The last two weeks have been spent in my childhood home of Helsinki. I come here every summer to spend time with my family, and to check out whats new in town. This time, I did not check out so much new, but rather revisited the old. I took long walks with my camera, and tried to capture some memories from childhood hangouts. One day I even had the pleasure of taking a photowalk with my mentor Tuulia. She has taken me from completely automatic to 100% manual photography within a matter of hours. I always learn something revolutionary about my camera when I am with her. For this week, I thought of combining a bit of tourist tips with my pictures – places in my childhood neighborhood of Töölö that I think are worth a visit.
I grew up in Töölö, close to the city center. Its a quiet neighborhood, with lots of old buildings and some fun landmarks. There are a many bars and restaurants that have remained the same for a long time, so it kind of feels like time has stood still. Perhaps locals are very loyal.
I can start from the best known site, the Sibelius monument. The monument its self is very touristic. Buses filled with tourists from Asia, Russia and Europe stop here to admire the steel structure that somehow resembles an organ. We just quickly passes by, took a few photos and headed onward to Cafe Regatta just a stone throw away. That’s the real attraction: a small red cottage with a cafe, that serves some of the best cinnamon buns in town, and you get money back when you go and get a second round of coffee. The tourists don’t have time to come here (before the buses move on), but its very popular among the locals. Its open almost every day of the year with outdoor seating and an open fire for frying sausages. Regatta is good in the summer, but I actually enjoy it the most in the winter. There is nothing like sitting on the terrace on a crispy winter day with a hot cup of coffee and a cinnamon bun.
If you are into architecture, then you should also make a stop at the Töölö library. Its a beautiful building representing a very Finnish modernist style of building. The library was under renovation from 2014 to 2016, and is now in a fresh shape.
Another interesting spot in Töölö is Korjaamo, which is an old tram-hub turned to a cultural oasis. The building complex has restaurants, a theater, a movie theater and an old tram-museum, which is quite a fun place to visit. They also arrange flea markets and other events to draw in the local crowd. In the summer, the inner yard is like a garden. This is a perfect place for some grilled food and drinks on a sunny day.
Last but not least, you should make your way to Töölön tori (Töölö market). Its an outdoor market with vegetables, fruits and berries (I didn’t get any good photo of it). Around the market there are some good cafes and restaurants that have been around for ages. Seriously, for all of my life. Tin Tin Tango is a retro cafe with sandwiches and pastries. It used to be the hangout of many artists and politicians (the parliament house is quite close). Today Tin Tin Tango have some nice breakfast packages, and you can even have a decent glass of Jean Vesselle champagne for 10 euros. They have a washing machine in the back, so if you are a traveler, you can do you laundry while you are having your coffee. Another veteran of Töölön tori is Mamma Rosa. This is a perfect place for some traditional restaurant dishes as well as some good pizzas. A few blocks away is also restaurant Elite, which has been there forever. Since 1932 actually. I used to dream about sitting on their terrace when I was a kid. Back then, we maybe visited a restaurant once a year.