Two little letters: part I

H and H are the two letters I’m referring to. As in Heather’s Helsinki. They popped into my head earlier this afternoon when I was in the pet shop of all places. This coming Saturday they are taking part in a street festival of sorts.

The street’s name is Hitsaajankatu (Welder’s Street). The area was formerly an oil terminal, and has been reclaimed and turned into a very nice residential / commercial district. Lots of the streets in this area have industrial related names. It’s a very common feature of the street naming process in many parts of Helsinki – the names might reflect the previous use of the area or concentrate on a theme.

The street festival that is coming on Saturday is Hitsin Hulinat. A loose translation is Hell’s Craziness or Hells’ Big Noise. The idea is that all the shops in the area will be having big sales and nice happenings as well. Hitsaajankatu has a mixture of outlets and regular shops. The pet shop falls into the later category, while further up the street is Mr. 14’s favourite shop; Outlet 6, an outlet shop that specialises in skate wear.

Participants and some of their offers!
Participants and some of their offers!
(Click to enlarge image)

The pet shop promise discounts and will have a trainer on hand to give dog training tips. Although our Perry is well-trained, there are a couple of issues that would benefit from some additional work. I’m working on reducing my wardrobe, so I’ll pass on the clothes outlets this time around. Perhaps lunch at Hanko Sushi is on the cards though. I’m pretty certain I know where Mr. 14 will want to go…

Use the picture above, and the two maps below if you are in need of some retail therapy. Have fun out there!

Open this link to a custom-made map with all the listed outlets for your convenience!

Getting there: Helsinki metro station Herttoniemi is a short 5 minute walk away.

PS: Only 27 days to go now…


Taste of Helsinki 2013…

…is coming sooner than you think!

I missed the inaugural Taste last year. Bad timing and bad organisation. Not this year. We have tickets and I’ve been scouring the menu trying to create my ultimate night out. I think dessert will be ‘SALT-CARAMEL CAKE with pine fudge and rhubarb’ from Juuri, and starter is looking more and more like ‘ORGANIC BEEF CARPACCIO, beetroot aioli and juicy salad’ from Bistro O mat. Main course is causing me all sorts of difficulties – there are 12 really great options and while I can’t try them all, I think I should make a decision before I get there 🙂

So, what is Taste of Helsinki? I hear you ask. As per their own site it’s a gourmet food and beverage festival, a boutique picnic, a journey! Where else can you sample the best of Finnish Food and be entertained at the same time? Here is a really good guide to the Taste which as well as being informative, is also really easy to read!

As I type this, the clock is ticking. Only 1 day, 12 hours, 39 minutes and a few seconds to go! Actually for me it will be a little more as we will be heading to the dinner session on Thursday night. Either way, as I mentioned, it’s just around the corner!

The clock is still ticking

Now, if you are wondering why I insist on abbreviating the title to the Taste, well that stems from attending what is now called The Taste Festival in my home city of Hobart, Tasmania. It’s been running for 24 years already and is known just as the Taste. Old habits really do die hard.

In the meantime, I’ll be reporting back after I’ve enjoyed my own Taste of Helsinki!

The next Restaurant Day is just around the corner

and I will be hosting a restaurant! As I mentioned in my opening post of the year, the first restaurant day has already been. The 2nd restaurant day for 2013 (and the ninth overall) will be held this coming Saturday, May 18th. If you are unaware of Restaurant Day, please drop by the official site and read a little about the mechanics behind the restaurants.

Perry posing for Restaurant Day
Perry posing for Restaurant Day

I’ve been contemplating having my own restaurant for at least the last 12 months and having taken that leap of faith and decided to do it. My Dog on the Tuckerbox restaurant is going to cater to our four-legged friends and their two-legged companions. At the time of publishing there are well over 1200 restaurants taking part, and in the greater Helsinki region alone you will have the choice of over 400 to choose from!

You’ll find restaurants in parks, in shops, in courtyards, on beaches, on terraces… anywhere that there is a passing parade and hungry customers. My location is in a dog park situated just a little way from the city centre, close to where both the president and prime minister have their official residences and dog heaven. There’s a beach too which is always busy.

