Tag Archives: Helsinki

For WishCasa: To/From Helsinki with love.

I had the pleasure to collaborate with WishCasa Magazine on their one-year anniversary issue. I was invited to write about the wonderful city I have been calling home for the past two years: Helsinki.

WhishCasa is a breath of fresh air in the Brazilian design scene.  It was a pleasure to work with them. Congratulation and thank you! Long live WishCasa!

Below is the first part of the original article in Portuguese as well as a rough English version, so our international friends and partners wouldn’t feel left out. The entire article consisted of my ten favorite places in Helsinki, which I promise to gradually post, one by one, along with its English translation.

To/From Helsinki with love!

My love story with Helsinki began in 1998, when I went on a three-month exchange programme to Finland, soon after starting architecture school. The city greeted me covered in snow, with endless nights,  warm hand shakes, candlelight and in the most peculiar language I have ever heard.

From this time, I left with friends for life, an obsession with the work of architect Alvar Aalto and the certainty I would be back. In 2010, I started a Master’s Programme at the Aalto University School of Arts Design and Architecture. Helsinki has not changed much, it has remained a lovely slow paced place which has gained a cosmopolitan charm over the years.

The difference between winter and summer is remarkable. The experience of the Finnish cold weather is surreal, especially for tropical souls. In the winter, the word sisu, is easier to understand.  Lacking a precise translation to English, its meaning would be a compilation of perseverance, credibility, efficiency and honesty, characteristic of Finns. Relying on a lot of sisu, the infrastructure of Helsinki runs smoothly, even under piles of snow. There are no excuses for not enjoying the exotic pleasures of low temperatures.

The sauna experience is indispensable. In a nation of small social disparity, everybody goes to the public saunas. There bathing suits are optional, however this is one of the rare moments when you feel more naked if dressed. Walking over the frozen Baltic Sea is at the top of my favourite activities. In the winter, the perception of the city is altered. The functionalist architecture seems to be even more discrete in the dark days. Helsinki becomes a white town, framed in a grey-reddish horizon that resembles the Nordic expressionist paintings.

In the summer, snow-free and under the irreplaceable sunlight, the city reveals itself. The perception of the urban plan becomes clearer and I find myself discovering new-old buildings everyday. The city is mostly flat, composed by short building and wide sidewalks, perfect to be explored on foot. The transportation system does not disappoint. The trams are punctual, confortable, safe and a great option to see a lot in little time.

Helsinki slows down in the summer. Schools and universities close their doors and companies work with limited workforce. Helsinki taught me that efficiency requires leisure time. Perhaps, this is one of the secrets of the Finnish well fair state, of which, more than the architecture of Aalto, Finland and its capital are most proud.

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Café Caneli – Helsinki

It is thesis term and alongside all the academic writing that comes with it, I decided to indulge in a class called “writing inspirations”.  As first assignment I was asked to choose a picture and write about it – freestyle.

Since I am not having time to write in here, I thought I might take the opportunity to choose something I wanted to talk about in the blog.

In 2011, during one of my “exploring Helsinki” days I came across Café Caneli.  Helsinki is a lovely city in many aspects, but I have to say good coffee is definitely not one of them. So whenever I discover a place that serves high quality coffee, I become a regular. Caneli is small, simple and charmingly roughly finished. Repetition is its main decorative trick: black cans and brown paper sacks are neatly displayed on the walls, giving your eyes something to look at while enjoying your coffee. If you are the rare kind of person who doesn’t drink coffee, tea and smoothies are the other house specialties.

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To my girls, with love!

Tropi

My love for Finland was never a secret and after I actually moved to Helsinki it managed to grow more and more each day. This country has given me a lot and, among it all, the most valuable: friends. As I made public here, ten months ago, I lost my dear mother and life has been tough ever since. But this blog is a space for good feelings and that’s why I would like to share the sweetest, kindest gesture I received from five dear friend whom I had the pleasure to meet in Finland.

Kate (UK), Natalie (Germany), Julie (France), Karin (Estonia), Carolina (Colombia) created a character by the name of Tropi. They knitted it – bringing it to 3D life – wrote and illustrated  a booklet featuring Tropi’s saga. Tropi is a little Brazilian fish who has always loved Finland and, one day, decides to swim all the way from Brazil to this country. Please, don’t ask me about the alternative routes he might have had to take to reach Finnish ground – it was not elaborated by the authors – but we can assume he’s a tough cookie.

According to the story, Tropi met a lot of people in Finland and, before he had realized, he already had YKSI (one), KAKSI (two), KOLME (three), PALJION (several) friends in this beautiful land. It is true. I received Tropi and his story by mail in Brazil on a very tough day. Their gesture touched me deeply and brought a bit of light to a very dark moment in my life. I want the girls to know that Tropi has found his way back to Finland and is managing to enjoy its white winter, which we all came to love. I keep him very close to my solar lamp so he does not miss the sun or get low vitamin D levels.

