What to Do in Helsinki, Finland in November

The first notable thing we saw after getting off the Tallink Silja ferry at Helsinki, while walking from the West Harbor towards downtown Helsinki, was this statue. A bit grotesque, but I’m no art critique either.

This Bad Bad Boy is 8.5 meters in height, and his face shows surprise and shock, as if caught while urinating. It was part of the Mutatis Mutandis exhibition, which finished in October 2016, and since then, the statue has been moved to the city’s West Harbor (just outside the building housing of the Helsinki Computer and Game Console Museum). The artist Tommi Toija created this Bad Bad Boy statue.

In its new location away from the port, we walked about 5-10 minutes before we spotted him.  Again, I’m no artist, and I’m glad I don’t make my living from writing art critiques.

Bad Bad Boy in Helsinki

A more pleasant sight were these colorful seals, with a herring in their mouths.

Seals at the West Harbor Helsinki

More art and modern design is presented here. This is a wall of hundreds of tiny plaques, which you find walking from the West Harbor to the eastern shore of Jätkäsaari. The art project is called Horisontti, and bears the names of donors to the Keep the Baltic Sea Clean campaign.

After what seemed an endless walk trying to find the old part of Helsinki (good luck), or the modern downtown shopping area, we struck on the Stockmann department store. It was a nice warm place after a good 25-minute walk, especially being around the port area of Helsinki in November.

Stockmann shop window in Helsinki

Next, we looked for one of the Christmas markets. We found one in front of this white Lutheran church (construction was 1830- 1852).

Lutheran church in Helsinki

At the Christmas market, my friend and I shared a reindeer kebab. I had my share with all the extras a kebab can have – chili peppers, red onions, and sauce. The taste of game and the meat texture will make this a unique experience, and …remain unique.

We took another stroll through the lit streets of Helsinki.

Speaking of lit – most pubs were full by 5pm on Saturday. We could not leave Helsinki without having a pint, so we had it sitting outside.

Helsinki is a cool place to visit for a day – there are some good museums (which we didn’t go to) to visit, but we were more interested in shopping for souvenirs, its people, and the local culture.

Three Days in London

In late March, we flew to London for a few days to visit our son who’s attending London School of Economics (LSE) this year. We wanted to see how he lived, and also visited LSE to see where our money goes.

This is just an eclectic selection of impressions from our visit. The first one is the view we had from our 4th floor room in  The Bridge Hotel on Borough Road in London. It is in a very good location, and a short walk from Borough Station. As with many hotels in London, at least the ones I’ve been in, the rooms are rather small, but suitable for a three-day stay.

View from Bridge Hotel on Borough Street

We did a lot of walking and I actually ruined an old pair of shoes from all the stop-and-go foot traffic. We had terrific weather (had read somewhere that London has more sunny days per year than Miami), and  so it was easy to spot all the shiny coins lying on the sidewalks. Yes, while on holiday, I find coins several times a day.

We stopped in the pub The Duke of York on our last night there. Oh, the noise. And it wasn’t even crowded. We just drank our beer and avoided any kind of vocal communication. My husband and I just nodded to each other when it was time to leave.

Street in London

We had read about The George Inn, an important stop if you are interested in London’s historical pubs. It was once a coffeehouse, also visited by Dickens, and is London’s last remaining galleried inn. It is also the only pub in London to be owned by the National Trust.

The George Inn

After a good meal and some beer at the George Inn, we continued onto the London Bridge for a little stroll. I really stuck out wearing a read coat. This could prove useful if we were to get separated. Unfortunately for my husband, this did not happen. 🙂

On the London Bridge

I love London.

48 Hours in London

On Friday afternoon, we arrived with Lufthansa at Heathrow Airport in London. Not that we always need a reason to go to London, but our main purpose was to attend the wedding of a former students and to show our daughter London’s famous sites, including the University of London (UCL).

From the airport, we travelled to London (zone 1) at £ 5,50 p.p.

Seen on the tube in London

Seen on the tube in London

Our hotel, Club Quarters Gracechurch (see more on TripAdvisor) was in an excellent location, in walking distance to both Bank Station and Monument Station.

On the weekend, this location is very quiet as this is the financial district and there is not much going on. There is hardly any traffic, most breakfast places are closed. Fortunately, we found one after walking around a bit on Saturday morning. The next morning, we decided to get breakfast from Sainsbury’s, a supermarket nearby (Sunday hours: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.)

The hotel’s amenities were very good. In the lobby, you find tea and coffee making facilities as well as cookies, dried fruit, etc. all free of charge. The staff was very helpful in trying to find us a place to have breakfast Saturday morning.

The hotel’s offer for breakfast was £ 10 p.p. and that seemed a bit steep, especially with a picky teenager in tow who will only have two slices of toast.

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

We passed the Gherkin, where we would attend the wedding on Sunday afternoon.

Tower and Gherkin

Early Friday evening, across the street at Leadenhall Market, we joined the masses of office workers for food and drink.

Leadenhall Market

Leadenhall Market

beer

After-work drinks at Leadenhall Market

After-work drinks at Leadenhall Market

This pretty much wrapped up our first day in London.

Beer Garden Business in Germany

The beer garden season has no official opening date. Whenever the weather turns nice, every Kneipe (pub) with an outdoor setting, moves its tables and chairs outside. This spring, we got to sit in the beer garden as early as the beginning of April.

Beer garden in Germany

The pub Zum Adler in downtown Oberursel is not your typical beer garden. This is an old building off the old main street, and the proprietor is known for his homemade Apfelwein (alcoholic apple cider, what else – we are in Germany).

The benches are lined up in the courtyard entrance, which had to be high enough to let the loads of apples come through by tractor. Guess nowadays he has found a different route for his apples to come in.

Beer garden business might be down this week as the temperature has dropped to 18°C (65 F). This morning it was chilly with 7°C (45F). If you are heading to Germany, bring some warm clothing, just in case.

Oberems in the Taunus Mountains

At the end of yesterday’s drive through the Taunus region, we stopped at a cozy looking guest house/pub/restaurant called Zum Deutschen Haus located in Oberems ( a suburb of Glashütten).

Zum Deutschen Haus in Oberems/Glashütten

Deutsches Haus restaurant crest

Our teenagers settled for French fries, whereas  my husband and I decided to share one dinner, not being very hungry this late in the afternoon.

From the menu at "Zum Deutschen Haus"

We ordered a Karre Mist (a cart load of manure), which consisted of tenderloin in mushroom gravy, served with French fries and salad.  And like the name of the dish indicated, it was served in a trolley.The food was splendid and we will have to eat there again soon!

Zum Deutschen Haus in Oberems

It was a bit difficult to leave this place. It had been so warm and cozy inside, the beer was good, and it had started snowing again. Well, there will definitely be a next time!