Tag Archives: Helsinki

Haava (“The Wound”) exhibition by Seppo Fränti

We all have wounds, in different parts of our body. Some have them in the heart, others elsewhere” suggests Seppo Fränti and continues to say that by naming his exhibition “The Wound” he acknowledges the inevitable yet curative role wounds play in life.

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Seppo Fränti is one of the most prominent collectors of contemporary Finnish art. The Wound exhibition makes a small part of his private collection available to the public for the first time.

If anyone, Seppo knows about wounds. He was one of the unlucky tourists to be kidnapped by terrorists in 2000 but that is another story. Today he is more known in Finland for his outstanding collection of young Finnish artists’ works.

This spring a fragment of his collection became Haava (The Wound in English) exhibition. Very quickly the exhibition became one of the most-talked cultural events of Finland, providing the viewer with a unique opportunity to see what young Finnish artists are up to. The exhibition closes on Sunday, so if you are in Helsinki, do not miss this exceptional opportunity to learn more about the Finnish art!

Where? Lapinlahden Lähde (former Lapinlahden sairaala), Lapinlahdentie 1, Helsinki. Every day (until Sunday!) from 13h to 19h.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1726519167564493/

For inquiries and private visits: seppo.franti@gmail.com

Catalogue: adobe.ly/1Uz2nrK (Finnish and Swedish)

Articles: http://www.hs.fi/kulttuuri/a1459482818959 (Finnish)

http://www.lilou-s.fi/taide-art/seppo-frantin-taidekokoelma-raiskyy-lapinlahdessa/ (Finnish and French)

https://helsinkicontemporary.com/news/seppo-fr%C3%A4nti-collection-in-exhibition-for (English)

 

The Old Market Hall in Helsinki

From The Market Square by the sea in Helsinki my little good bye tour of Helsinki continued to another wonderful market, the Old Market Hall. This beautiful building, open to public in 1889, is one of three covered market halls in Helsinki and another must place to see when visiting the Finnish capital.

The Old Market Hall opened its doors in 1889. This is when Finland was an autonomous state of Russia named the Grand Duchy of Finland.

The Old Market Hall opened its doors in 1889. This is when Finland was an autonomous state of Russia, the Grand Duchy of Finland.

The Old Market Hall has some of the best choices of food in Helsinki, from oysters to snails.

The choice of food is outstanding and includes fresh oysters, snails, crayfish and best cuts of meat, among many others.

I had already had strawberries and coffee outside by the sea, and it was now time for salmon and more coffee. A typical Finnish breakfast (just kidding!).

My mission was to overdose on Finnish delicacies before catching my flight a few hours later and I had decided there was no better way to do this than buy slices of marinated salmon and eat them with fingers!

Salmon with different flavors at Fish Shop Marja Nätti. My paradise!!

Salmon with different flavors and ways of preparation at Fish Shop Marja Nätti. My paradise!!

When in Finland, make sure that you taste other fish like white fish, too. The variety of fresh water fish keeps impressing me, so don't stick to only salmon.

When in Finland, make sure that you taste other fish like white fish, too. The variety of freshwater fish keeps impressing me, so please do not stick to only salmon!

I purchased a few slices of marinated salmon from Fish Shop Marja Nätti that I got to know during my food tour in May (Helsinki by Food), and entered a fish heaven. I have no problem eating salmon for breakfast, as long as it tastes good, and the rosé pepper flavored salmon was just from heaven. Not only it tasted divine, but I was also boosting my Omega 3 levels… Perfect! Ready to leave Finland soon!

The Old Market Hall: http://vanhakauppahalli.fi/en/

The Market Square by the sea in Helsinki

It was my last day in Helsinki. Well, to be precise, I only had a few hours remaining. My husband had left on an earlier flight and mine was in the afternoon. I hopped on the tramway, got off at the railway station, and begun my own little good bye tour of Helsinki. The sun was shining, it was 27C and the more I approached the place where I would have coffee, the more I could hear the seagulls.

The Market Square is a lovely place by the sea in the center of Helsinki. The farmers sell their fruits and vegetables next to vendors specialized in souvenirs such as reindeer skin. The square is always full of locals as well as tourists, many who stop by for a cup of coffee or salmon soup.

