Now & Then – Töölönlahti

It’s easy to miss home at this time of year. Christmas for us signals the start of summer holidays – long hours of sunshine, songbirds, swimming and sand.

One thing about living in Finland however is the intensity of each season. It’s good for me to remember that winter here can be beautiful …. and it’s not forever.

One place this is evident is Töölönlahti – it’s a great bay to walk around and witness the incredible changes as they take place.

9th October 2014

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2 December 2014 – starting to freeze

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Ducks on ice

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4th January 2015 – frozen

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7th January 2015

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23rd January 2015

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And something to look forward to! Same place, different day (taken 3rd August 2014)

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Baby it’s cold outside

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Port of Helsinki, 29th December 2014, -18° celcius (-0.4° F)

I know what cold is. Or so I thought. Once when I was young we left our goldfish bowl outside (long story) and it froze over. The goldfish survived but I have been living off this story for years to show how hardy I am.

The Baltic Sea starting to freeze

The Baltic Sea starting to freeze

 

And I’ve lived in cold houses. One year I went around declaring that I was experiencing ‘the winter of my discontent’. Which is a bit over the top seen it never dropped below 9° celcius (48°F) during the day.

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Port of Helsinki, 29 December 2014, -18° celcius (-0.4° F)

But to quote the great poet Phil Collins – take a look at me now! Baby it is cold outside and I am in it! In fact it’s too warm now because anything above zero means the snow melts and then refreezes, making everything slushy and slippery.

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Low maintenance garden, 23rd December 2014

I’m often reminded how easy we have it too when I see elderly people making their way about with walking-frames in the snow. The other day I had to help a woman who was struggling to make any progress as her wheelchair was stuck in heavy slush.

The Bana - December 2014

The Bana – 23rd December 2014

My biggest inconvenience is getting cold fingers while I take photos and then having my phone battery die within ten minutes because it can’t handle sub-zero temperatures.

Christmas Day in Lappeenranta, around -15° celcius (5° F)

Not much to complain about really when I’ve finally started to see the beauty that is around us in the colder months.

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Christmas Day, Lappeenranta, about -15 celcius (5° F)

The sunlight when we have it creates a kind of golden glitter in the air and the snow on the ground sparkles as though it’s mixed with granulated sugar.

The only way to get around

The only way to get around

It’s a warm 2° celcius (35°F)  today and I’m really hoping the temperature will drop so we can witness the lakes and sea in full frozen glory.

Sunset reflected on Töölönlahti, 7 January 2015 (-2 celcius, wind chill -8)

Sunset reflected on semi-frozen Töölönlahti, 7 January 2015, -2° celcius, wind chill -8° (28°F)

Because, I’m like, you know, really good at this cold thing and I’m finding for once I’m having a winter where I am quite content. But, to quote another famous poet (Randy Bachman), I actually ‘ain’t seen nothing yet’.

Twice Around the Lake

All this lying on the beach lately is good for my Vitamin D but I’m starting to feel like I’ve had too much Vitamin F, A and T. So last Sunday morning I got up  and went for a walk around Töölonlahti (Töölö Bay).

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Set amongst the trees is an easy walking path that winds around the lake for 2.2km. Soon after heading out I came across Kahvila Tyyni, right on the water’s edge.

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This rustic cafe had problems last year after complaints were made about its electrical cords stretching across the path. After a series of negotiations a small victory was won and with the backing of the local community the cafe is open again this summer.

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 Filter coffee seems quite popular here and at Kahvila Tyyni there are free refills – as if you need any incentive to stay, sit and just enjoy the view.

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As I walked on I saw many people out jogging or walking. I still love to see Finns just sitting, smiling with their faces lifted to the sun. A group of paddle-boarders launched themselves out onto the water as I rounded the northern end of the bay.

IMG_1663Amongst the trees on the far side from Kahvila Tyyni is Linnunlaulu, home to a series of villas built 120 years ago. One of the villas now functions as a writer’s centre and some have saunas in the garden and their own private jetty.

IMG_1665Nestled amongst them is Café Sininen Huvila (Blue Villa). As well as coffee they sell Finnish juices made from blackcurrant, raspberry and lingonberry.

This week there’s a Cultural Walk on that takes in Töölönlahti and beyond, covering many of Helsinki’s best sights. I highly recommend checking out the map here just to get a feel for how close this bay is to many of Helsinki’s best attractions.

IMG_1634I had such a good time on my walk I went around again before meeting up with the boys for a few Sunday chores. Luckily I hadn’t indulged in any sweet treats on my stop or this post would have to be retitled Four Times Around the Lake at a Brisk Pace.