Category: Helsinki

Weekly Photo Challenge – Curve

Weekly photo challenge is a new exercise in improving my photography skills and imagination. Every week I’ll be posting photos in response to a prompt. Let’s see where this challenge takes me 🙂

This week’s prompt is curve. I think it’s in human nature to prefer and to chose simple things over complicated. Same goes for photography. Straight lines are easy to spot and to capture. Curves are trickier. They take more space, they tend to look different on the photo compare to how you see it in a real life. Also, they are much more fun to deal with 🙂

The first curve photo is from Helsinki, Finland. A lot of old houses in Helsinki have a name. This one is from Tehtaankatu, and its name is Koivu, which means a birch tree. It was built in 1904, and designed by Paul Björk.


And the second curve is from Rio de Janeiro. We were on our way to the top of the mountain and about to see the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer, while breathtaking views opened on the left and on the right. It’s hard to not go full crazy and start taking photos of everything you see 🙂


Sea Horse – a Local Establishment

I can’t tell you how many times I was planning to write a post about Sea Horse, but there were so many questions to address that I’d always postpone it. For example, what shall I call it? A restaurant serving traditional Finnish food? A place with a long history? A destination in the Japanese guidebooks on Helsinki? Would that be enough? I decided the best way to deal with this challenge is to share with you the Sea Horse’s story. I hope this way you’ll get a very good picture of what kind of place it is 🙂


The restaurant opened in 1934, and changed a couple of owners before it became famous in 1959. This was the time when Mrs. Paukku and her husband bought this place. They updated the menu and attracted new customers, among which were many artists as Mrs. Paukku was a patron of the arts. There are a lot of legendary stories surrounding her “ruling”. According to one of them, Mrs. Paukku cooked a home-made mustard for the restaurant and for the customers. “She lowered a bucket full of mustard to the kitchen window for customers to buy it to their homes. The same method was used after every business day. The cash of the day went up with her bucket every night.”

After Mrs. Paukku retired in 1988, the restaurant was sold. There were good times and bad times, but every time the place managed to survive and continue to stay in business.

“Leave the title to the doorman”

This famous motto comes from Mrs. Paukku. She believed that all clients should be treated the same way, no matter what rank or position in the society they have. This approach is the cornerstone of the restaurant’s philosophy in present days too. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do and where you came from. You will be treated as a customer, exactly the same way as others.

Also, there is actually a doorman. He works in the evening, and he handles the cloakroom charging for his service 2 euro. Sometimes I wonder if it’s really necessary, but it’s part of the tradition and the experience, I guess.


The interior is from 30s and it never really changed. In 2000s the restaurant has been renovated. Artist leaving in the same building, Kimmo Kaivanto, helped with fixing the painting and also designed and painted a new restaurant room, Black Horse Cabinet.

The painting of sea horses in the main room is what you see the minute you enter the restaurant. It’s not clear who painted it originally and there are quite many different stories offering possible explanations. Mystery surrounds this place.


Although the sea horses painting is quite beautiful, I think I could leave without pink lights in the windows. And fixing old lamps on the walls would also be nice. But many local customers prefer to see this place exactly the same way it has always been and don’t want any changes. It’s a matter of preferences.


Sea Horse serves traditional Finnish dishes: creamy salmon soup, potato hash brown skillet (pyttipanna), cabbage rolls (kaalikääryleet), and of course, famous baltic herrings – stakes or whole fish. As all portions are very big, my advice is to eat as little as possible on a day of the visit 🙂

I liked all the dishes I tried. Vorshcmak maybe is the only one where my expectations didn’t quite meet the reality. My favourite one is the salmon soup.

What do I think about the place 

It’s difficult to express:) I love the food, I hate the pink lights. I like the cozy atmosphere of the restaurant, but I’m not so excited when locals are having some extra drinks and being loud. Overall, this is not your average place to grab a dinner. It has a character and a story, and this is partly the reason why so many locals are loyal customers for decades and more.

Why “Helsinki Affair”?