The Market Square is located on prime location by the sea, next to the Town Hall of Helsinki and the Presidential Palace.

The Market Square is located on prime location by the sea, next to the Town Hall of Helsinki and the Presidential Palace.

You should visit the Market Square in the morning to find the best products.

Like everywhere in the world, visit the Market Square in the morning to find the best products.

I ordered take-away coffee and begun walking around. The breeze was lovely. People were happy and I felt excited as a first-time tourist in Helsinki. There was an abundance of berries, potatoes, smoked fish and girolles. I bought strawberries for breakfast. Talking about natural sugar!

Finns are crazy about strawberries in summer and I was not an exception.

Finns are crazy about strawberries and I was not an exception.

While I was enjoying these local delicacies something struck me. I sort of went crazy and purchased blueberries, strawberries, salmon and girolles to take back to Paris…. as if Paris didn’t have them –of course it does! However, my moment of craziness was moderate, I think, because I did not buy potatoes and onions….  and not even dill!

Even if this dill looked amazingly tasty (nothing like one finds in Paris), I didn't buy it. And guess what? I regret I didn't!

No, I did not bring potatoes to Paris… even if they looked delicious and so clean!

Pleased with my purchases, I started walking toward the Old Market Hall (The Old Market Hall in Helsinki). I don’t know if they have always been there, but for the first time I noticed some boats in the harbor, between the Market Square and the Old Market Hall. The boats were very cute: small and inhabited by individual farmers selling few selected food products (fish and potatoes, of course). I almost wished that I could sail to one of the many islands of the Finnish archipelago with them.

These small boats had sailed from the archipelago to sell vegetables and fish in Helsinki. Cute!

These small boats had sailed from the archipelago to sell vegetables and fish in Helsinki. How romantic!

The Market Square is a lovely place to hang out, to buy food, to drink coffee or eat salmon soup and other Finnish delicacies, so make sure you make it your stop when visiting Helsinki!

PS This is where most of the archipelago cruises depart. The Suomenlinna ferry that I took in winter (The Best Part of Public Transport in Helsinki) can also be found in the proximity. If you hold a valid public transport ticket, do not miss this great opportunity!

A chapel of design

This summer I discovered something in Helsinki that I found absolutely fantastic and incredible: a very simplistic, curved-shaped chapel made of wood in the heart of the Finnish capital. Let me present you, the Kamppi Chapel of Silence! One of the world’s most stylish chapels:

Would you have guessed that this is a chapel?

Would you have guessed that this is a chapel?

The Chapel was completed in 2012, the year when Helsinki was World Design Capital 2012. This urban and spiritual project was designed by K2S Architects Ltd, who describe the project like this “This small wooden chapel introduces a place for silence and peace in the lively commercial centre of Helsinki. The chapel space is located in a sculptural wooden volume. The interior is warm and enclosed from the surrounding urban life. Indirect toplight enlightens the wooden chapel interior.”

My first impression was very powerful. I loved the outside design. Even if the Chapel somehow looks like nothing and could-be-anything at the same time, it is very elegant. It is one of a kind. I loved how the sun rays touched the wood (wood that was glazed with wax by using nanotechnology, says the brochure of the Chapel).

The wood used in the chapel has been glazed with wax. Nanotechnology was used in this method, but do not ask me in what way.

The wood used in the chapel has been glazed with wax. Nanotechnology was used in this method, but do not ask me in what way.

I was sort of nervous to walk in. Would the inside match the beauty of the outside?

Judging by these photos, I am sure you will agree with me that it did. It was at the same time imposing and down to earth. Quiet and present. Difficult to describe.

If you haven't found the type of church you feel comfortable in, try the Kamppi chapel in Helsinki, Finland.

If you haven’t yet found the type of church you feel comfortable in, try the Kamppi Chapel in Helsinki, Finland.

During the time of my visit there were numerous tourists from France, Russia and Japan, but I could also witness young children popping in, alone, on their way from the sports to home. In some ways I felt happy that a religious place managed to attract the younger generation. Even if they didn’t come in for spiritual reasons (but what do I know, maybe they did!), they came in, stayed quiet, looked around, observed, took photos and left. It seemed like they appreciated the place and the feeling in it, and to me this represents the most powerful “recognition of success” the architects could ever receive!

