After taking the bus into Helsinki we decided to walk towards the Finlandia Hall and take a stroll around the Töölö lakeside. On a sunny day there’s no better place to be, walking through this urban park in the city centre. There’s a double width path to accommodate both cyclists and walkers / joggers without getting in each other’s way. It’s such a peaceful spot, watching the swans and geese on the water and taking in the views of the beautiful old wooden villas nestled between the trees on the far bank. Along the way, several waterside cafes look inviting and for the more energetic one can now go for a paddle on one of those ‘Stand Up Paddle’ boats that are appearing all over the place, known as SUP Stations. The Linnanmäki Amusement Park that we visited a few days ago can also be seen in the far left of the photo below.
At the far end of the lake we made a slight detour and crossed the busy road to visit the Helsinki City Winter Garden. Stepping into the Rose Garden, the blooms were at their best and the sweet scent from the blossom filled the air as we wandered towards the glasshouse at the top of the garden.
The above photo shows a view looking towards the Töölö Lake, the pots are filled with some delightful blue Agapanthus which look really exotic. The beautiful old glasshouse (feature photo above) which was built in 1893 contains over 200 specimen plants, cacti and succulents arranged in three adjoining rooms. The camellias were stunning and a sign informed us that they were more than one hundred years old and the oldest surviving plants in the Winter Garden.Out on the terrace visitors can enjoy light refreshments overlooking the Rose Garden and the lake beyond but the cafe had not yet opened when we visited mid morning. Upon leaving the gardens we returned to the lake side once again and completed our walk along the far bank. Along this stretch of the path there is a well equipped outdoor adult gym but we decided that walking was good enough exercise for us so we continued on our way.
Walking up a steep incline we came to the Blue Villa and a delightful little cafe we like to visit called Sinisen Huvilan Kahvila. Here you can buy drinks and snacks from the little blue kiosk. We always select coffee and korvapuusti (cinnamon buns) as they are delicious. Sitting on the terrace of this cafe you can enjoy some stunning views across the lake to the Opera House and Finlandia Hall, a congress and exhibition venue designed by Alvar Aalto.Coffee break over, we then completed our circuit of Töölönlahti bay and returning to the other bank we decided to visit another part of the City of Helsinki Museum which was close by. This attractive, dusty pink building is Hakasalmi Villa and until the end of February 2017 is hosting an exhibition entitled ‘Music – Echoes from the past of a city’ Musiikkia.
The music galleries provide glimpses of the different styles of music over the years, the various displays taking visitors on a nostalgic trip from yesteryear to the present time. I adored the ‘Songs from School’ section and despite being English noticed similarities to my childhood such as recorder lessons, school assembly concerts and so forth. There were some interactive displays which allowed you to test your nerves whilst taking a school singing test (I remember it all too well!). We listened to church music from the arched roof of a chapel, heavy metal Finnish Eurovision Winners ‘Lordi’ and to the beats of a basement band down some cellar steps.
My favourite section was Dance Hall Music. Behind a black curtain we found a small dance floor with a life size screen on the stage. Visitors could select their own style of dance music from Waltz to Hip-Hop, learn the steps by following the interactive screen then dance along to the music. There were 8 dancing styles to choose from and I selected the Charleston as I love watching this dance being performed. There was no-one else around so I followed the steps and then tried to dance along to the music. It was fun, but the dance is quite fast so it was hard trying to follow the actions and to keep pace with the video so I replayed it a couple of times!
After all this dancing we were ready to eat so we returned to our Espoo apartment for a light lunch on our balcony overlooking the bay. Later in the day my son and I looked around the stores at Iso Omena shopping centre in Matinkylä where you can find branches of Marimekko, Pentik and Iittala stocking some lovely Finnish designs.