This jewel by the sea has everything that a twenty-first century urbanite could wish for in a world capital. Culture, technology, beauty, multiculturalism, history, shops, cafes....Helsinki is teeming with all of it.
It is an eclectic mix of nineteenth century St. Petersburg and modern European. The Temppeliaukio Church is actually built into a massive block of naturaI granite. I thought it would have made a magnificent synagogue..a symbiotic balance of spirituality combined with
the beauty of nature. Helsinki was awarded World Design Capital of 2012. It is the perfect blend of old and new.
This is the country that gave us both Nokia phones and Angry Birds. Need I say more?
While I might have a problem with the frigid and extremely dark winters, (isn't that what Florida is supposed to remedy?) I could simply revel in the summers. While Northern Finland is known as "the land of the midnight sun" (the sun is visible for a full 24 hours) Helsinki has to make due with about twenty hours of daylight at this time of year. Now that's what I call civilized.
Hockey is huge here, even in the summer, and the Finns are an active and recreational people, no matter the climate.
The Husband remarked that it should be required for every elected city official from Toronto to tour some of these Northern European centres to discover the secrets to becoming world class, that elusive designation that we Torontonians are always striving for but can't seem to achieve. Integrated transportation, pedestrian malls, street craft markets, varied street food...all have helped to make Helsinki a desired world class destination.
So what's my problem, you may ask?
These sweet, loving, smart, peaceful people have gone and designated the f***ing squirrel as their city's symbol. The horror!! And with that little nugget of knowledge, my impressions of Finland's capital drastically diminished.
But...you've got to love a city that has almost as many saunas as people.