Tropi at Taik

As you can see, he has already been to Taik and has met new friends this year. However, he secretly told me that the ones he really loved are no longer here. He misses them very much and wish to see them again. Very soon.

Thank you!

Meu amor pela Finlândia nunca foi segredo pra ninguém e, depois que me mudei pra Helsinki, esse amor só cresceu. Esse país me deu muitas coisas, entre elas, a mais valiosa: amigos. Como eu contei aqui, há dez meses, perdi minha querida mãe e a vida tem sido dura desde então. Mas esse blog é um espaço pra bons sentimentos e é por isso que gostaria de dividir com vocês um gesto muito doce, gentil, de cinco amigas que tive o prazer de conhecer na Finlândia.

Kate (UK), Natalie (Alemanha), Julie (França), Karin (Estonia), Carolina (Colômbia) criaram uma personagem chamada Tropi. Elas a tricotaram – dando à ela vida em 3D – escreveram e ilustraram um livreto contando a sagra de Tropi. Tropi é um peixinho brasileiro que sempre amou a Finlândia e, um dia, decide nadar do Brazil até lá. Por favor, não me perguntem que rota alternativa ele pegou pra alcançar terras finlandesas – isso não foi especificado pelas autoras – mas podemos assumir que ele é osso duro de roer.

De acordo com a estória, Tropi conheceu muitas pessoas na Finlânida e, antes que se desse conta, já tinha feito YKSI (um), KAKSI (dois), KOLME (três), PALJION (muitos) amigos nessa bela terra. Eu recebi Tropi e a sua estória pelo correio, no Brasil, em um dia muito difícil. O gesto delas me tocou profundamente e trouxe um pouco de luz para um momento muito negro da minha vida.  Gostaria que as meninas soubessem que Tropi achou seu caminho de volta e está conseguindo aproveitar o inverno branco, que conhecemos e amamos juntas. Eu deixo Tropi perto da minha lâmpada solar, para que ele não sinta muita falta do sol ou tenha problemas taxas de vitamina D. 

Como vocês podem ver, ele já foi à Taik e fez novos amigos esse ano. Mas o Tropi me contou, em segredo, que aqueles que ele  amava não estão mais aqui. Ele tem muita saudade e gostaria de revê-los. Logo, logo.

Muito obrigada!

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Helsinki!

I arrived back in Helsinki last week and this is how the city greeted me. Fo those who never had the opportunity to visit Finland, it may look unwelcoming, but it is the opposite. This is one of the best winter scenarios in Helsinki: loads of snow on the ground and the certainty, in the back of my head,  that daylight hours are only stretching from now on until summer peaks.

Sorry, there is just a small detail that I forgot to mention: it is -21C, today. The daylight is gorgeous, though.

Cheguei em Helsinki na semana passada e foi assim que a cidade me recebeu. Para aqueles que nunca tiveram a oportunidade de visitar a Finlândia, a imagem pode parecer pouco receptiva, mas é exatamente o contrário. Essa é uma das melhores situações do inverno em Helsinki: muita neve no chão e a certeza, lá no fundo, de que, daqui em diante,  as horas de luz só vão aumentar até o auge do verão. 

Desculpa, só esqueci de mencionar um detalhe: está -21C, hoje. Mas a luz está linda. 

Sorry about the Instagram picture. Just started using it and I’m not ready to let it go, yet. I promise a natural-light-one, for the next time.

Desculpa pela foto do Instagram. Comecei a usar agora e não consigo parar. Prometo uma imagem com luz natural, para a próxima vez.

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To Hulu: Chez Dominique

Chef Hans Välimäki

Well, I just read a comment that my Chinese friend and MA classmate Hulu made on Facebook about this restaurant and decided to write this post to pass on what I consider to be a great tip.

Hulu wrote that a friend of hers recommended the restaurant Chez Dominique to her. A second later a Finnish friend of hers wrote her a message saying that a meal there would cost her over 150 Euros and I could guess she might have felt a bit discouraged to even walk past the place. Well, this is when my good tip takes place.

Chez Dominique is a magnificent restaurant which carries the weight of two Michelin stars, the most “starred” there is in Helsinki. Yes, it is very sophisticated.  Maybe over sophisticated for my taste sometimes:  the waiter himself  places the linen napkin over your lap when you sit. More uncomfortable than “chic”, don’t you think?  Who wants a stranger almost touching your lap when you go dining?

Oops, I lost my stream of thought, sorry. Getting back to the tip to Hulu. Chez Dominique is a fantastic restaurant and it offers  lunch menu at a very reasonable price, specially considering its pedigree.

From Wednesday to Friday.

27 Euros for a 2 course menu

29 Euros for a 3 course menu

Isn’t it a great tip? Instead of a dish for 150 Euros, Hulu now knows that she can save on beer (or Baileys, right, Hulu?) for a couple of weeks and have not only one, but three dishes for 29 Euros in a two-Michelin-star-restaurant.

Hulu, do you need company? I’ll be happy to join.

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