Touring Finland

Helsinki, 2 degrees

Yeah, finally we have hit plus degrees! We can start talking about spring!

This week I spent four days on the Finnish roads, visiting Turku, Tampere and Mikkeli. People always make fun of me since I'm such a urban girl, so when I heard about the possibility to go on a roadtrip and represent Helsinki, I jumped at it straight away. During summer time we get a lot of questions concerning whole Finland; about our favorite Finnish cities and what they have to offer so I really needed to update my knowledge of other Finnish cities!

Usually I visit Turku once or twice a year. My family has a summer cottage close by to Turku, and my parents spent their childhood in Parainen, a place about 16 km from Turku. Therefore Turku and its archipelago is quite familiar to me. I remember going to Turku during summertime for some shopping or to the cinema as a child.

Turku is the 5th largest city in Finland after Helsinki, Espoo, Tampere and Vantaa. Having a river running through it, it is built in a different way than Helsinki and is a great summer city. After Helsinki, of course hehe.

Source: Wikimedia

Tampere on the other hand is less familiar to me, I hadn't visited it since 2007 when I went there with my school class so I was excited about going there through work this time.

Tampere is mostly known for its beautiful setting (in the lakeland area) and industrial history and has a lot of red brick factory buildings, now turned into restaurants and cafés. It also has the largest adventure park in Finland, Särkänniemi.

Source: YLE

Mikkeli has always been unfamiliar to me. Located also in the lakeland area, but a four-hour-drive from Tampere, it is known for it's beautiful natural setting but due to its small size (around 48 000 inhabitants) I had visited Mikkeli only once before.

Source: Savon Sanomat

Suoma2011, the tour I participated in, is a marketing tour where different cities and companies working in the tourism field can introduce themselves to clubs and organisations as a destionation for groups, as well as to secretaries and assistants looking for meeting and conference rooms and venues.

Helsinki being the largest city of Finland and Finland's capital, hehe, it has a lot to offer this year with the launch of a new website "Porukalla Helsinkiin" ,made especially for groups. My job was basically selling Helsinki to groups and secretaries; handing out brochures, pens, bags, postcards, mint pastilles and stuffed Helppi figures.

All the three tour days started with a hotel buffet breakfast, unpacking and putting the stand in order, followed by the actual fair between 10 am. and 12 am. After that we had a lunch break of one hour, and continued in the afternoon from 1 pm to 3 pm. When the fair event was over, we immediately packed our brochures and the other promotional material we had and took the bus to the next city. There we had the evening to spend as we wanted. Seeing as we arrived to Turku at six o'clock, Tampere at seven thirty and Mikkeli eight o'clock in the evening, there wasn't much time to spend in the cities. One could say that I only had dinner in each city.

The hotels differed quite a lot among each other. In Turku we stayed at Radisson Blu Marina Palace Hotel, which was excellent concerning the room and the breakfast.

Source: Radisson Blu

Unfortunately the service at the hotel restaurant can not be recommended since we

a) waited for our food orders for one hour
b) waited for an additional hour for the check

Can you believe it??!! Thank God we got a free round of limoncello drinks afterwards, as a thank you for all the waiting. Still, I must say it left a lasting impression in my mind.

Tampere's hotel choice was the Holiday Inn Tampere Hotel. I loved the fact that I had a spacious room and a huge toilet! What I didn't love was the poor breakfast and the fact that the hotel bar closed at eleven o'clock already!

Source: Holiday Inn

Tampere impressed us in other ways though. The Tourist Information Office of Tampere, GoTampere, had organised an evening in a local restaurant. The restaurant was newly opened, only 9 days before when we got the opportunity to get acquainted with it! The restaurant was called Stefan's Steakhouse and known due to the fact that the famous Topchef finalist Stefan Richter is one of its founders.

Stefan's Steakhouse has been furnished and decorated in a traditional way but with a fresh and modern approach. The indoor area can seat roughly a hundred guests, and in the summer when the terrace is open, the number of seating is doubled. As you may have figured by the name, steaks are the main article here. As an example, the house special: Wagyu beef filet, Kobe-style. In other words, you will be feasting on the finest beef in the world produced by specially bred and fed cattle. The restaurant also serves free-range, grain-fed Clare Valley Gold Premium beef from Australia.

Source: Toni Liimatta

We got to try a plate with different starters, all from mozzarella-tomato salad to salad with egg and bacon on it. We even had some main courses to try on, both fish and meat. With red wine of course! Delicious!

Best of all was the fact that we were introduced to the restaurant chain's history by the company's sales manager, but even the head chef came to talk to us so we really got a good impression of the place. In the setting of the beautiful red brick factory building, we were all sold.

The last stop before returning home was Mikkeli, where we stayed at the Cumulus Hotel Mikkeli. At this point, we were all so tired from touring and being on the road that we were just happy to lay down on any bed. The hotel's interior wasn't really of my liking but I liked the buffet breakfast, restaurant services and the candy we got on our pillows.

Source: Cumulus Hotels

Needless to say that I missed home. Already the first day, I felt I missed my special someone. Nevertheless, I knew why I went on the tour; to make contacts and get to know some tourism field colleagues. With that mission in mind, the trip turned out to be very successful. I got a lot of new friends and good contacts for my career and I enjoyed myself. I noticed though during the last day that I started saying even to our customers that I missed Helsinki. Great promotion, huh?

I also noticed walking on Friday morning on one of our main shopping streets how proud of a Helsinkian I truly am. I noticed that here people actually look at you, and I am always amazed of how forward-thinking, evolving and international Helsinki truly is.

What's your opinion?

  1. Hehee Cumulus ei ole todellakaan kovin modernisti tai kauniisti sisustettu paikka! :D Ehkä ensi kerralla Sokos Hotel Vaakunaan, ehkä vähän paremmat puitteet - vaikkei täältä suurta luksusta edullisesti varmaan saa. :) Hieno kuulla että olet täällä päin piipahdellut! ^^ Moni muu ei tiedä koko paikasta / ei sillä ole kommentoinnissa monesti väliäkään, mistä pikku- tai suuremmasta kylästä ollaan ympäri maailmaa :>


  2. Ei ehkä, mutta muistan vieläkin että ruoka oli hyvää :) Harmi et mulla oli silloin niin vähän aikaa käytettävissä Mikkelissä, mut sellaista se työreissaaminen on...
    Useimmille ei ehkä ole väliä, mutta itse olen utelias ihminen joten mua kiinnostavat pienet yksityiskohdat :) Nykyään niin harva helsinkiläinen on paljasjalkainen että olen kyllä oppinut tuntemaan ihmisiä jotka tulevat eri Suomen kolkista :)