The Kamppi Chapel attracts many kinds of visitors: photographers, architects, tourists, but also curious locals.

The Kamppi Chapel attracts many kinds of visitors: photographers, architects, tourists, but also curious locals.

Even if you may have very little time in Helsinki, make sure you visit this chapel only 5 minutes away from the railway station by walking. It is open from Monday to Friday 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. and from Saturday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. To be found on Facebook here: Kampin kappeli.

For more information:

K2S Architects: http://www.k2s.fi/
ArchDaily article: and http://www.archdaily.com/252040/kamppi-chapel-k2s-architects/
..and lastly, a photograph of the Q&A I took in the Chapel:

This Q&A may answer your additional questions!

This Q&A may answer your additional questions!

Understanding Finland by Art

During my last visit to Helsinki I did something that I recommend every tourist to do. I visited some of the most important art museums of the Finnish capital: Ateneum Art Museum, Design Museum and Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art.

This may sound like a lot of museums to do in one trip, but in my opinion these museums provide interesting insight into what Finland used to be, how it has evolved, what it represents today and where it is heading to. In fact, I would even go as far as to say that what you will learn about Finland through art in these museums will lay foundations for your further encounters in Finland and make you better understand this sparsely populated but geographically big country, sometimes also described obscure.

My first mission was to visit Ateneum and particularly its “Highlights of the Collections” section. To me this is where I would get to the roots of Finland; time travel to the Romantic Nationalism era of the late 19th century when Finnish artists begun to praise local traditions and culture. Kalevala (the national epic) and its mythology, lakes, majestic scenery, peasants, folklore and nationhood were recurring themes in the paintings of Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Eero Järnefelt, Albert Edelfelt, Helene Schjerfbeck, Hugo Simberg, to mention a few.Kullervo Cursing by Akseli Gallen-KallelaAs every Finn, I have seen these masterpieces thousands of times, but I wanted to revisit them to see what they can explain to me about my country of origin. As I continued observing, I was reminded of the harsh living conditions of this northern country, the period of the Swedish and then Russian rule, as well as of the solitary personality type of a Finn who still often is more relaxed alone (or in the nature) than with other people.

Wandering in front of some of the most famous Finnish paintings did open the door to the Finnish soul and I understood that what these artists expressed more than 100 years ago is still very much alive. Today, the Finns continue to love the nature and lakes, and forest is a place of meditation. Indeed, this is why in Finland there are about 500,000 summer houses, sacred places where Finns jump into their dear lake in all weathers, often naked as in this painting. The Aino triptych by Akseli Gallen-KallelaOn my way out of Ateneum my mind was stuck on Finland that was an agrarian state much longer than its neighbors. How did this country that was so poor just over 100 years ago became one of the richest and most gender-equal nations of the 21th century? The answer to this question was to be found in my next destination, Design Museum, where I was going to witness the transformation that Finland underwent. First around its independence in 1917 and second immediately after the Second World War that left the country ruined and badly injured physically and psychologically.Lemminkäinen's Mother by Akseli Gallen-KallelaAlready during the Russian rule Finland had taken steps toward showing its distinctiveness. The artistic triumph of the Romantic Nationalism era culminated in the Paris World’s Fair in 1900 when Finland made its international breakthrough: “we are culturally different from Russia” was what Finland was saying to the world and the world loved the message.

When Finland gained its independence seventeen years later, architecture and design played an important role in the identity making. The poor, agrarian past remained in the back of the mind of designers, encouraging them to create simple and practical but aesthetic objects, often in harmony with the nature and natural materials. The predominant Protestant religion further directed the designers toward plain and unornamented creations.Alvar Aalto chairs at Design MuseumThe years following the Second World War filled Finnish homes with tears and poverty, but some comfort was brought to the Finns by the international success of Finnish design. The postwar period in Finland is called the Golden Age of Finnish Design and for a good reason. This is when Artek, Arabia and Marimekko became internationally sough-after brands. The Aalto vase, created in 1936, continued to travel around the world, and Jackie Kennedy stood by her husband wearing a Marimekko dress in 1960. The Finns were slowly but surely recovering from the wounds of the war.

