28 Aug 2012

The knit graffiti revolution

I stumbled on this while walking around the city today:

I was so happy to discover that most of the trees on the Vanha kirkkopuisto (Ruttopuisto) have been covered in colorful knitwear.

Knit graffiti, welcome to Helsinki!!! 

(Sorry for the crappy pictures, I only had the phone camera... but you can see nicer ones in here.)

Dear Helsinki City boss: can we please keep them for the winter?
The bright colors will look super cool in contrast with the white snow!

26 Aug 2012

Meet my girls

I used to paint quite a lot, back in the days when I had time and inspiration to do so.
And then I moved to Helsinki... and it was hard to find the time, the space (and the inspiration) to start painting.

I also have to admit that I feel much more the urge to paint when there is a bit of drama going on in my life... and needless to say that Finland is not exactly the epicenter of drama.

I only managed to paint this one a year after I moved here... and I haven't touch a brush since then.

However, before I went on holidays I was sick and oh so bored at home that I felt the need to start sketching... and before I could even think about it, I found myself in front of the white canvas with a tube of oil paint in my hand. The end of 3 paint-less years.

It still needs a couple of days of work, let's hope I have the energy to finish it at some point next month. I promise I will show the end result. 

Painting mainly works as a therapy for me, but once the paintings are ready I don't know what to do with them. I do not necessary feel like hanging them on the wall.
That's why I abandoned my paintings at my parents house, when I went to live on my own 10 years ago. I left all of them behind, except for this one, which has a very special meaning to me.
I took her to Barcelona, she was hanging in my rather sad apartment and gave me good vibes every morning. But then I moved to Austria and had no choice but leave her with my parents too.

They are all still there. My mother have some on display, the ones that seem a bit more "normal", the rest of the collection is hidden in the basement.
I do not blame her, I don't really see something like this hanging on their living room wall.

I hardly ever wanted to show "my girls" to anybody, most of my friends don't even know about it.
But I think it is about time to take them out from the basement. At least virtually.

It may or may not make me feel better, but -as my grandmother used to say- what doesn't kill you, makes you fat.

There you go.

21 Aug 2012

I wish everyday would be Restaurant Day

Among all the events that are organized in the city, the Restaurant Day would come on top of my top 10 list.
The concept is easy: during the Restaurant Day, anyone can open an informal pop-up restaurant/cafe/bicycle bar (you name it) and sell their home made yummy goods to everybody.
The best part is that can be done anywhere, no licenses, permits nor any kind of bureaucracy needed.

Last Sunday was Restaurant Day and of course I did not miss it. Many parks and streets were packed with food stands, there were over 600 "restaurants" even though it was raining.

It was wonderful to see how the people really put effort in making their pop-up restaurant into something original and creative. It is not just about selling food on the street, it is more like a food carnival. I love it!

You can see more pics in their Facebook page.

One of my favorite "restaurants" was The hand of God, selling Argentinian empanadas from a window. After making your order, the empanadas were lowered down at street level in a basket and Miss empanada (see picture bellow) would handle them to you. While all this happened, a girl from the same window was playing guitar and singing Spanish songs. Can it get any cooler?

If you want to visit Helsinki make sure that you come on a Restaurant Day (they organize it 4 times a year), the next one is the 17th of November... you will have the worst weather ever but you will eat like a king!

And well, if visiting Helsinki in November does not sound very appealing ( I don't blame you, I hate November with all my soul), don't worry because it's also possible to participate from your city. The event has spread already to other places in the world, so no matter where you live, I encourage you all to put up your very own restaurant for a day.

Thank you Restaurant Day for making Helsinki a happier place!

16 Aug 2012

Making Helsinki a happier place

When I saw Helsinki for the first time I honestly thought that was a pretty dark soulless city.
I couldn't help but compare it with Barcelona or other European capitals, and of course I found many differences. Not only the architecture was odd to me (Finns are the kings of the "grey box" architectural movement)...

The ugliness of this building hits me in the face every morning when coming out from the train (from here)

 ...but also the general vibe of the city, it was kind of depressing.
However, I think Helsinki is one of those cities that grows on you, and with the years I have learned to like it. You just have to get under the grey layer and you will discover a completely different (and beautiful) city.

Yeah, Helsinki might not be the prettiest city in the world. So what?
Are we just going to seat comfortably in our Ikea sofa and complain about it? I am not.

I know we might not able to change the architecture... nor the laws that forbid to decorate your entrance door with pink bright paint. But it actually doesn't take so much effort to make Helsinki a happy city, even if it is only for a little while.

Look for example what the guys from  We love Helsinki organized, an event called "katutaidekierros" which could be translated to "street art tour", check it out.

I'm the one the Police car is looking at! (min. 00:10 and min. 00:25)... I must say that what we did was kind of illegal, but I think we were too cute to end up in jail.

Carolina, Pilar and me in the middle of the creative process.
Photo: Tuomas Sarparanta

Photo: Tuomas Sarparanta
Photo: Tuomas Sarparanta

Photo: Ossi Pirkonen

Photo: Ossi Pirkonen

Photo: Tuomas Sarparanta
Photo: Ossi Pirkonen

It is funny how easily you can impact your environment in a positive way.

So... people out there: I strongly encourage you to add something beautiful and/or unexpected (even if it is a very very tiny thing) to the city you love. Everybody will benefit from it.

P.S. Our pieces of art didn't last very long (the same night most of the stickers were removed by the city's cleaning brigade), which is a pity, but I like to think that we made the city a bit more colorful at least for a little while... maybe we even made someone smile, and that alone makes it totally worthy.

12 Aug 2012

Bye bye summer!

After many weeks of sunny weather, ice-creams, computer-less days, Italian books, great food and even better company... here I am, back in business and ready to share some pics about the holidays (and hopefully a few restaurant reviews later on, because I ate oh so good during these weeks in Spain!!).

It sounds strange even to me, but I did not spend every single day on the beach, I promise (Maybe I had enough beach in Tioman?).

Instead I visited my friends in Pisa for a week and after that we went on a Spanish coast mini-tour: starting in Menorca and continued down to Valencia, Alicante and Cartagena.

I got the chance to hug a lot of friends that I haven't seen in long time...

... plus I was able to practice my favorite summer sport ever: terrace jumping (going from one bar terrace to another, eating tapas and enjoying a good glass of wine/beer with friends).

That is what I call a great holiday.

I hope this summer gave me all the happy energy required to survive another winter in Finland.
Seems unbelievable that I am going to go from this:

to this:

in just a few months time.

I know, it looks pretty horrible... but believe me, it is just a matter of keeping the summer spirit up.

... and when the summer spirit finally manages to escape to a warmer country, I'm going to lay on the sofa with a cup of tea and go through all the funny pictures of my cats.

If this does not cheer me up, I don't know what will:

Pumis BEFORE the shower
Pumis AFTER the shower