Shop till you drop PART II

College finals… Oh, I wish they would go by super fast,  so I wouldn’t have to do all of this studying which is almost making me go crazy.. I had THREE exams this week!! Only two more are left and then I can start thinking about my one day trip to Berlin!

Like I promised in my other post, this post will be about shopping in HELSINKI! I did a little research and all you have to do is read to find out where to shop and what to buy in Helsinki.

Textiles, ceramics and glass products are one of the best things to buy while in Finland. Leather goods are also of high quality. If you are interested in ceramics, one of the most renowned ceramics producers in Finland is Arabia. The Esplanade in Helsinki has shops selling these quality brands.  But if you’re poor, don’t even think about going there because you are sure to find something great but in the end you’ll realize that your while can’t make your dream come true… 😦 I guess I’m skipping this street or I’ll be having bad dreams about some beautiful vase…

We all now women love jewelry so if any of you guys are planning on going to Finland soon, be on the look out for Kalevala jewelry!! Your lady will fall in love all over again with the man of her dreams 🙂

One of the best places to go shopping is the at the Design District (in Helsinki) which is not far from the city’s main train station. It has some of the best fashion stores and you can find many top-name designers there.

It would actually be a good idea to buy sauna stuff in Finland, because Finland is home to the very well known Finnish sauna.

According to most Finns, “Kampi” is “THE shopping place in Helsinki”. You can find anything you need here! (http://www.kamppi.fi/)

The most important thing to know, is that F’inland, like all other Scandinavian countries, is very  expensive to be in. So shopping might not be a good idea..

Some interesting information: citizens of non-EU countries are eligible for tax-free returns. Purchases must be made in shops displaying the tax free sign. The minimum total sum of purchased goods must be 40 euros. Upon leaving EU territory, travelers can claim VAT that varies according to product but does not exceed 16%.

Taste the Culture of Finland

Time to taste a little bit of Finland!! Since I’ll only be one day in the beautiful city Helsinki, I have to choose what I really really want to try.
In the western part of Finland, fish and meat play a big role in daily meals, while various vegetables and mushrooms (i love mushrooms 🙂 ) have been traditionally included in dishes in the eastern part of Finland. The most popular meats in Finland are pork (same as Estonia!), beef and chicken. 

  • Lihapullat- Finnish meatballs, often with gravy sauce
Lihapullat

  • Palvikinkku and Palviliha- smoked ham or beef

Since Finland has many lakes (nearly 200 000 of them!), Finns have many opportunities to go fishing. Salmon is a popular choice and dishes that include salmon are:

  • Kylmäsavustettu lohi (cold smoked salmon). The salmon is cut into very thin pieces and served with olive oil, shallots or onions, asparagus, fresh herbs and different kinds of salads
Kylmasavustettu

  • Graavilohi. It is a Nordic dish consisting of raw salmon, cured in salt, sugar and dill. It is usually served on bread.
Graavilohi

Finns prepare fish in all kinds of ways: frying, boiling, drying, salting… A common dish among the Swedish-speaking population is smoked herring (“Savusilli” in Finish). I actually see these a lot in supermarkets in Lithuania. They also enjoy pickled herring, which is a common appetizer and usually served around Midsummer accompanied by uusiperuna– small potatoes. Whitefish, vendace roe and crayfish are Finnish delicacies. Whitefish and vendace ore are usually served on blinis or toast. Crayfish is more popular among the Swedish-speaking population and is usually eaten at parties. 

Savusilli
Uusiperuna







Other typical Finnish dishes:

  • Kaalikaaryleet– cabbage rolls
Kaalikaaryleet

  • Hernekeitto– pea soup, usually served on Thursday along with a dessert pancake
  • Viili– a type of yogurt (I’m definitely buying this! I love yogurts!)



Breads are a staple of the Finnish diet, especially rye bread. Breads are eaten with every meal. There are many types of Finnish bread:Rye: Limppu (it’s actually common in upper peninsula of Michigan), Reikäleipä, Ruispala (I have actually eaten this before and it is delicious), Jälkiuunileipä, Näkkileipä (rye breads dried into crisps). 

Reikaleipa
Ruispala


Wheat (this flour is mainly used for baking pastry, scones): Pulla (sweet Finnish sweet roll), Karelian Pie (small bread made of potato dough originally from Karelia in Eastern Finland), Vesirinkeli– they resemble bagels.

Pulla
Karelian Pie


Korppu (rusk)Rieska– barley based flat breads, which are similar to crispbreads. They are often served warm and buttered and consumed with milk. The most common kinds of rieska are: Perunarieska (potatoe rieska), Ohrarieska (barley rieska), Ruisrieska (rye rieska), Maitorieska (mil rieska).Crisp cracker bread is actually very popular (Finn Crisps). I found them at the supermarket recently and loved them so much! 




Ok..after you have had all of these breads, you need to wash it down with something. What should you choose in Finland:

  • Water
  • Milk- most Finns drink a lot of milk so it’s not uncommon to have it with your meal
  • Buttermilk
  • Coffee- it is often drunk several times a day. And Finns drink more coffee than anyone else in the whole world! Great place for coffee lovers. There are actually a lot of people who drink 8 or more cups of coffee a day…
  • Kisseli- same as in Estonia!! It’s served a s a dessert or a drink.

