Winter sports and snow fun
This year winter came earlier as in the previous years and we have more snow to enjoy than before. Now when your exams are soon done and you have a couple of weeks before you leave for your Winter holidays (or leave Finland totally, sniif), you can maybe try some of these suggestions. Let愀 hope the snow won愒 melt before March/April!
1. Walking is a good way to enjoy the snow. The whole landscape is transformed with this white coat and places that normally might seem ugly, can be look lovely with a snow cover. Try especially forests, parks, seaside, islands (Suomenlinna) and Seurasaari.
2. When the sea is frozen, walking on the ice is a great past-time. But remember, it is NOT safe to walk on the ice before January. And anyway, see what the locals do. It is often windy out there, so have enough clothes on. Especially on a sunny Sunday in February, the ices surronding the centre of Helsinki are dotted with people.
3. Have you ever tried fishing through a small hole in the ice? Why not give it a try! Again, you will see many people on ice here in Helsinki, mostly men, trying to catch some fish. But the main reason is not to get something, it is also a sort of meditation. Some people even fish with nets, but that might be a bit too much for you.
4. To be a bit sporty, try at least ice-skating (or ice-hockey), cross country skiing (Palohein� is good place in Helsinki, because you can rent skis there. You can go there with the bus number 66 A), slalom, snow-boarding and sledging (again I would advice you to try Palohein�). If you want something more exreme, there is always the chance to do ice-climbing, swimming in the icy water (avanto) and husky-sledgies. In these pages http://www.hel.fi/liv/lajit/jaa.html
you have a nice list of all the ice rinks in Helsinki. Only two of them (Kallio and Lassila) are regularely maintained, and you can rent skates there. The other ones have ice, if the city of Helsinki has time, money etc.
5. The snow is a great material to build and play with. You can make anything from plain angels to great snow castles. There is every year some competition in snow building around Helsinki. And two years ago they even built a real church from snow on Senaatintori. And of course the more northbound you get, the more snow you have - in Kemi there has been traditionally a HUGE snow castle.
6. Nothing beats Lapland. The winter sport centres have been open for a month already, and in some places you can ski until May. Rent a cabin with friends and stay one week - a weekend is not enough. The tourist offices at Esplandi know all this and a lot more, so ask them.
7. If you think it is too cold outside, you can always stay in you room, drinking hot chocolate and reading a good book in a candle light. Or invite your friend for "pikkujoulu", eat well and have a good time. And think about the storm outside and be happy.
About the coldness - do dress warmly. Helsinki is a windy town and if the temperature is -10 C, but it愀 windy, it feels like -20 C or more in your skin. Most of the warmth is lost in your head, so have a good woollen hat (don愒 follow my style, I go hatless and loose soon my brain cells). Double mittens and woollen socks are good as well.
I want to end this message with quoting freely the lyrics of one of my favourite bands, Ultra Bra: "Snow covered all our bad sides, greed, selfishness..." At least I become always happy, when the snow arrives. I hope that you too.
Have fun, Outi