Saturday, 4 September 2010


On Thursday I went with Leigh and the rest of the textile students to Helsinki - by bus (6 hours) - primarily to visit Habitare, a Finnish Design fair. Upon arriving in the city at around 12 noon, we were taken to the hostel to drop our stuff off then we went straight to the fair. The exhibitions we saw demonstrated all we'd gathered from Finnish design so far - basic and functionalist, the Finns like to lead a simple lifestyle with no time for decoration. Due to this, I didn't find the furnishing and interior design halls too inspiring but we did find a lot of worthy research in the art exhibitions on the floor below. After spending 5 hours here (which including taking a nap on a sofa in a corridor...) we were left to explore the city. 
It wasn't how I'd expected at all, I'd imagined many grand buildings and strong European vibes but in reality I found the inner city very similar to Manchester in it's layout and buildings. As we explored the outer skirts of the city and the older parts of town we definitely found more Russian influenced architecture, and some nicer small streets filled with boutiques.  The H&M also had a home department which was initially exciting until we realised they didn't stock much other than towels, throws and cushions.

After being seated in Pizza Hut, then sneaking out when the waiter wasn't looking - after discovering a large margarita with stuffed crust cost €32 (WHAT), we went to a smaller sit in pizza shop and I ordered a 'family size' for €11, which turned out to be at least 16", bargain!! We then attempted to walk back to the hostel which took well over an hour due to us getting lost, finally finding it and making our beds for the night in a 12 bed dorm.
I surprisingly slept really well and we opted out of taking a bus with some coursemates to some galleries and museums the next morning. We decided instead to have a more extensive look around the city, exploring some back streets and the like. After a coffee shop breakfast we found some amazing second hand shops, which stocked vast arrays of knitted winter jumpers and cardigans. We both made some non-regrettable purchases here after a good half an hour of browsing and decisions. We also had a good look around Kiasma, the city's modern art museum, which hosted a lot of questionable video art, before getting on the coach back home.

Maybe we didn't spend enough time in the city to discover the really interesting parts of town, but it wasn't as amazing as I'd hoped for! I much prefer the layout and atmosphere in Kuopio, it's a really clean city and very close to the lakes and forests which feel a bit detached from Helsinki. Maybe I'll visit it again for a longer stay or maybe not, but I'm glad to be back in the east of Finland for now!!

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