I realized recently that I haven’t told you why my blog is called “Helsinki Affair”. It’s actually a pretty interesting story 🙂

When we just moved to Helsinki, I noticed that many houses have the memory plates, saying which famous person used to live there. In most cases, these are either writers or philosophers. It’s a very exciting exercise, by the way, to walk around the city reading these signs and picturing how this or that neighbourhood looked like at the time, when this person was still alive. For those, who have troubles imagining, there is an interactive map of Helsinki, where you can track how Helsinki has been changing.

But back to my story. Once I spotted a similar memory plate on the adjoining house. As I didn’t speak a word of Finnish at that time, I was only able to understand that someone called Mauri Sariola used to live there. I decided he was a painter, because his portrait was quiet artsy 🙂 See for yourself:


Later on with Markku’s help, I figured out that Mauri Sariola was a writer 🙂 I got interested, did some research and even managed to find one decent article about him in English.

What caught my attention is that Sariola studied law, but decided to abandon his studies. He worked for a bit at the law firm and at the bank. He also worked as a teacher at the elementary school. Later on, he became a reporter and wrote for Apu, Helsingin Sanomat and other newspapers and magazines. For 10 years Sariola was working as a crime reporter for Helsingin Sanomat, and after that he started his career as a writer.

He wrote over 80 books, most of which were crime and mystery novels. One of them, “The Helsinki Affair” (“Lavean tien laki” in Finnish), won the French literary prize Prix du Roman d’adventures. It’s a story about a young lawyer, Matti Viima, who investigates a mysterious case.

The book’s name captivated me. “Helsinki affair” was a perfect way to describe my feelings to the Finnish capital. I fall in love with it in a darkness and gloominess of November, when fallen leaves got slightly covered with a spider nets of ice and a sharp steeple of a nearby church pierced pearl grey clouds. After all, it was an affair of sorts 🙂

It was also a great motto for me reminding to keep looking for my way and to settle in a new life. As I wasn’t able to find this book in English, I decided to learn Finnish and read the original. Now, whenever I come back from language classes, I just look up at this plate and remember about my plan to read “The Helsinki Affair”. It gives me extra motivation and a strong desire to move forward. Hence, the blog name 🙂

Street Food Thursday Teurastamolla

Hi all! Summer is here (well, sort of…it’s the type of weather when Californians put on Uggs)! And it means that the number of festivals, markets and urban events in Helsinki increased drastically. Now more than ever it’s crucial to follow Visit Helsinki and Helsinki-Info magazine as they always have the best suggestions.

Out of all events I strongly recommend going to street food festivals. They always have different participants – it’s never the same! Small cafes, truck cafes, fancy restaurants, local and foreign, with various menus for all tastes. It’s a great experience!

Today was the Street Food Thursday at Teurastamo. Teurastamo used to be a slaughterhouse, but in 90s, as the city developed and more people moved to newly constructed apartment houses, all operations of the slaughterhouse stopped. Nowadays, it’s an open space area with restaurants, cafes and shops. For example, butcher shop (of course!) that also offers grilled dishes, Pasta Factory, B-Smokery, and Ho’s Food. Offices of some local businesses are also located here – Radio Helsinki, kitchen school and flavor laboratory Flavor Studio, Helsinki Distilling Company, to name a few.

This time there were only few participants, but the assortment was very good: Liesikiesi, Richard McCormick’s, Soi Soi Kasvisravintolat, Sandro and Bel Gaufres. DJs were playing music, and kids with parents were resting in hammocks. Pretty cozy and lazy back atmosphere 🙂

Line to Sandro was quite long, and we chose Liesikiesi. It had two options for burgers and a few extras. We went for a PigBoy slider – a perfect combo featuring pulled pork, cole slaw and fries with chipotle dip. Awesome!


After walking around a bit we saw an ice cream bar. OMG, this was so good! I have to come back for more! It’s called “Jädelino”. These guys make ice cream right there! It explains a heavenly fresh taste. There are 12 flavors, and it’s really hard to make a choice 🙂


All in all, it’s been a very good experience. Sun doesn’t come often to this part of the world, so these 3 months with extra long days and bright nights is a perfect time to get out and enjoy a vibrant city life 🙂