Finnish design continued to strengthen its domestic and international position in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. New materials like plastic emerged, creating new opportunities for designers like Eero Aarnio and Yrjö Kukkapuro who became forerunners of plastic chair design. As Finland grew richer, design expanded to home appliances (for example, Fiskars scissors) and various aspects of daily life (for example, Helsinki got its funky orange metro in 1982). Design MuseumIndeed, during many decades Finnish design and art were seen as means to serve everyday needs, and everyday needs were seen as opportunities to create design and art. Convenient! Very Finnish! The moment I understood this idea, I understood a lot about Finland. Art and design were always meant to be available for everyone, regardless of person’s social class. The fact that every Finnish home is full of “design objects” is probably one of the best proofs of successful nation building that is equal and democratic…?

Now, let’s fast forward to the ’90s. Once again Finland took big international steps and Finnish design contributed to the success of the world’s most famous telephone, the Nokia phone. However, this was not all that was happening. During the ’90s Finland embraced the world in an unseen way. Finland’s EU negotiations coincided with the construction of Finland’s first truly international museum, Kiasma. Curiously, but as a reflection of the spirit of the time, it was designed by an American architect. KiasmaSome have compared Kiasma to Espace Louis Vuitton and Pompidou Center, but during my visit I realized that there was something particularly Finnish about Kiasma’s approach to contemporary art. Its desire to create a dialogue. In fact Kiasma is a platform where a dialogue between decision makers, artists, audience and society takes place, and as a demonstration of its ideology, I stumbled upon an exhibition curated by Finnish daycare children. Talking about participation and engagement!

While I admired Steven Holl‘s minimalist hence oh-so-Finnish architecture, I realized that Kiasma played and still plays a very symbolic role: it is a prime example of Finland’s forward-looking attitude. Finland has strongly tied its development to the future (as opposed to some countries that are more past-focused) and is open to the world. As Ville Kylätasku, an aspiring, young Finnish artist residing in Berlin told me, “To me, Kiasma is like a window through which Finland looks at the outside world”.

So, what did visiting these museums teach me about Finland? That art has played a strong role in the Finnish identity making. That art is practical and accessible. That often design objects and daily needs look the same. That Finland is a young country still looking for its place. That even after Nokia Finland will continue making international headlines. That there is nothing more sacred than a lake (and if you a foreigner visiting Finland, do jump –preferably naked– into that lake!).

Ateneum: http://www.ateneum.fi
Design Museum: http://www.designmuseum.fi
Kiasma: http://www.kiasma.fi

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Note: The idea behind this write-up was to see what kind of Finland-related emotions and ideas these three museums bring to me –“me” being someone who left Finland in the ’90s, travelled the world and settled (at least for the time being) in Paris. “Me” being someone who finds herself no longer fully Finnish and not yet (and maybe never?) French, but who is interested in individual and national identities.

Do notice also that I am not an art historian. I have tried to check facts and figures, but as always, do your own research and certainly do not take every word and sentence I wrote as a representative of the absolute truth. These are my ideas and should be taken only as such. 

Lastly, I would love to hear your opinion about Finland and Finnish art! Please do so by writing your comment below this post, by Facebook (Pearlspotting) or by Twitter ()!

Helsinki by Food

So much has happened on the Helsinki food scene since the ’90s that some call it a revolution.

All current Michelin-star restaurants in Helsinki have been created since 2003 and none of the current Bib Gourmand restaurants existed before 2009. In addition to Russian, Tex-Mex and Mediterranean restaurants, which were some of the first international cuisines to arrive in Helsinki, choices keep growing. There is now a Kosher deli. A Peruvian restaurant opened earlier this year. Two young chefs mix Korean, Japanese and North-Chinese flavors. Hakaniemi neighborhood has turned into a bazaar of ethnic grocery shops. The Restaurant Day concept, born in Helsinki in 2011, has now spread to more than 30 countries. The first street food event was organized in March this year. And the list goes on. Indeed, Helsinki has never been as welcoming to foodies as it is today!

As someone who left Helsinki in the mid-’90s, I am intrigued by the latest food scene developments of my old hometown. During my last visit to Helsinki in May this year I took this passion even further and spent an entire day touring the Finnish capital with a professional food guide. Read further to see why this day was fantastic!

