Sunday, January 22, 2017

Lose Yourself to Tea

The semester started in a very fast pace, this week I had nearly zero free time. On the bright side, I didn't get that much rusty as I expected; adaptation seems to take a short time. I tremendously missed that tempo. Now, I have a tight schedule which allows me brief breathing time to appreciate life more. When you run between lab work and courses, even usual activities become more precious: a short lunch eaten with friends, or  a weekend afternoon spent in city center.

After three weeks, weather forecast stated that sun will appear in Helsinki on this weekend. Even though I didn't have high hopes on a sunny day, I suggested my friends to check some new places at the city center. On Saturday morning, sun showed itself; we both cheered and cursed at the same time. Now more snow would melt and refreeze. Walking like a penguin and checking around each time I slipped on ice -did anyone saw that?-: Became a routine for me! Yet, I haven't fallen on ice or on snow. My principles only allow me to fall on my butt at illogical circumstances -like in a full classroom, by adjusting my chair's leg into the hole on the ground-. Hyvää?! (Good? Are you okay?)
Since I didn't crack my tailbone, I was able to enjoy the sunny Saturday. First stop of the day was Luomus, Natural History Museum. This little museum is located in Kamppi and its also a research institute functioning under Helsinki University. In such a new looking city center, this old building with some humor suddenly pops up at a corner. 
"Hello, would you like to have some tea?" said one of the giraffes. And "Sorry, maybe later. We first want to see what's inside." said the girls. 

From the time point I remember, I was crazy about animals. First books I ever had were encyclopedia series about the fauna at different parts of the world. Natural history museums make me very excited and this one was pretty nice too. All the exhibitions were prepared with unique details and serious attentiveness. Their collection was wide in comparison to such a small looking place. In my opinion, it was way better than most of the online reviews said. Especially the world's animals floor became my favorite. I don't want to ruin the discovering part for you with more details. Otherwise I can write to every little detail, maybe minus the Latin names.

If you have kids, you can enjoy a fun and educative day with them. The place was full of trivia games for kids, like guess the animal boxes. Extra good news if you are a animal crazy biology major student, you can enter the museum for free! I am planning to come here as often I can. 

Without having tea with the giraffes, we left the museum. We were all very hungry, so no second thoughts at that moment. What could be a better place than Hesburger? It is a Finnish fast food chain with many tasty options for all diet types. I have been eating very healthy for couple of weeks, so I deserved to have a bite of hamburger with delicious sauces they offer.

Our next plan was exploring the Design District a little. However, I didn't realize the closing times of the most of the shops were 2-3 pm. On which earth shops close at 2 pm on Saturday?! We walked a little in the cold and call it the day for this time. For a great ending, a hot beverage is always my favorite at chilly Helsinki nights -understatement-. 

*K is the ultimate tea lover among us. Personally, I also really don't like saying no to a refreshing cup of tea. It's a cultural habit maybe. The Huone is one of the cool cafes that you can visit at the Design District. Their tea selection is massive and the staff is super friendly. You first need to find a place to sit in the minimalist yet sincere cafe. Luckily, we got the last empty table and went to counter to order our tea. Menu is pretty simple with pot options and tea lattes. The girl who took our orders helped us to ease our decision time. White, black or green? We ordered a pot of green tea with sakura and a pot of white tea with pomegranate. Another plus, price was very reasonable especially if you are willing to share with your friends. Wait, isn't that the main purpose of having tea?

Not only tea was delicious, the presentation was also neat. The waiter brought matcha chocolate with the tea. I love, love matcha and everything made with it! From all these positive qualities, I keep the best to the last. They have a sustainable approach to tea as it actually should be at every tea place. It was my first time to see it though. You can have refills of hot water to re-brew your tea. They leave the tea at your table. If you are filled with tea, you can always smell it as I do.

The Huone might escape from your attention when you are walking through Eerinkatu. But definitely, it shouldn't. It is a place with an addiction potential for tea lovers or future ones. No, I didn't get paid by them or anything. It is just this kind of sincere environment and quality, are rare to spot. So, it is worth sharing. When you want to have some nice conversation with a friend, invite this person to here and let the time go by with the perfect tea. In the end, who are we without our good friends?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Last Days of the Winter Break

During a short break from reading papers, I was roaming around the house. My lazy, "can do that later" attitude towards spending rest of my holiday, really bothered me. I took my time for almost everything and chilled at home a lot. Yesterday, *A pointed out the very truth: "We don't want to go out as much as others, because we are living so close to the campus." She was right from each and every angle. We have at least two shopping malls around, we can go to campus whenever we want to and we already have the natural beauty around. Maybe it is just making excuses but imagine if only we wouldn't live in the suburbs... Then I got distracted by the woodpecker across the window. It was pecking on of the trees at our snowy garden. So ambitious and cute; I kept watching it until little cutie flew away with a belly full of worms.

It's not like I haven't done anything after we came back from Netherlands. Mostly resting of course, but grocery shopping takes a lot of time too! I could have done much more, like going out and discovering the city I mean. Such a long holiday for the nerd inside of me. She is excited, and she wants to start the classes and the lab ASAP.

Really weird, I feel like it was a month ago. However, just ten days passed in the new year. At our home, we had a small New Year's Eve gathering with couple of fellow Master's students: A family style dinner, some Taboo and some glögi. Just the way I like to left the old year behind: All nice and fun people, a simple night.

The clock was almost ticking for the midnight. For everybody's favorite part, we went out to the terrace. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1... And smiles, hugs, fireworks. There was a sales on fireworks at the shopping mall; however, I couldn't imagine this much. While the excess amount of colorful lights filled the sky with the smell of sulfur, I made a very cliche sounding wish. This time, I wished it harder than ever, coming from very inside. I wished for the one which consists all, "peace".

Actually, January is my favorite month of all year: cold, snowy and joyful. January here on the other hand, it started a little too cold. Like -25 degrees cold! I had never experienced such weather and clearly, it is not something to underestimate.  My right eye seemed to be infected, so I wanted to see if I can get any eye-drops or smth. Viikki health center was closed due to the holidays. In fifteen minutes walking distance, there is a university pharmacy (yliopiston apteekki) and I walked to there. I was layered, equipped with gloves, scarf and all. Still, I can swear, for a brief moment I thought my legs will freeze and won't move anymore. Next time, I learned wearing my thermal leggings inside my pants. While waiting for my number to come up, I got a bit warmed inside. Soon, it was my turn. I talked with the Finnish pharmacy student who gave me the number of the health center at the city center as a solution. In the end, a frozen trip for no nothing. Luckily, my eye got better itself next day.

On one of these cold days, me and *A went to city center. Our main goal was to visit White Cathedral because *A haven't been inside since she came here. Under the heavy snowfall, we reached the beautifully lightened building. The market square, actually everywhere in the city center, it was so peaceful. One aspect of the holidays, I love the most.

After our brief visit to the church, I took *A to a cozy cafe which left a special mark at my heart. A Finnish friend of mine, introduced me with Regatta and I just fell in love with the place. This small cottage is just by the sea, at the Töölö neighborhood. And the inside, it is even cozier: Filled with nostalgic items, brightened with candle lights, decorated a little like a fisherman's hut. They offer a long list of hot beverages just as it is needed in the frosty winter. If you ever come to Helsinki, it must be on your to do list.

Credit of this photo belongs to Alan, who went there couple of days after us. If your eyes are searching for the sea: The white, icy area between the cute red cottage and the houses far ahead; there it is. I told you, it gets that cold in Helsinki, Finland!