I hope you have a great time exploring Helsinki and finding a restaurant or three that you like! Name the cuisine, I’m quite sure you’ll be able to find someone serving it up! Be brave, try something new!

No doubt Perry will have a great time too 🙂

Here’s to 2013!

I’d like to wish a Happy New Year to all of my visitors, past and present!

2012 was Helsinki’s 200th birthday, and it was the year that Helsinki was the World Design Capital. For me personally, it was the year I met Tom from Yobot, only to mourn his loss a few short months later. I’m happy to say that Tom’s family are continuing the business and I’m glad to have been able to play a small part in this resurrection.

I’m looking forward to seeing what 2013 will bring! For those of you looking forward to the summer, we know that the Tall Ships will be visiting Helsinki in July this year. Winter has its attractions though, and the very first event coming our way is Lux Helsinki. I’ve missed this event in previous years (this is the fifth time the event has been run) and plan on visiting as many of these installations as possible.

The first Restaurant Day of the year (Ravintola Päivä) will be held on February 17th and while I’ll be out-of-town for this winter foodie festival, I’ll certainly be around for the next one, scheduled for May 2013. This wonderfully unique event first originated in Helsinki in 2011, and has spread around the world. Amsterdam to Zürich, Denmark to Japan and a dozen places in between, there is almost sure to be a Restaurant Day coming to a location close to you!

There is an outdoor art exhibition held in Kivinokka every summer year. It’s a very special and unique exhibition that uses the environment as the stage. The event has been organised every year since 2003, so this year being the 10th anniversary I’m hoping there is something extra special on offer. Either way, I’ll be visiting and writing about Kivinokka in the coming months. Here is a little taste of what you can expect from the 2011 exhibition.

Sisu Exhibition
(Kivinokka 2011)

Looking forward to sharing Helsinki with you in 2013!

Yobot Have Announced Their Return

A picture really is worth a thousand words… and this one says it all!

Yobot Announce Their Return
(Photo credit: Yobot)

Not only that, the re-opening party invites have been sent out and you’re invited too (as long as you are in Helsinki that is!) This Friday, December 14th 2012 from 16:00 until 21:00. Remember the address? No matter, here it is again: Runeberginkatu 54 A, Helsinki! They’ve got new treats and toppings, so drop in and say hello to the Yobotian team. They’re ready to go!

For the new readers of Heather’s Helsinki, please check out my earlier Yobot entries here and here.

Now the business and the personal sides of my life are overlapping. I’ve written about my very small part in this adventure over here. I hope you are as excited by this as I am 🙂

Helsinki’s Hidden Treasures # 2

Helsinki has many islands in the immediate surroundings. Some are large, connected to the mainland by bridge or causeway, well populated and completely serviced with shops, schools and all regular city conveniences. Others are large enough to accommodate a single-room cottage and not much more. Still others belong to the military, and although no longer used for defensive purposes are yet to opened to the public and are still relatively undeveloped.

Some of the larger islands play host to summer restaurants. These establishments cater to all tastes, from 5-star gourmet to family ‘pub-style’ meals and everything in between. Ravintola Palma de Pyy falls into the latter category.

The restaurant is situated on the small island of Pyysaari, situated off the larger island of Laajasalo, in the east of Helsinki. Pyysaari is also home to the Helsingin Työväen Pursiseura (Helsinki’s Workers Sailing Club). Pyysaari can be reached by car; bus 88 from Herttoniemi metro station; following the bike path to Laajasalo, or even by boat and mooring on their guest pier.

You know you’ve arrived at your destination:

Pyysaari HTPS

The menu, drinks and opening hours are posted on the other side of the gate for easy reference:

Pyysaari Menu & Hours

It’s a very picturesque spot:

Pyysaari Gate (shut the gate on the way out!)

The bridge onto the island doubles as a pier for member’s sailing boats:

Pyysaari Pier

Man’s best friend is well provided for:

Pyysaari Dog Parking

The menu is nothing fancy, and hasn’t changed as long as I’ve been eating here:

What’s on the menu today? Pyysaari food list

All the dishes are Finnish specialities. Salads, steaks and open sandwiches. Today I ordered Oopperaleipä, while my companions took Sillivoileipä and Lehtipihvi (Opera Open Sandwich, Herring Open Sandwich and Minute Steak). While we waited for our dinner to arrive there was time to take in the view and open a nicely chilled beer:

Pyysaari Refreshments and the view beyond

The judges box and flag pole. The seagull perched on the arm was there for the length of our dinner. The housing area to the right on the other side of the bay is where the author lives! If we lean out of our balcony and look left we are looking straight towards Pyysaari.

