Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A little bit of both: Helsinki

When one mentioned Finland, the first thing that comes to mind is probably the cold weather or maybe Nokia (manufacturer of mobile phones, etc.). I didn't do much research about Helsinki before arriving here, but I can feel the presence of its Russian past while walking down the streets in the city. The monumental city plan was laid out in 1812 under the ruled of the Russian Tsar, as Helsinki was declared the new capital of Finland during that period.

Helsinki is no Stockholm, or even tries to be like one of its neighboring Scandinavian capitals. It has its own distinct taste developed from its eastern Russian past and a forward looking future from its western neighbors of Scandinavia.

Maybe it is because of this setting between the east and the west that I have mixed feelings about Helsinki. It is a nice city, but one that does not need more than a day to explore. The center is compact enough to get the full attention its need from its many visitors.

The future of Helsinki seems to be bright with a new urban development in the area of Kamppi, less than a few blocks away from the center. Take a stroll down a broad avenue from the city center to Kamppi, it is well worth the visit as you can experience a definite change in time between the old Russian past and the new technology focus future of Finland.

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