Two weeks ago, Finland was a figuratively distant country in my mind and I honestly never gave the Scandinavian sister (to Norway & Sweden) much thought. Thanks to Finnair’s seasonal non-stops from Chicago O’Hare to Helsinki opening in May, I was fortunate enough to visit the beautiful country and see Helsinki and Turku blossoming in the spring.
While in the capital of Helsinki our stay was spent at Hotel Katajanokka, an active prison from 1837 up until recently 2006. We toured the newly re-opened Helsinki City Museum, took a 20-minute ferry ride outside the city to the small island of Vallisaari, spent a moment meditating in the diligently designed Chapel of Silence and paid a visit to the Marimekko, Finland’s most prominent design house.
The last two days in of the trip we took a train to Finland’s oldest city of Turku, a quaint town nestled along the Aura River. Turku Castle dates back to the late 13th century and it was amazing to get a peek into castle life throughout the centuries. Maybe I just wasn’t expecting much by the food or restaurant scene in Finland, but i was totally blown away by the level and quality of the food and service across the country. It’s true I never had a bad meal my entire trip. I tried reindeer for the first time at Nokka, soaked in the beautiful interiors at Bronda, enjoyed the spring-inspired asparagus menu at Kappeli, was floored by my astounding lunch at Olo, had too many courses to count at Juuri, and Smör.
Finland was a beauty in itself. The pristine nature, rich history, beautiful people and amazing food make this country stand out and stand tall. It was such pleasure to experience Finland and I’m so thankful for the country responsible for Nokia, saunas, and Angry Birds!