The last 5 days I’ve was in Spain, mostly very involved in the wedding celebrations of my boyfriend’s little brother. This was the first time I attended a wedding abroad – or anywhere for many years, as my friends here in Finland don’t seem established or at least willing to get married… or if someone does, they do it in secret or in a humble way.
Well, this Spanish wedding was anything but small and humble. What mostly struck me was the amazing amount of food we were offered – all the time. Anyway, more about this experience later as now I’m back in Helsinki. And at work, unfortunately. However, you always appreciate what you have at home more when you go away – even if only for 5 days.
When we returned to Helsinki-Vantaa airport last night at 11pm, the sun was still up, the green of the trees had got a deeper tone and I felt that finally summer is about to arrive here in the North. So far it’s been cold and rainy, and I’ve been feeling a bit down – no wonder, as we Finns spend all those cold months waiting for the summer to come and when it doesn’t arrive the way it should, well, that’s just depressing. A couple of days ago in Sweden the temperature went even lower than during last Christmas Eve. No, no, no.
But now there is hope. Today we had lunch outside with my colleagues (even if the wind was chilly) and after work we went with my boyfriend to enjoy an ice cream by the sea in Kaivopuisto. That was OK too, if you avoided the cold shadows.
The most positive surprise of today was Baana, a big recreational zone and bicycle route opened yeasterday. It’s built on an old abandoned railway track that crosses the centre of Helsinki, which gives the place a special touch.
I feel Baana is the best thing the city of Helsinki has created for its people in a long time! Today I got even emotional as I saw Baana filled with people enjoying the sun and the new facilities with their bikes or playing petanque, ping pong or basketball, practicing their long board skills or having a picnic. Thank you, Helsinki!
Luckily Baana is not the only example of a new “more open and human Helsinki” that I feel is slowly surging out there… Thanks to many active citizens who have created projects such as the delicious Restaurant Day or the popular Urban Agriculture project (kaupunkiviljely) started up by an organisation called Dodo. For me, this new Helsinki means inclusive, free and creative things that make our city a better place to live. The most important thing is to create the feeling of ownership and offer some free space to the people – after that anything is possible.