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A Portrait of Helsinki in Winter

Helsinki from above

Steve’s beard is made of ice and the snow is dancing to the shape of the wind. We smile, enchanted by the magic of winter.

We’re arrived to the first snowfall of the season, the Finns delighting in relief from the darkness. It was a black Christmas in Helsinki, a rare and unwelcome occurrence. Winter suits this city. It lights the streets and makes a playground of nature. Its sea, lakes and rivers harden for the skaters, the hills become toboggan slopes and the intrepid bring out their skis.

Snow stops London. It invigorates Helsinki. Planes land, buses run, and children travel to school. “You came at the right time” say the locals. “There’s only one thing that Finns complain about in weather, and that is darkness. We love the snow.”

And we love it too. We try our hand at curling, we dance the tango on a frozen stage, and smash plates of ice with childlike glee. When you look towards the sun in a snowy landscape, flecks of glitter dart before your eyes — fairy dust for the imagination. Everything sparkles.

And when your fingers freeze beyond delight and your cheeks reach their rosy peak, you step inside, you drink some glüg and indulge in warm cinnamon buns.

Transitions are this city’s specialty. From dark winters to nightless summers, from -30 to 30 degrees. Just like its people who run from the sauna to the ice of the sea, Helsinki’s comfortable in the extremes.

Helsinki, we’re in love.

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Comments

  1. says

    Beautiful. A friend of mine was just in Helsinki over New Year and said it was miserable without snow, and that everyone was complaining. Sounds lovely as you experienced it. I don’t think I could deal with all the dark, though.
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    • Victoria says

      Thank you! Sorry I didn’t get to meet you too. I’m pretty sure I’ll be back again though. I want to see the city in summer!

  2. says

    Lovely read and another imaginary side trip to winter wonderland! The snow seems to make your inspiration glow… Or is it the cinnamon buns?? ;)

    • Victoria says

      Hmm, I’m not sure. Perhaps both. Snow and cinnamon buns are a pretty awesome combination! Pleased you enjoyed it :)

      • says

        Btw Victoria, almost inevitably I had to think of your Helsinki post when I stumbled across following video:
        http://vimeo.com/85037704
        I think the “visual poetry” matches quite well the one in your post – even though it might be scenes from a different “winter wonderland”… Maybe also something for the next “dose of inspiration”…!? :)

  3. says

    Love this! The writing was so light and lovely and made me feel like I was right there experiencing the magic alongside you. I never would have thought that a visit to Finland in the winter would be anything other than drudgery, but you’ve convinced me otherwise. I hate the thought of endless nighttime skies, but I suppose that balances out the days when all is full of sunlight. Sounds like you had a blast!

    • Victoria says

      Excellent! I’m pleased I’ve helped you realise that Helsinki is far from full of drudgery. The snow is like a winter sun. It’s gorgeous. And thanks for the compliments on my writing :)

  4. says

    You make my hometown sound so magical – so beautiful. Sadly I didn’t get to meet you guys, though I think we were at the same events last week. I’m glad you enjoyed it though!

    • Victoria says

      Thanks Carmen. Yes, I’d love to go there in summer too. There’s loads of parkland so I imagine it would be beautiful.

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