sweet and usual to eat with coffee moments which are around 4 times a day. Ps. We all might use the Nespresso machine but in Finland they are focused on filter coffee which is actually not bad, they are really focused on the quality of the coffee as there are even coffee corners with South American coffee or African coffee. 

Helsinki really gave me rest and peace as no one is constantly on its phone or rushing like we generally do in Europe. Everybody takes its time to actual connect with each other and be itself. The Finish government supports individuality which means don’t be afraid to show your real selves, whether this is your sexuality , taste or state of mind. I think this is a great thing as most other country governments see you as a number.

Uspenski Cathedral Helsinki. A remarkable building in Helsinki with Russian influence.

Sauna culture

Sauna’s are a big thing in Finland. As it can get quite cold in Finland a Sauna is the perfect therapy for this after a day of work, or during your lunchbreak. Sauna culture

Sauna bathing is an essential part of Finnish culture and national identity. There are only 5,4 million Finns but 3,3 million saunas. Public saunas used to be common in bigger cities but now that most new apartments have sauna off their own, public saunas have decreased dramatically in number. There are only a couple remaining. As a sense of community is becoming a more and more important part of new urban culture, many new public saunas are being planned.We were invited to spend a day at a Sauna in Helsinki which is owned by actor Jasper Pääkkönen known for tis role in the hit series ‘Vikings’. The Sauna is called Löyly (meaning the steam that comes when you throw water on hot stones in a sauna) The site is unique. Being less than two kilometers away from the city centre, it is very central but at the same time the landscape is like in the outer archipelago. The plot is situated in a future coastal park that will be part of a broader “Helsinki park” connecting the capital city to the sea. The building was designed to be slim and elongated so as not to cut the narrow park strip. The architectural idea is simple: there is a rectangular black box containing the warm spaces that is covered with a free form wooden “cloak”. Instead of being mere decoration, the sculptural structure made of heat treated pine has several functions. It provides people with visual privacy. However, the lamellas don’t limit the sea view from inside it, rather they function like venetian blinds and blocking the views from outside. When the wooden building turns gray, it will become more like a rock on the shoreline.There are three different saunas that are all heated with wood: a continuously heated sauna, a once heated sauna (that is heated in the morning before the sauna is open and stays warm all evening) and a traditional smoke sauna – a true rarity in an urban sauna. This is how you can experience all sorts of Finnish Löyly during a single visit. Between the saunas there is spa area and a fire place room to relax in, between or after sauna bathing. You can swim in the sea and in the winter there is an “avanto”, the hole in the ice for winter swimming – a popular hobby in Finland and our office name as well. Which I obviously dit not do :).

Sauna Loyly

Architecture and Art.

Helsinki is a modern, pocked-sized European city known for design and high technology. Helsinki’s attractive an unique character comes form its proximity of the sea, as well as its location between the east and west. Helsinki is a globally unique art nouveau city with its astonishing 600 buildings that represent this style – a number exceeding that of Barcelona or Brussels, to name a few. These architectural highlights are becoming increasingly popular amongst both tourists and the city’s residents. and the city’s diverse and multi-layered architecture invites you to take a stroll and share your pictures on social media. When walking through Helsinki one notices the lack of old landmarks. There is no historic core, old town or remains of a fortress or a medieval city center, like in other cities along the Baltic Sea or in Scandinavia. Helsinki’s story is based on its modern capital city status and on its location at the sea, the Gulf of Finland. Helsinki came about as the result of royal and imperial politics. 

Helsinki central library Oodi. One of my favorites places in Helsinki by its architecture.
kiasma museum of contemporary art
kiasma museum of contemporary art

Food

In Helsinki we discovered many things of food level. I try to eat vegetarian as much as I can and noticed right away that most people in Helsinki are Vegetarian. In al supermarkets there is such a big offer of vegetarian or Vegan products, all produced in Finland. This was really a paradise for me. I could tell on and on about food, but I think there is only one thing that I really think I should highlight. We had diner at one of Helsinki’s eldest Restaurants with a Michelin holding status called Olo. Olo has been rewarded with a Michelin star every year since 2011. They pamper their guests throughout the evening by the Market Square in Helsinki, with a tasting menu prepared with love. The Scandinavian menu is built around Jari Vesivalo’s childhood memories, with a modern and international nuance. The service was outstanding so was the food. We had a personal waiter with us all evening long and their knowledge of the dished was very professional. The experience its just great as you really enjoy your evening and enjoy the dished. For your information we were there from 6:30pm until 11 :). I strongly recommend Olo during your future visit in Helsinki.

The kitchen of Michelin restaurant OLO in Helsinki
Starters

Conclusion

I could tell so much about Helsinki as it really was one of my best made memories made this year. The vibe, culture, environment and so on really are amazing. From food to sauna’s I had one of the best experiences. Due time shortage we were not able to explore the whole city, but I am sure I will return in the NewYear. I strongly recommend Finland and Helsinki in general to visit as it really has a lot to offer. If you have any questions feel free to reach out. I want to thank the Helsinki team for taking care of this trip and all the tips and support during my trip!

Best,

Laurent