Sorry! Following on from part 1 and part 2 here some more about Helsinki. Just delete if you’re never going to go and you’re bored and I apologise about parts 4 and 5 in advance! Here’s a sculpture from outside a supermarket to amuse you in the meantime. It’s not quite Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate but its still pretty cool.
The Finns drink more coffee per capita than any other nation in the world. They also have significantly more heavy metal bands per capita than any other in the world but that’s another issue. As for the coffee, I spent 5 days in Helsinki heavily caffeinated at all time. I also slept excellently but I think I’m still a bit jittery.
Good Life Coffee was one Instagram/uber-cool blogger favourite that I totally got on board with. The best thing was that it was on the ground floor level of the apartment block we were staying in. Actually no, the best thing was the coffee. I usually go for a filter coffee where available – the Finns take as much care over this basic type than the fandangled espresso machined stuff. The coffee tends to be on the bitter side which can take me a bit of getting used to (with the help of some sweetener) and whilst this was no exception, it was delicious.
You know when something standard takes on a whole extra level of deliciousness just because it comes at exactly the right time? That filter coffee in the big picture came at the end of a very windy and slightly chilly walk to the beach. And it was amazing (and refillable). It turned out that not going home to grab our swimming costumes was a good call. Sad times for sunbathing but excellent times for coffee drinking and laughing at folk trying to play beach volleyball in near gale force winds!
The iced Mocha was from a tourist café near the central train station and to be honest needed more in the way of chocolate but was delicious nonetheless. The other image is of what might be the most homoerotic packet of ground coffee on the planet?
As I’ve just touched upon, the government has a monopoly on sale of alcohol over 4.7% in strength in their Alko stores which are quite abundant over the city but are not open after 8pm or on a Sunday. This means that any spirits, strong beer and cider and wine must be purchased here. The only other way is to buy in licensed premises which have on-licenses only. There is no cheap booze from Aldi to be had in Finland. Alcohol can be purchased by over 18s and spirits over 22%abv can only be bought by over 20s.
I’m obsessed with Gin Long Drink which I usually describe as a bit like Smirnoff ice but served by the pint and with the strength of Stella. This is super popular in Finland, served basically everywhere and does not taste of Gin whatsoever. Because I hate Gin and I love this. Its refreshing but you should be warned that like it can result in a night out at a ubiquitous Irish Bar. Originally developed for sale at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, the drink is a brewed concoction of grapefruit flavours and barely available outside of Finland as they don’t really export it. There are also various other flavours and varieties now available including, lime cassis, extra strong and light varieties which I’m slowly working my way though. I do have a small stash of cans bought when I cruised to Helsinki and had no baggage allowance to contend with, but I did manage to permanently damage the nerves in one of my fingers carrying it back to the ship. One of my unusual and sober ‘beer injuries’. No regrets however!
Pints of beer and gin long drink tend to retail at between €5.50 and €7.50. You can find a cocktail for about €10.00. It’s not cheap but its the cheapest of all the Nordic countries at least.
Coming up next time…Helsinki Sweet Treats and Saunas