Officially day three of my Finland trip, Helsinki has already surpassed my expectations. Currently the Design Capital of the World, the city is brimming with global art and culture, all seen in every aspect of local life. From fashionista bikers and bohemian flea markets to impressive street art, here’s to me feeling hipster in Helsinki.
Cities like Helsinki, Copenhagen and Amsterdam are almost synonymous with bike culture and I can’t help but want to join in all the hipster fun. Every biker I’ve seen is effortlessly fashionable, which makes biking seem more like an artform than a means of transportation. While Helsinki is not your typical overly crowded city, there are definitely traffic jams avoidable by traveling via bike. It’s also an eco-friendly option, which is enough of a reason to peddle rather than drive. Summer is a perfect time to observe Finnish bikers in their natural habitat so get ready to see these stylish locals in action.
Since Finland is generally cold for a large portion of the year, when the sun comes out to play, the locals stay. Taking advantage of these long days of sunlight and warmer weather, our group stopped by a popular flea market in the design district. Unlike most of the fleas I’m used to browsing through, this one was very laid-back and sparse due to it being a Tuesday morning. Also fully noted was the high quality of the fashionable second-hand clothes and vintage items being sold, a solid indication that Helsinki is truly a city of art, fashion and design excellence.
This “turn-table” is an innovative and eco-friendly way of preparing food in which herbs are planted in a greenhouse adjacent to the outdoor restaurant-style cafe. All food and beverages are organic and this particular joint is just one of many found throughout Helsinki and other parts of Finland. The green initiative is run by DODO, a environmental organization representing the local area and encouraging the development of sustainable food throughout Helsinki. Their goal is to show that growing clean food in urban areas is entirely possible.
Based on my recent articles about street art, it’s safe to say that I’m relatively obsessed with graffiti, especially while traveling. Unlike many other cities like New York, London and Berlin, graffiti artists in Helsinki stick to the rules and only spray where they are allowed, which is this case is a single wall in the Suvilahti area. While this may lesson street credibility to some, I think it’s a positive reflection on their personal characters that they respect their neighbors enough to follow the law. I was especially excited to observe a few artists hard at work.
I may be biased, but I definitely appreciate the subtle examples of bohemian flair exhibited in many of Helsinki’s design elements. Having just experienced Helsinki Day (the city’s June 12th birthday) myself, I continue to be pleasantly surprised by the creative culture surrounding me at every corner. Simply passing through a nearby park is an opportunity to become inspired and an excuse to showcase avant-garde flair. I found a series of trees and bikes uniquely decorated in honor of the annual event and I certainly hope these vibrant colors stay for a little while longer.
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