Six pictures of Esplanade Park in Helsinki, Finland

These are all from my week in Helsinki in January 2012.

A man walking in Esplanade Park, Helsinki (photo credit Jill Browne)

Statue of J. L. Runeberg, Finland's National Poet (photo credit Jill Browne)

Trees in Helsinki Esplanade in winter (photo credit Jill Browne)

First of two pictures of walking in Helsinki (photo credit Jill Browne)

Second of two pictures of walking in Helsinki (photo credit Jill Browne)

Girl in a white coat (photo credit Jill Browne)

The mystery of the orange tent in Helsinki (1 picture)

Yesterday I posted this picture and asked if you know what’s inside. I thought it was one of those tents the workers put over manholes in the winter or during rain so they can do their work without also having to fight the elements quite so much.

Orange tent, Helsinki (photo credit Jill Browne)

Today: the Great Reveal!

Selling fish in Helsinki outdoor market, January 2012 (photo credit Jill Browne)

On this particular day, the outdoor market place was deserted but for this one fish seller. Three men were actually working in the tent, with a lot of beautiful fresh fish on the counter. This gentleman is the fish king. If I had been staying in a place with a kitchen (rather than in a hotel) I would have been tempted to buy some of that gorgeous salmon.

If you go to Helsinki in summer, you won’t believe that there was only one stand open in the market! Normally, even in winter, it’s a busy place.

Helsinki Harbour and Old Market, January 19, 2012 (5 pictures)

When I decided to go to Helsinki, I had never been there before, and (to the shock of all my travel writer friends) I did no research beforehand, other than some minimal stuff to get a hotel and figure out how to get from the airport, and how to buy a Helsinki Card.

This absence of research is a deliberate choice and a calculated risk. I really prefer to find out about a new place on the ground, though the risk is I will come home to find out I missed the most spectacular thing.

It’s a small risk. The major sites of any European city that I am likely to visit are always promoted by the tourist bureau. I would rather not hear their adjectives until I have seen the place for myself. As for those special off-the-beaten-track experiences, it depends how much time I have. I was in Helsinki for about a week, during which I was busy enough every day exploring the attractions on the Helsinki card and wandering around aimlessly, which is what I do best.

So, here are a few pictures of my Helsinki trip. Hope you like them. I loved Helsinki, by the way.

Two ships, one with three masts, in harbour in winter

Helsinki Harbour in winter (photo credit Jill Browne)

I got off the tram when I saw the ships in the harbour, floating there amid the polygons of ice from the Gulf of Finland.

 

White ship about 40 feet, in icy water

Nikolai II in Helsinki Harbour in winter (photo credit Jill Browne)

One of the ships, the Nikolai II, is a floating restaurant. Take note of the sidewalk. Take note of the water. Take note of their close relationship, unimpeded by any sort of fence, handrail, barrier, whatever.

All my life I have had a fear of falling off the edge of something into the water. Apparently no one in Helsinki shares my phobia. (If they did, the poor Nikolai would be out of business.)

Helsinki Old Market (photo credit Jill Browne)

The intriguing red and white brick building is the Old Market. Very cosy it is. In here you can buy fish, fruit, vegetables, bread, sweets, and reindeer meat, reindeer jerky, and reindeer hides.

Sundmans Restaurant in Helsinki (photo credit Jill Browne)

I didn’t eat at Sundmans Restaurant but it looks quite inviting. The little splashy things you may notice in the photo are a million tiny snowflakes falling just for me.

Orange Tent, Helsinki (photo credit Jill Browne)

I will leave you to ponder the mystery of the orange tent. I’ll come back and explain after you think about it for a while.

Helsinki in January: The Esplanade (1 picture)

 

Woman walking away, Esplanade, formal park in Helsinki, in winter. Lots of snow.

The Esplanade, Helsinki, January 19, 2012. Photo by Jill Browne.

Helsinki, Finland, January 19, 2012. Photo by Jill Browne.

In the old part of Helsinki there is an elegant formal park called the Esplanade. Even in the middle of a snowy winter, people promenade there, after a fashion.

The people of Helsinki waited longer than usual for the snow to come this year. A couple of them told me they were glad to see it. “It really brightens things up.”

I can understand their happiness. The nights are long in Helsinki in January.