Dear Diary: Trip to Helsinki

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Earlier this month, I visited Helsinki, Finland for 4 days. Main purpose was to see Assembly, but I did enjoy the city as well! Here are my snapshot diary..

Smooth Landing: The day I arrived was raining of course. (I bring rain everywhere.) Tokyo to Helsinki was about 10 hours, and the way back was less than 9 hours. Closer than any other European cities. I liked the uniforms of Finnair flight attendants.

Water: First thing I did was going to supermarket. Normally I’m not interested in “must see” spot that guidebook recommend. I love going to supermarket or market where there’re actual living of people here… But one problem; I cannot read Finnish or Swedish. I realized, to this day, I never been to the place where I cannot guess what it’s written on the label. So I guessed it from the look or picture.. and when I saw someone put something in the cart without examining it, I took that as a good sign and bought the same thing. Then, I kept buying sparking water instead of still. But it was so much fun. I repeat, Sooo much fuuuuun.

Ticket to Helsinki: Walked to the central station and got Day Pass and Route map. Bus, metro, tram... I could go anywhere in Helsinki with these 2 items. I felt safe in the city, and I enjoyed the tram ride.

Moi or Hei: Walking around the city… I don’t know how many times I asked “Anteeksi (Excuse me) where am I?” with maps.

Keep Left: I followed the rules.

My Travel Rule#3: If I see the supermarket, just go in. You know supermarket has its own smell? When I got Asian food market, I smell fish type of smell. And here, as far as I’ve visited, every supermarket welcomed me with a smell of dill.

Heaven: What a big shelf for yogurt! And.. is it.. frozen crayfish…?! Wow. Culture difference.

Lighting is everything: I visited Kiasma, a contemporary art museum. When I visited, they are having exhibitions featuring Marimekko (that was cute). Here’s a rose made with candy, a chandelier made with chicken bones. Decadent. And my favorite artwork was Untitled (1996) by Markus Kahre. I spent a couple of hours here and I enjoyed it, but Dear Kiasma, maybe you could feature more digital artists from your city? I can tell you few if you want.. :)

Spoon: Stockmann, a department store was very convenient. Their floor map was bit complicated but they got everything I need. They got huge and wonderful deli/market downstairs and upstairs I could get the made in Finland wooden spoon that I wanted to bring back with me… now I can remember this trip every time I use this spoon..

Baked Lime: 8th floor was Fazer’s food market. I’ve read Fazer is reliable national brand of Finland, so whenever I have doubts, I chose one from Fazer. It’s very easy place to have lunch alone (like a canteen). They have Wi-Fi and not crowded, so I can just take time (I’m a slow eater). I had shrimp open sandwich, they cooked it right in front of me. Yum. If there’s “next time”, I want to try their dessert section.. They also had café space and grown up people section.

Gatchaman: Right next to the Stockmann, there was a bookshop. I write “right next to it” but I actually took 10 minutes or so to find them. This place is always on the Japanese guidebook, because this place was used for JP movie “KamomeShokudo” filmed in Helsinki (You will love it especially if you're foodie). There were some Moomin book in Japanese too.

Picture books: When I lost the reference from words, I realized the importance of visual message… Just followed my inner Kawaii-sensor…

Fairy: Finlandia, a land of Moomins. Indeed, I saw Moomins everywhere.

Summer Baka: I wonder what this means… (“Baka” in Japanese means “idiot”)

Glamorous takeout: Mandatory, isn’t it.

Market: I was staying close to Hakaniemi market. It was nice to see their flowers and berries every morning.

Eromanga: Inside the Hakaniemi market, there was a bakery which sells meatpie from Eromanga bakery… (giggle) Of course I got them, I got some other bread to take home as well so that I can say this shop’s name again and again.. (giggle) Oh, I like how it tasted too.

Pulla: One thing I wanted to try in Helsinki was to taste their real cinnamon rolls. I have my own recipe of cinnamon rolls, so I wanted to compare and adjust if needed. Overall, I learned “less sugar and more cardamom”

White night: Nightless night, I can’t say good night if there’s no night.

Tourist: This was several hours before going to airport. I held the maps in hands and hung my camera (perfecting the world famous “Japanese tourist” look) and walk around the city. I didn’t have time, so I needed to decide whether I visit Church or traditional café. Church or Cake, that is the question. And I found my church in Café Ekberg. (Well, I have a soft spot for “tradition”…) Here I had their Napoleon cake and coffee, and jumped on the bus to airport…

All in all, it was great trip :)

> 2015 Version is here (I went there again!) 

My Helsinki/Assembly Diary (2015 version)


  1. I am asked quite often by Finns "why do you live here!" and THIS is why. Things like the berries outside the shops in summer. The little things.

    I wish I'd been with you when you went to the Asian markets, because it would have been helpful to compare notes (:

    I think 'baka' is ... well I know it's a Swedish word, and thus it is probably a Swedish magazine. There's no "b" sound in words in Finnish, just 'borrowed' words, so I know it must be Swedish. So I think it might be 'baker' magazine. I don't know, I'm ignoring all the Swedish so I can focus on Finnish. (There are no similarities in the two languages. Finnish may be closer to Japanese than Swedish, but as you could tell, it's not even close to Japanese (: )

    Kiasma _HAS_ had demoscene presentations! One night, during the "night of the arts" in Helsinki (which is a yearly event, I understand) we showed demos for 5 or 6 hours on the side of Kiasma. I seem to recall there being some other presentations and similar - at one point, Syphus/Up Rough was there for a presentation with some people he used to work with, which was a combination of "make music with electronic things" and "make art with electronic things." It's been a few years, though.

    1. Yeah, it was lovely to see those berry and peas stand everywhere! And yes, some Finnish words were very similar to Japanese but totally different meaning.. I kept looking back when someone said "tottakai". I learnt this means "Of course" but this sound is really close to Japanese "hontokai?" which means "Is that true?" (and Tottakai in Japanese means "did you get it?" :)

      Ahhh, Kiasma demoscene night must have been super nice! But not just for one night, I hope they consider having inside exhibition or include some in their permanent installation... (I'm dead serious)

    2. It isn't without possibility. There have been other exhibitions, and perhaps not just at Kiasma, but other Finnish museums.

      I'd have to check with Nosfe, he pays more attention the the comings and goings of exhibitions.

    3. That's nice :) Well, I just thought, as one of their visitors, it's no strange to find demoscene demo in Kiasma because they got some digital art screen, and they already have kewlers:

    4. Guess what's happening monday? (:


      (You don't have to log in, I don't use Facebook anymore and I checked and you can see it without logging in.)

      So, it's happening again - Monday (: Maybe I'll get pictures. The sun now goes down earlier - at 22:00 the sun is no longer up, and it's quite dark at 21:30 .

    5. Oh wow! :D (thanks I could see the page! I'm non-FB user too :) that's a cool way to enjoy the end of summer! If you go, have fun fun fun :)


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