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…


Caption time!

Caption this photo:

I’m sure you can do better than: Somewhere in Helsinki!

My first competition of the year! Actually my first competition ever 😉

The rules are pretty simple: write a caption for this photo in the comments section below before 30th April 2013. *

Prizes & categories are:
most original: Design napkins & lid-support (Iittala);
most amusing: set of 5 vintage poster style postcards;
most accurate: futuristic Finnair playing cards

Need a hint? Ask me a yes/no question in the comments.

Thinking caps on! Your time starts NOW 🙂

* Fine print: comments received after April 30 2013 will be appreciated, just not in the running for one of the groovy prizes on offer. Judges decision is final. Bribery attempts will be acknowledged, they just won’t accept the final outcome 🙂

Did you know that ‘Helsinki’ is actually four cities?

If you are a casual visitor to Helsinki, you may not have realised that Helsinki is actually made up of four different cities. Helsinki springs to mind first, and is the city situated on the harbour. Espoo is our near neighbour to the west and possibly is best known as where Nokia is headquartered. Vantaa is to our north, and is the location of HEL (Helsinki-Vantaa Airport). The fourth and smallest city (in terms of area) is the beautifully named Kauniainen which is actually situated within the city of Espoo.

Metropolitan Helsinki (dark green) / Greater Helsinki (light green)

Each city maintains its own bus network, and through shared ticketing it’s possible to travel from city to city. Some planning is required and the journey planner is one of the most useful tools for working out how to get around Helsinki. So useful, that I even downloaded the application to my phone so I can check my route on the go, and not have to worry about printing out the connections.

Coming soon: island life in the city!

Bus, Ferry, Train or Tram?

Which one to use to get where you are going? It depends! For instance if I want to be somewhere in a hurry I’ll take the metro. Now, it is not the world’s most extensive network as you can see. However, it will deliver me to the city centre from Herttoniemi in about 15 minutes. In winter the only concession for the weather is that the doors don’t open automatically after the temperature drops below -10 degrees celsius from memory. (I’ve had no luck verifying that fact.)

From a commuting point of view, many of the cities buses terminate at a metro station or they stop close by. Yesterday I took the 14B from the harbour area that delivered me to Meilahti Hospital on the other side of the city. The bus had filled well before we reached Kamppi metro station, where the bulk of the passengers hopped off. We continued towards the hospital past ‘the rock church‘ and close by one of my new favourite shops – it’s a café (or is it a yoghurt bar?) that sells frozen yoghurt and I’m looking forward to writing about him in the very near future.

Helsinki buses parked outside National Theatre
(Image courtesy

My bus-pass tipped to the floor of the 14B and luckily I noticed before the bus had continued back towards the harbour. A fellow passenger had handed it to the driver and he returned it to me no questions asked! Bus-pass in hand I continued to Tukholmankatu (Stockholm’s street). This road is extremely busy and as a major arterial road to the western part of Helsinki. Naturally there are plenty of buses. Most head to the centre, there are a few lines that head to the east. The number 58 is an old favourite. Sometime it is quicker and easier to take the bus, especially when heading west. On of the good things about the 58 is that it stops at Pasila. Here it’s possible to catch a local, national or international train. Pasila is quite high compared to the rest of Helsinki, so here the radio and television stations are headquartered. Here too, is a rabbit warren of government and office buildings.

The 58 terminated at Itäkeskus. Metro, bus station and also the shopping centre, now officially known by its colloquial name Itis. Along with the new ‘old’ name has come a major renovation project. Shops are shutting, moving, reopening. It’s very hectic there at the moment. I should have checked before I went. The place I was planning on visiting is closed for renovation and will reopen at the of next week.

Metro train at Kulosaari metro station
(Image courtesy

Metro and a short bus trip had me home again in 20 minutes.

Yesterday’s travels didn’t involve trams or ferries. Don’t despair I will be featuring them in the near future. I read this morning that Helsinki city has new trams on order (unfortunately it appears they won’t be on the tracks until 2014) and they are on display from this weekend.

Public transport case – highly reflective
The all important card. To borrow from a certain credit card supplier ‘don’t leave home without it’

I’ll leave you with an interesting bus fact: the Helsinki bus route numbers indicate the postcode of the area the buses travel to or from!