I met my lovely guide Veera in front of the Hietalahti Market Hall, which was our first stop. According to an urban legend, this 110-year-old covered market was used as a horse stable during the Russian rule.As visiting Finland is nothing without discovering local fish, our first stop was Fish Shop Marja Nätti. We had a chance to run into Petri, Marja’s son, who proudly explained to us that the sandwich we are eating is their newest recipe: cold-smoked salmon and asparagus on malt bread topped with caviar-infused Hollandaise sauce. Wow. It was as delicious as it sounds like and yes, it was eco-friendly caviar grown in the heart of Finland’s lake district.

Indeed, respecting the ecosystem, traditions and small fishermen were the words that kept appearing in Petri’s talk. He revealed that this summer Marja Nätti will co-run a fish and chips restaurant at the entrance (outside) of the Hietalahti Market Hall. One of the items on the menu will be a fish burger made of those Finnish fish (roach, pike, etc.) that have been ignored for a long time by chefs.fish skinJust as we were leaving, Petri grinned and asked “are you adventurous“? Curious as we are, Veera and I responded yes and Petri brought us another new product: fried salmon skin, a Finnish delicacy from the ’60s and the ’70s. I was a bit skeptical before tasting it, mainly because I am not a big fan of fried food, but it was lighter than I thought. And very tasty. My guests in Paris, are you ready for fish skin starters?

Our second and third stops were chosen by Veera because they are true representatives of the classic Helsinki: Lasipalatsi and Fazer. She explained to me that in spite of all sorts of exotic tendencies that hug Helsinki at the moment, these two places have maintained the market position thanks to their excellent, traditional products and loyal customers. At times when so much new comes to the market every week, people like to return to the roots from time to time, she added.

Lasipalatsi is an architectural masterpiece, a perfect example of Finnish Functionalist architectural style from the ’30s. Originally built as a temporary office building, Lasipalatsi is today one of the main landmarks of Helsinki and home to a well-known retro restaurant and a busy cafe, as well as other businesses.LasipalatsiThe best cafes of Helsinki are located in the residential neighborhoods but Café Lasipalatsi in the heart of Helsinki is one of the rare exceptions” Veera told me. She continued to explain that helsinkiläiset (residents of Helsinki) are very fond of this institution, making Café Lasipalatsi a meeting point of different generations. As we were walking out, I snapped some quick photos that in my opinion portray well that particular atmosphere (very Kaurismäki some may say).Cafe LasipalatsiOur third stop, Fazer, needs no introduction to Finnish readers. To my foreign readers, let me start by saying that Fazer is a confectionery and food company, created in 1891. Whenever there is a ranking of the most-loved Finnish brands, Fazer and its products are on the top of the list. For example, if you ask a Finn living abroad what she misses about Finland, she/he will probably tell you “Fazerin Sininen” (Fazer’s most popular milk chocolate).Fazerin SininenWe stopped for a cup of coffee but Veera reminded me that I should try to come back to enjoy Fazer’s famous brunch. Apparently reservations are sometimes needed a month in advance but this seemed understandable to me. Who would not salivate over these sandwiches? FazerFrom the city center we moved to a charming neighborhood called Kruununhaka, and this is where I got a little bit lost. I know Helsinki very well, and could have guessed the previous stops, but suddenly I had no idea where I was walking. Suspense!Anton & AntonAnton & Anton, where we stopped, is a lovely grocery store created out of love. The founders, previously unknown to each other, met and decided to create a super market that specializes in personalized service and sells the kind of food they would want to eat themselves. Conveniently, they both had a son called Anton, and that resolved the problem about the shop name. Cute, isn’t it!Anton&AntonWhile we were tasting different types of cheese (with fantastic fig and rhubarb jam!), I learned more about the everyday business of Anton & Anton. Veera told me that the idea of Anton & Anton is not to sell exclusively organic food, but simply good food: seasonal products, handpicked artisan products, food that comes from respected origin, grown by passionate small farmers, etc. Some products come from Finland –many from the Åland Islands I noticed– but there are products from abroad, too. Before we left Anton & Anton I made a note to self: fill your picnic basket here next summer.

