Monday, April 30, 2012

Vappu picnic at Kaivopuisto

If you want to celebrate Vappu properly like the Finns do you should be prepared to wake up early tomorrow. On May 1st Helsinki locals go to have an early picnic at Kaivopuisto Park. It is a very old tradition and takes place no matter if it rains, storms or snows. Luckily the forecast for tomorrow is pretty good. It is one of the things you have to experience when you spend May 1st in Helsinki. Bring some snacks and drinks, a blanket to sit on and be early. Even though it’s a big park it’s going to be packed. The later you come the tougher it will be to find a spot to sit down. Many groups and families have traditional spots where they are every year. To reserve it they go through the trouble of coming there already at 7 in the morning (some might already be there the night before).

But you don’t have to sit down. You can also just walk around and enjoy the atmosphere.

Hyvää vappua!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A cap for Amanda

Vappu is about to start. One very important part of the celebration is Mantan Lakitus. But what is that and what happens there?

Every year at April 30th (tomorrow!) the students of Helsinki come to the fountain at Kauppatori where they give the white student’s cap to the Havis Amanda Statue. It is a special honor to be chosen for this very special event. In the old days the students used to climb up the statue to put the cap on top of the woman’s head. At some point the city forbid that to avoid damage for the fountain. Nowadays a crane lowers a group of students from above down to the statue. Before Havis Amanda (or Manta) gets her cap the statue is being washed by the students. At 6 p.m. the cap will then be put in place. This is then also the sign for everyone around to start wearing their hats (it’s not allowed before).

Mantan lakitus has a long tradition and is really worth watching. It is recommendable to be there an hour early if you want to see something.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The World Cup starts soon!

And here I don’t speak about football (soccer) but of course the ice hockey world cup that is going to be held in Helsinki and Stockholm this year. It’s going to be a great event. Especially since Finns are crazy about ice hockey. It is their number one sport and way more important than football or even Formula 1. This year Finland starts into the cup as World Champion and if of course eager to defend their title.

The championship will start at May 4th. But if you want to know it exactly you should take a look at Mannerheimintie on the opposite site of Kiasma. A countdown there tells you exactly how many more hours you have to wait.

So let the games begin…soon!

Friday, April 27, 2012

History and nature at Seurasaari

Another really nice walk is along the coastline of the small island Seurasaari. Through a bridge it is connected to the mainland all year long. At Seurasaari you can see old Finnish wooden houses from the 17th till the 20thcentury

But it’s not just historically interesting there. Also the nature is worth seeing. You find the typical Finnish landscape even though you are just a short bus ride away from the center of Helsinki. Small beaches and flat rocks invite you especially in spring and summer to spend some time and look over the water and maybe even go for a swim. In summer this year the old nudist beach on Seurasaari and the only one in Helsinki reopens.  

Have a break at the café or the recently renovated restaurant if you like. Both provide scenic view over the island and the sea. You easily get to Seurasaari by car or with bus line 24.

Seurasaari is the perfect place for a walk or just sitting on the rocks and relaxing – or for watching animals. Seurasaari is famous for its squirrels. So keep your eyes open.