Design Museum/District, Old Market (Story Restaurant), Cruise, Airbnb, Cashlessness – Helsinki

Still playing post-vacation catchup:

What do Nokia, Angry Birds, Fiskars,  and Marimekko have in common? They were all designed by Finns. This I learned at the interesting Design Museum here in Helsinki. I also learned about the Finnish designer Timo Sarpaneva who did a lot of glass designs for the company littala (or iittala) which i thought was Italian but apparently is named after a Finnish town.

This from Wiki: Timo Tapani Sarpaneva was an influential Finnish designer, sculptor, and educator best known in the art world for innovative work in glass, which often merged attributes of display art objects with utilitarian designations

He perfected a glass blowing technique that involved rubbing the hot glass with a wet piece of curved wood, creating a bubble inside the glass that is manipulated,  becoming part of the design. He also designed fabrics and did many drawings. Cool museum. I love the clothing people wear here, lots of vivid colors, patterns and designs ( a la Marimekko.)

I walked to the nearby design district, visiting little shops like Lokal, where a sweet saleswoman recommended other shops and even a flea market in the area. I have been struck by how kind people are to this hot, tired, one-armed American tourist (i.e. me).  One man (handsome man too) stopped to ask if I needed help as I was staring at my battered map. Later, I met a angel of sorts – a beautiful young woman with long blond hair, modeling one of her $350 personally designed orange silk dresses – who closed up her shop and led me a few blocks to the #3 tram. And gave me a hug before she left.

Helsinki room with piano

Down at the harbor, I got lunch in the renovated 19th century brick market hall at a place called Story. As my mom noted in her journal 25 years ago, “no memorable food here” but that’s ok. I am even tired of smoked salmon. I jumped aboard a 45 minute cruise around the harbor to rest and almost fell asleep. The fjords spoiled me for other ferries.


I’m on the second floor of this Kallio neighborhood apartment block.

I leave very early to tomorrow and have practiced walking the tricky 11 minute route to the airport bus stop, which I will walk at about 5 am. I couldn’t find the bus stop at first but finally figured it out this afternoon.

Staying at this Airbnb hasn’t been as easy as the others. The host is very kind but she doesn’t communicate very well and the directions she gave to her place were insufficient, as were directions for getting in. I also couldn’t reach her by phone when I had this trouble. (She later told me she can’t pick up at work.) She lives in a hidden spot that is not a bad location, once you find it but that ain’t easy. She seems to assume her guests have cellphones that work without WiFi, which is not the case for me. Next trip I will consider buying a data plan again and travel insurance. I also was struck by how cashless travel is, especially in Stockholm. If you don’t have a credit card, you often cannot do what you want to do. I watched one man be turned away at the cool photography museum in Stockholm because he only had cash. The museum refused to take it. Which is odd, because it used to be that merchants didn’t want you to use anything but cash. On two occasions, my credit card didn’t work in Stockholm, due to the merchant’s machine, not my card, but it was still a little alarming., especially since i only have one credit card. In one case, Francine had to buy my metro tix.




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Filed under museum exhibit, Scandinavia, THE ARTS

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