Helsinki does a good job at keeping people entertained.

After all, if they didn’t, we would all go crazy. And start swimming in ice holes and sit naked in hot sweaty rooms.
Oh wait…

Every week, there seems to be another city-wide event going on. For example, on Sunday, Jimmy and I went out for a stroll and a few errands and happened upon “Restaurant Day” along the boulevard Esplanade.

We really had no idea what was happening, but we followed the smell of food trucks and ended up in the middle of it. Freezing cold people in lines to get their hands on little tasters from random trucks. In truth, most of them were not restaurants; you can literally make kebabs or cupcakes or whatever and bring a table and sell them. I love this because it would never happen in the States. Someone may get sick from knowingly eating something off of a food cart and then sew the city or the little girl in pig tails for it.
Our favorite thing that we tried- an Asian pulled pork sandwich- came with a business card that included a personal phone and email that you can reach if you want them to bring you food. No official business, let alone a brick and mortar store. Just food delivery.

 But it is random stuff like this that makes Helsinki a really cool city. They understand that the winter is rough, so they do their best to keep you happy.

Speaking of random/ awesome stuff, I was invited to a gallery open the other week. There are dozens -perhaps hundreds- of tiny art galleries around Helsinki, housing collections of illustrations, sculpture, photography, installations- you name it.

About a month after moving, I was put in contact with Jouni Kaipia, a Helsinki based architect/photographer/all around designer. He is a good friend of one of my college mentors and was a guest faculty member at the College of Architecture at my university the same year I started.

I met him at his small, quirky studio in the city, filled with books on design and art, every surface covered with artifacts from his travels and trace paper with sketches and photographs. We chatted about everything from art to architectural practice, to travel and food. We share a propensity to collect beautiful books; as I have left mine at home, I told him I may have to steal his.  Jouni is as humble and soft spoken as he is talented-and does not seem to take himself too seriously. He seems to take a genuine curiosity in all things, and speaks plainly and intelligently about them, without pretension or arrogance. He no longer formally practices architecture, but instead designs small installations and travels- mainly in southeastern Asia- with a camera in hand.

The gallery opening that I was invited to was showing some photography from his travels. The underlying theme of the series of photographs was that each one featured people sitting -in chairs, on steps, in doorways, etc. The idea was that we create space simply by occupying it. Almost none of the photos were taken in a traditional walled enclosure, but rather in ordinary -or extraordinary- spaces, that became a place by being inhabited.

What was so amazing (and back to the point of being random and awesome) about his display was that it was inside a used book store (that happens to be just down the street). Stacks of old books in every language are precariously perched in front of, next to, and under his photographs. Even better, the work is displayed in the design/ photography section of the store. Its fantastic.

 The initial opening was ridiculously crowded, so Jimmy and I did not stay long. However, I went back yesterday to spend more time with both the photographs and the books (and found too many that I want for my collection!) and really enjoyed myself. There was another exhibit or striking portraits displayed in the cellar of the same building.

 Also, I stumbled out of the Baltic wind and into a darling cafe the other day. I went back yesterday for a chai latte and a croissant while I waited out some building maintenance that shut off our water. It is quite, staffed by really nice girls, bright and happy. And they have amazing looking pastries. They have a back room with palettes topped with pillows, a kids area and even slippers available, if you would like to really settle in.


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