Our next and last destination required catching Helsinki’s funky orange metro. It was a nice ride by the sea and this time I knew where we were going: Teurastamo alias the Abattoir. Yes, this lovely ’30s building made of brick was indeed a place of blood until the early ’90s. The Abattoir HelsinkiVeera was taking me around the Abattoir complex but I had to stop her to confess something. “Veera, I do not understand what the Abattoir is about. It seems to be work in progress but where is it heading to?“, I asked her. Veera laughed and said it was well said. She continued that indeed the Abattoir is an urban concept still looking for its identity, but that basically its role is to provide premises for different activities (often ad hoc) including city gardening, food-related lectures and festivals, flea market, concerts, exhibitions, etc. One can also book a sauna (of course, after all we are in Finland!) or simply use the premises for a private barbecue party. The main guideline of the Abattoir is to keep it easily accessible and available to everyone.

In addition to aforementioned activities, there are a wholesale market and some restaurant-bars. We visited Jädelino, an ice-cream bar run by a Finno-Italian couple. JädelinoValerio, the Italian side of the love story, served us amazing pistachio and divine chocolate ice cream. He explained that he has no previous experience in ice cream making but that a kind man in his home town taught him all the tricks. Last November Valerio was ready and Jädelino opened its doors to serve ice cream and sorbet of Finnish and other flavors. When Valerio mentioned that some customers come from really far away just for his ice cream I was not surprised –I will return from Paris for his pistachio! And I will definitely return to the Abattoir. For me, it is one of the most interesting things happening on the Helsinki food scene at the moment.

My guide: 

Veera Teppola
Facebook: Helsinki Bites / Blog: http://food-fetish.com / Email: helsinkibites@gmail.com
Visits are tailor made and languages spoken include Finnish and English.
Highly recommended!

… places visited during the tour:

The Hietalahti Market Hall: http://www.hietalahdenkauppahalli.fi
Fish Shop Marja Nätti: http://www.kalaliikemarjanatti.fi
Lasipalatsi Restaurant: http://www.ravintolalasipalatsi.fi
Café Lasipalatsi: http://cafelasipalatsi.fi
Karl Fazer Café: http://www.fazer.fi/kahvilat-ja-leipomot/kahvilat–ravintolat/karl-fazer-cafe/karl-fazer-cafe/
Anton & Anton: http://www.antonanton.fi
Teurastamo (The Abattoir): http://www.teurastamo.com
Jädelino: http://www.jadelino.fi

The Best Part of Public Transport in Helsinki

A visit to Helsinki would not be complete without a visit to the surrounding sea –the sea forms an integral part of Helsinki and it is everywhere one looks. Personally, whenever I visit Helsinki, I try to include a walk by the sea or a ferry trip to Suomenlinna Island and this time was not an exception.Helsinki from the seaHelsinki from the seaThe weather has been a bit capricious in Helsinki this week but yesterday evening I braved it out and hopped onto the Suomenlinna ferry. It was already past 7 pm but the sun was still strong and clouds fluffy. Suomenlinna ferryThe ferry left from Kauppatori (the Market Square) and it took 15 minutes to reach the Suomenlinna island. On our way there were tiny islands occupied by fancy restaurants, red wooden houses (fishermen cottages?) and seagulls. All this looked very cute and exotic to me.Suomenlinna ferryAs I was not properly dressed I stayed inside the ferry when it made a five-minute stop in Suomenlinna to let passengers in and out. I could see that some tourists were better prepared for the weather than I was…Suomenlinna ferryAs the ferry made a U-turn I could observe Helsinki from the opposite angle. In addition to church towers sticking out on the horizon there were more seagulls and tiny, flat islands. Helsinki from the sea looked very Nordic: small, peaceful, lonely and majestic at the same time. Helsinki from the sea

Whenever you visit Helsinki make sure to include a ferry trip in your itinerary! Helsinki from the sea gives a very different perspective and shows a totally different side of the Finnish capital. Highly recommended any time of the year (just remember to wear warm clothes).

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Note: Helsinki has made visiting its beautiful archipelago easily accessible to everyone: a public transport ticket allows the traveler to catch the Suomenlinna ferry at no additional cost, which is an opportunity not to be missed!!

A tip: if you are planning to use the public transport a lot (and maybe combine it with cultural and other visits), think about Helsinki Card, which includes unlimited public transport and therefore unlimited Suomenlinna ferry travels! (http://www.visithelsinki.fi/en/sightseeing-trips-and-guidances/helsinki-card)