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.