Dancing in the Shadows – at Annantalo

I’ve walked past Annantalo so many times and never stopped to wonder what it is. Turns out – it’s great is what it is!

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Annantalo is an arts centre for children and young people, housed in a beautiful old school that was built in 1886. Miko and I recently visited with friends on a rainy afternoon after daycare.

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On the ground floor is the large Kirja Kahvila (book cafe) with loads of space for families and smaller tables set up with paper and colouring pencils. There’s also shelves full of childrens’ books, printed in Finnish and Swedish.

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The cafe is also home to Tutti-tukaani (Pacifier Toucan) who sits atop a large bottle where children put their pacifiers when the time comes to give them up. The idea is based loosely on similar traditions in Finland and was dreamed up by the Office Manager.

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The cafe is run by a lovely woman called Krista, who told me she loves all the handmade touches around Annantalo.

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This includes the warm korvapuustit (cinammon buns) and the woollen covers on the tea glasses.

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Upstairs in the building, there are art classes, as well as dance and theatre for young people. Miko’s daycare has visited in the past to watch a puppet show, which he still talks about.

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There are also exhibitions for children, which are really creative and interactive. Miko loved going inside a big teepee and looking at tiny worlds inside boxes with a torch during the last one.

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Although the cafe is family focussed it can be very quiet at times and there’s lots of space to spread out if you need to work. With wheelchair access it’s a great place for anyone to visit, young and old alike.

Annantalo – events and courses

Annankatu 30, Helsinki

Due to a bad dose of the flu there were no Vappu celebrations for me this year. The spring carnival on May Day is one of the biggest events on the Finnish calendar. You can read my post from last year here

Excuse me, do I work here?

New Zealanders love a good DIY ( Do It Yourself ) attitude – build your own fence, concrete your own driveway…but Finns bring it into the everyday as at most cafes you’ll find it’s DIY dishes.

You don’t actually have to wash them but there’s usually a place for you to scrape your dishes, stack them and sort the rubbish from the recycling.

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Having grown up with school lunches provided I’d say most Finnish adults are used to this and probably do it without thinking.

It’s great actually – it means the tables are cleared before you sit down, even when the staff are busy.

Used dishes stand & bin at Fafa's

Used dishes stand & rubbish bin at Fafa’s

At Cafe Regatta there are a couple of places for customers to stack their used dishes. You can also have free coffee refills and you get 5c back each time you refill your cup….*

So if times were tough and you were really desperate, you’d probably only have to drink 45 cups of coffee before you started to make your money back and started getting paid to stack that one dirty cup.

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Cafe Regatta

 *the beauty of this is no one wants a 5c piece in their wallet so they tend to go straight into the tips jar