A brighter start to the day so after breakfast we took a bus into Kamppi and our first stop this morning was to the Laituri museum just across the square from the bus station. This museum houses Helsinki City Planning Department’s exhibitions and on display at the moment is an exhibition on cycling in the city so we decided to take a look.
The gallery covers everything you might need to know about bicycle traffic in Helsinki and we learnt that average cycle traffic along the Baana cycle route is 10,000 a month in the icy cold winter months but this rises to 100,000 a month in the summer, the Baana being a disused railway cutting which slices through the city centre now transformed into an urban cycle and pedestrian route. There was a floor to ceiling visual graph to which visitors are invited to add a colour coded sticker representing their age and average time spent cycling in the city which provided a visual analysis. We also came across a cycle simulator which lets people try out and explore new cycling routes in the inner city that cyclists might not have been aware of, introducing you to the type of terrain and landscape in a matter of minutes.
I liked having a try on the Bike Traffic Games which test how well cyclists understand traffic rules, cycling safely and avoiding accidents, it then analyses what kind of a cyclist you are – it was all very interesting and good fun. We picked up new cycling maps which will be useful as ours are a few years old. If you are local to Helsinki and you might like to take a look for yourselves the exhibition runs until the end of September.
From Kamppi we walked through Esplanadi Park towards the harbour where we were intrigued to see these polka dot covered tree trunks. Reading the signs we discovered they are a temporary installation by Yayoi Kusama a world renowned contemporary Japanese artist who is famous for her polka dots which are adding a splash of colour to the Esplanade until 9th October.
We then enjoyed a long walk along the waterfront passing the Old Market Hall and the harbour. It’s a scenic walk passing many elegant embassies and Jugend style homes. We stopped for coffee at Cafe Carusel which has an attractive outdoor terrace and this was a good place to sit and watch some of the racing action from the European Windsurfing Championships which are taking place in Helsinki this week.
If you look carefully at the photo you will see that one of the competitors is actually from Thailand! We thought this very strange as Thailand is obviously not part of Europe but apparently competitors from outside Europe are welcome to participate in the races but cannot win medals which actually seems a nice idea.
Next, we had a look round Helsinki Central Railway Station. Recently, the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper listed this station as being one of the 20 most beautiful stations in the world and it’s easy to see why it received this accolade, you can read the article here.
The station is built of granite and features a clock tower and two pairs of statues holding spherical lamps which are illuminated at night. The station was designed by Eliel Saarinen in 1919 in the National Romantic style. The internal concourse and booking hall are elegant and spacious and provide direct access to the city’s underground metro system.
We returned via Kamppi as we wished to do some food shopping and passing through the concourse we paused awhile to watch some folk dancing that was taking place, a cheery end to another fun filled day in Helsinki.