How about during a party or a club? Try:

  • Sima (mead). It is usually accompanied by munkki (a donut), tippaleipa (fennel cake)or rosetti (a rosette). Ingredients include lemon, active dry yeast, sugar and raisins.
  • Sahiti– a traditional beer made from a variety of grains including barley, rye, wheat and oats. It has a distinct banana flavor.
Sahiti
  • Kilju (sugar wine)- made from sugar, yeast and water. It is most found at student parties and in the Finnish punk subculture. 
  • Koskenkorova Viina– most common clear spirit drink. It;s just like vodka.
  • Jaloviina– liquor made of brandy neutral grain spirit and water. Sometimes sugar is added to soften the taste.
  • Finlandia Vodka– I have actually seen these at stores! I think I might have tasted some of it. It;s available in pure form or it could be flavored. I tasted the raspberry kind and it was nice 😀
  • If anyone is interested in something stronger, Marskin ryyppy, is for you. It is very strong and is served as a shot. It is important that the glass is poured as full as possible and be emptied without spilling. It must be served ice cold.
  • Mulled wine– usually red wine mixed with spices and served hot or warm. It is traditional during winter.

I have a major sweet tooth, so the first thing I would do is go to a bakery and buy a  Runebergintorttu!! It’s a pastry with almonds, rum or arrack and usually weighs about 100 grams. They are eaten only in Finland and are unfortunately generally available from the beginning of January to February 5…  Well, I guess I won’t be able to taste this so I’ll have to come back in the winter. But what I’m excited about, is that the company “Fazer” is one of the largest corporations in the Finnish food industry. They produce really good chocolate! The Karl Fazer Cafe is still the same adress in Helsinki- Kluuvikatu 3. I am so going!!!

Runebergintorttu



If any of you really love pizza, head to Kotipizza. It’s a Finnish pizza chain, that won the 2008 America’s Plate International pizza contest.

Finland has such interesting dishes to choose from, I’ll have trouble choosing! 

Back in Time

Plenty of research has to be done before I am really ready to go to Tallinn and Helsinki this summer. Everybody knows, that these countries are close. No no, I’m not talking about distance. I’m talking about their similarities: same national anthem, currency and history (Swedish domination, then Russian, then independence after World War I). The reason I’m taking interest in this, is because it will be so much easier for me to understand and point out to everybody, that if planning on visiting one of these cities, definitely visit the other. It’s also interesting to see if they really are as similar as history tells… that’s what I’m going to find out…


What really caught my eye, when I was reading about these two cities, is that “in spite of its Swedish roots, old Helsinki feels Russian.” It’s because Helsinki was remodeled to look like St. Petersburg after the Russians took over Finland in 1809. If any of you have seen the movies Dr.Zhivago or Gorky Park, they are actually filmed in Helsinki because filming wasn’t allowed in Russia during the Cold War… Interesting…

St. Petersburg

Tallinn, as well as the other Baltic country ports, is in a very strategic location: between Russia and Western Europe. This is very interesting: according to BBC Travel, Tallinn was also the center for espionage during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Most of the spying was happening at the Hotel Viru (many of the hotel rooms were bugged and monitored from a secret office on the 23rd floor. It is now a museum).

Hotel Viru

After reading this, it seems that Helsinki and Tallinn are similar to Russia. And since they are both similar to Russia, they are similar to each other. That’s how I understand this after reading everything. 


Tallinn has the famous Kadriorg Palace, which was completed in 1718. It was built on the order of Russian Tsar Peter the Great. And in the Kadriorg Park, Peter the Great’s cottage still stands. It is now a museum.

St. Olaf’s Church

And one other interesting thing: St. Olaf’s church is the tallest building in the city. What you may not know, is that the church held an important radio and television signal jamming station. The Soviet agents used this to block Finnish and Swedish signals from reaching Estonia’s citizens.

I am really happy I found all of this information. It will be really interesting to visit these cities and see for myself whether Helsinki and Tallinn are actually similar to each other or not based on history.


I was done with this post, but I came upon one other interesting thing!! Not only does Tallinn, Helsinki and Russia share history, but Tallinn has a part of Denmark’s history. It is said, that Denmark’s flag originated in Tallinn. According to the legend, it floated down from the heavens during the Dane’s battle to conquer Toompea Hill in 1219. The park is now called “Danish King’s Garden”. 


All of this is so interesting, that I just want to go and visit Tallinn and Helsinki now!! I can’t wait!

And the research begins!

I am so excited about summer vacation! I can’t wait to finally put all of my books and journals away and start to enjoy the warm weather and all my free time that I will have.

Tallinn

Like every traveler, I always do a lot of research on the place I am going to. It’s not just for the purpose that I won’t need a guide, it’s because it’s also one of my favorite parts of getting ready for travelling. I find out such cool stuff about a city, country or monument. It’s probably in my blood. That’s why I chose to study international business of tourism.

You already know, that I’m searching for information about Tallinn. But guess what I found?!

Helsinki

Because of the cheap bus tickets to Tallinn, I decided that I can visit another city. And that city is HELSINKI. A ferry goes from Tallinn to Helsinki in about 2hrs! And it’s not that expensive as I thought it would be! It would cost about 40 Euros ( about 52 USD) for one person depending on the time you choose to go. It could be even cheaper, as low as 36 Euros (46 USD) without choosing any of the facilities, like buffet dining, dinner coupons or pet cages. I am going to go early morning from Tallinn and leave Helsinki in the evening. I think one full day is enough to get a feel of the city. This will be my first time in Helsinki!!

Here is the online booking site for the ferry: https://netshop2.tallink.com/iki/do/booking/search

I found great sights to see in Tallinn. But I’m not quite done with my search yet.