I have quite a love affair with Northern Europe. The first time I was in the Scandinavian region was for a game jam in Copenhagen. I immediately fell in love with minimalist design, friendly people, beautiful city architecture, and the amazing fashion.
For such a small city, Helsinki pulls off being an international metropolis while retaining its small town feel. It also became one of the game development capitals of the world with heavyweight game companies like Rovio (creator of Angry Birds) and Supercell (creator of Clash of Clans and Clash Royale) calling the city home. This should be no surprise because the city is one of the northernmost capitals in the world and an incredibly long winter. (Therefore, people spend a lot of time indoors!)
This is the first time I visited Helsinki in non-winter months. People (Finnish people included) warned me that it could be rainy and cold in early September. Much to my surprise, it was sunny with no storm clouds in site. Days were long with sun setting after 9 pm. I spent most of my time in Helsinki with a game developer I advise, so I only had one free morning to explore the city.
Mornings are my favorite time to explore any new place, especially the first two hours after sunrise. The harsh urban landscapes soften in the morning glow. Also, there is hardly anyone around, so I was able to take photos of the neoclassical city center to my heart's content. First, I started my stroll at the Esplanadi and made my way towards Senate Square. Unfortunately, there was some renovations happening on one side of the Lutheran Cathedral, so I only could take a side shot.
Then, I made my way across the bridge to Katajanokka where the red Uspenski Cathedral sits. On the way, I stopped to get a coffee at Johan & Nyström, the Helsinki outpost of a famous Swedish coffeehouse. The cafe is set inside a brick warehouse and filled with comfortable chairs. When the sun's out, the Finns will sit outside at all costs. Outdoor patio tables included warm fleece blanket for those brave enough to sit outside and enjoy their coffee.
What are you favorite spots in Helsinki? Leave a comment below!