Pyysaari & The View!

Our food came to the table in a reasonable time:

Clockwise from top left: Minute Steak, Opera Sandwich, Herring Sandwich, Clubhouse exterior

As desserts are low priority for us we settled for coffee and hot chocolate to end the meal. Like some summer restaurants, service is of the “self-service” kind from the inside bar:

Pyysaari Bar

Some hints: opening hours are weather dependent. If the weather is not good and not many people are about, then they will close early. There is seating both inside and on the terrace. On warm summer days the demand is much greater than capacity and you could be in for a quite a wait if you want to sit on the terrace. The restaurant is open from May Day until the end of September.

On a parting note, a useful souvenir:

Pyysaari ‘Palma de Pyy’ matches

Just how do you celebrate 200 years?

If you are Helsinki, you throw a party! (Actually, I think everybody might throw a party for being 200 years old.) The Helsinki party is more than just one day: the actual Helsinki Day is one day of an 18 day event called Helsinki Week. In 2012, the event ran from May 31st. June 17th marked the final day of this celebration of all things Helsinki.

As I wrote earlier, the new cycling path Baana * was officially opened. We were there close to the ribbon cutting:

Ribbon slung between two bicycles. Where are the scissors?

The city used this day and occasion to distribute the new cycling map.

Helsinki City 2012 Cycling Map

Everybody that rode through the Baana on the official opening received a map at the end. The maps are free and have more than just the cycle paths marked. Nature reserves are included, and many of these cycle paths become part of the cross-country ski tracks in winter. Cafés, museums, beaches, grilling spots, lookouts, historical sites, camping grounds and culturally significant spots are included. I actually have three: one with the bike, one at home for route planning and one in the car for locating new spots to visit! You can pick one up from any Helsinki library, the City of Helsinki Sports Department and the Helsinki Tourist Office. Helsinki City have also provided an electronic version.

There was an abundance of events to choose from on Helsinki Day. I’ve already decided that next year I am going to ensure that I know well in advance where the Historical Café will be. This year, the event was hosted in one of the city’s numerous museum buildings: Sederholm House. This café is not just any old café. The food on offer is made according to the tastes of 19th century Helsinki. In 2012 the menu included served almond cake, apple cake, individual meringues, as well as sweet and savoury pastries. As the recipes hark back to a time less industrial there is lots of butter! There was also the opportunity to enjoy some ‘tunes’ of the era.

Café Empire (courtesy

City Hall activities for all the family the whole day. I would have enjoyed catching up with a Balinese clown and listening to some toe tapping big band sounds. For the young at heart there was a puppet theatre performance highlighting Helsinki’s foundation as well as some unique views of Finland.

As an extra special gift to Helsinki residents all swimming pools (both indoor and outdoor) were free of charge for the day, while the Olympic Stadium and Helsinki-Vantaa Airport also arranged special 60th birthday events.

Our highlight was going to be the concert staged in Kaisaniemi Park. The lineup was a great cross-section of Finnish (popular) music, and I wouldn’t be able to nominate a favourite. Reckless Love, Erin, POTFHerra Ylppö & IhmisetLauri TähkäHapporadio, Rasmus and Chisu. Okay, since you asked I have a big soft spot for Poets, Happoradio, Rasmus and Chisu, not necessarily in that order! Our plans changed somewhat and we ended up enjoying an impromptu dinner at the Savu Restaurant. A review will follow in due course.

As the Helsinki Week page will be updated in time for the 2013 Helsinki Week, I suggest that you have a look at the wide variety of events that were organised for this year. While there is too much for one person to be able to do and ENJOY everything, at least there is no shortage of things to do. My must-do list for next year already has some entries!

* Baana is colloquial Finnish word for road / route / track, and in this use is a very good example of classic Finnish play on words. This new cycling track has been built on an abandoned section of rail track from the harbour.