Saturday, November 29, 2014

winter sea kayak to Suomenlinnna

I previously held the view that sea kayaking in winter was an extreme hardship only suitable for pain-seeking people. I was wrong. I put on a magic suit: the dry suit and was ready for my first trip around Helsinki just after the first snow. Direction Suomenlinna! 
So first myth: I was not cold at all during the four hours on the water. Apart from that, the waterways are very quiet, the whole seaside feels sleepy. The first snow transformed completely the landscape and brought a lot of sought-after light in this month of November. The arrival in Suomenlinna had also a particular feeling, perfectly still water, wrapped up boats, everything seems to be waiting for the next summer. We enjoyed some pulla at the cafe of the museum and head back to the base through Länsisatama. Beautiful day!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Suomenlinna, 13 m/s, 4°C

Y a qu'à se poser toute au sud de l'île de Suomenlinna dans l'obscurité totale et écouter le vent siffler aux oreilles et les masses d'eau s'abattre sur le granite et on ressent la délicieuse impression d'être au bord d'une mer sans pitié, blindé de légendes et lourdes d'histoire.

Suomenlinna, 26.10.2014

Telliskivi, Tallinn

Get out of the bar or the cosy cafe, wander out of the medieval town, jump on a shrieking tram, pay the driver through the small hatch. Stop at the Russian market, go buy some salted mushroom from the babushkas. Resume walking and enter Telliskivi area. Old industrial area transformed into a creative space. Theatre, various stages, cafes, graffiti and industrial ruin landscape. What else?
Tallinn, 16.11.2014

Friday, October 17, 2014

The three faces of Helsinki.

No, Helsinki is not a post-apocalyptic city as some of my blog posts might suggest. 

For me, the city has three very different faces : the first one is the one described in the guide books. Beautiful, ultra clean, homogenous, rich, filled with history, lively and so on. You will find there fancy dining, design shops, historical buildings and international atmosphere. People dress up before going there.

The second one is where most people live, residential districts that have been carefully designed for a functional living. Often with very little inspiration. It is clean, the shops systematically to a national-wide chain, the local restaurant usually not attractive, there are a lot of green space. The style and architecture of these neighbourhoods are characteristic of the time of building and thus give a ready-made atmosphere. The main attraction is a local shopping mall, convenient for the harsh winter time. They are designed to offer standardize services that can keep you busy all day long making sure you spend money on the way. Everything belongs to national or international chains and very few shops are unique. Welcome to an uninspiring environment full of security guards. This kind of neighbourhood is actually what many people like, noiseless, convenient and safe. Urban planners seem to appreciate them, the shopping mall concept means that there is very little in the street for the police to deal with. Less cost.

The third one is my favourite. Non-functional, kind of abandoned places. Old industrial districts that wait for their new life. Where some creative happening seems to happen easily. Places undergoing metamorphosis, full of their past, pondering about the future. Graffiti artists might snake in, urban gardener might set there a few boxes, beginning designers or artists might have a chance to get some room there. And relax, there you are not constantly filmed by surveillance camera.

The winter is coming back, the temperature close to freezing and the light extremely vivid in the long lasting sunset. I wandered around Hernesaari in south Helsinki because the area is undergoing deep changes. A third of it is occupied by the icebreaker shipyard of Aker Artic (if somebody would take me for a tour there...), another third is occupied by unused sailboats and yachts and the last third is becoming fancy: park, café, sauna-spa complex. Welcome for a little tour.

 Disturbing, istn't it?

Fancy café, the wood walls are actually burned on the surface.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Is Helsinki the new Berlin?

And the summer is not over! Kalasatama is still full of people, graffiti artists, a group of Africans making music video and a small crowd at Ihana Kahvila. Let's enjoy a cup of coffee! 06.09.2014

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Saturday walk

Another walk between Arabianranta and Kalasatama to see what has changed since the winter.The place looks happy and lively in the summer, no more gloomy dark sceneries in the icy wind. It actualy became a recommendable place. A lot of mess has been cleaned and the rusting boats have rusted a bit more.

Any good reason not to build one's summer cottage on a boat and tour around the baltic during the summer season? Probably none thought this man posing proudly on his floating mökki.

The flea market at Suvilahti is still a major hipster event in the city. 12.07.2014

Saturday, June 21, 2014


While extremly tiny flat saunas are getting the norm for Helsinki new flats, the sauna culture might be loosing something. Tiny sauna means you won't be able to offer it to the whole family or to a bunch o friends visiting. Having the sauna in the flat prevent you to go in larger public ones, making it less social. And what about the perfect combination of sensation to alternate hot steam and cold bath in the sea?

Maybe it is with this in mind that the Sompasauna was put up in Kalasatama. A public, free, non-bookable, mixed sauna. Wood-fired and right by the sea with one of the finest urban landscapes in sight: Katajanokka and its fleet of icebreakers.

Where is it and how to use it:

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Kungsleden, Abisko-Nikkaluokta

Departure from Absiko with food for nine days, tent and warm sleeping bags. Florian and I packed all that stuff in our pulkas, and pulled them for 100 km to arrive to Nikkaluokta, nine days later. This stretch follows the Kungsleden, "the King's trail" in the mountains of northern Sweden. A well-marked trail, made safe by the presence of shelters about every 15 km. The landscapes are absolutely breathtaking, starting from typical low-altitude Lappish landscapes with fells and forest of dwarf birches to end up with more Alpine landscapes, with higher mountains, loads of snow. What makes it so particular is that we didn't see a road for nine days, neither a concrete buildings. No mobile phone coverage for most of it too. This was a dive in a universe of snow and frost, everything happening with the pace of skiers, meeting fellow hikers, and camping under bright stars. Mostly our only reference points were the rock giants always watching our slow skiing, teaching us humbleness. 1-9 March 2014