The last stop of my week-long European vacation was Helsinki. Like many tours of European cities, the tour starts from the city square. In Helsinki, this place is called Senate Square. This is the oldest part of central Helsinki and around the square is the Helsinki Cathedral, the Government Palace, and the University of Helsinki. During Christmastime, the city set up a number of Christmas markets around the city. This one in particular had a mobile sauna!!
Near the waterfront was the Old Market Hall. It has a small set of shops and cafes, but it seems to be mainly aimed at tourists.
I was recommended to go to the Soup Kitchen for some Finnish seafood soup. It has a tomato base, with some cut up veggies. The protein were chunks of salmon and shrimp. It had a savoury flavour that was somehow perfectly balanced by the acidity. I could taste the intensity of the flavour without it being overpowering – this is something I’d like to know how to replicate in my own home cooking!!
Another popular location in Helsinki is the Esplanadi. It’s essentially a urban park in downtown Helsinki with restaurants and cafes on the side for people to chill at.
On the nearby island of Suomenlinna is the site of an old Finnish sea fortress from the 18th century. It’s a pretty nice place to walk around with views of the water.
There’s also a museum for an old retired Finnish submarine too.
For dinner, I had the chance to try bear meat for the first time! It’s from a Russian-style restaurant called Ravintola Saslik.
The bear itself was grilled and wrapped in bacon. The bear tasted like a rougher red meat. It wasn’t that chewy and fell apart easily. It’s true when people say apex predators don’t taste as good. Unfortunately, I felt super lethargic that day from the hectic days of travelling, so I didn’t have the appetite to really enjoy this meal as much as I wanted to.
At night, the Christmas market at Senate Square is still bustling.
On my last night in Helsinki, I went out with some of the folks I met at the hostel I stayed at. We went out for dinner and drinks and I finished the trip with one last hurrah. I also learned that Finns really like to karaoke! It is said that Kimi Räikkönen really likes karaoke, despite his stone cold responses in his press conferences.
Here’s a bonus picture of a dog that I met while browsing a bookstore! Her name is Lola and she is the bookstore dog. She likes to lie there and take pets from passers-by!