Day 2: Marimekko, Ruokala Lokki and the Aalto Cafe

A few quick days really goes by fast, I was already on the last day of my mini-weekend getaway. This morning, I was off to the Helsinki suburb of Herttoniemi to visit the corporate headquarters for Marimekko, a well-known Finnish design company known for its patterned (often colorful) fabrics and housewares. I visited the showrooms which showcased some of the latest as well as upcoming collections, but most importantly the factory. Since the month of July is the time for vacations in Finland, the factory was not in operation, so I got to see a very different side to the operation. As photos were not allowed inside, I’ll post some official photos as provided by Marimekko when the post goes up on DesignsWeLove.

Marimekko store Herttoniemi

After the tour, it was shopping time. The headquarters had its own store as well as an outlet store which opened at 10am. Most people come all the way out here really for the outlet, as many of the items have been heavily discounted. The photos posted here are from the non-outlet portion of the store, as (again) photos were not allowed in the outlet.

Marimekko store Herttoniemi

In trying to fulfill the shopping lists of friends, I ended up in two other stores in Kamppi as well as the flagship store on the Esplanadi before finally heading for lunch. My lunch plan was to visit a restaurant called Kahvila Suomi, which is the setting for the 2006 Japanese film Ruokala Lokki, or Kamome (seagull) Diner. This film definitely had its own following in Japan, as many of the restaurant’s patrons were Japanese. I even overheard one of the Japanese tourists said, “Wow, this is just like Japan (with all of the Japanese people)!)

Kahvila Suomi Restaurant - Ruokala Lokki

Kahvila Suomi Restaurant - Ruokala Lokki

The food was not too bad. For 9 Euros I got a salad, a drink and a main dish – fried fish in my case – and with a side of French fries. On top of that, for 1,80 Euro I purchased the cinnamon bun that was featured in the film. I ate well, but deep inside I was expecting something special, but didn’t get that. It was just a nice way to spend some time indoors on a rainy day.

Kahvila Suomi Restaurant - Ruokala Lokki

Interestingly enough, the skies began to clear up as I walked out of the restaurant. I just walked and walked as I normally would do in a city these days; I don’t necessarily have to have a destination – ’cause with that you may experience a different side of the city. Well, I wandered a bit and I was inside the Academic Bookstore and ran into the Aalto Cafe, named after the famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, who also designed the interior of the cafe. I ordered the mango ice cream with lingonberries and caramel on top – and with whipped cream. I coupled it with a nice hot cup of cappuccino to balance things out.

Cafe Aalto

Cafe Aalto

It seems my day was basically shopping and eating, right? Well, there’s one more. Dinner.

I searched and searched for a place to eat for dinner but couldn’t find anything for an hour. Many of the restaurants are closed for midsummer holidays. My original choice for dinner was Eat&Joy, a place I saw on the NY Times feature for Helsinki. They were closed too, so I ended up at the Central Railway Station for hot dogs. Yep. That’s what I ended up with. The first photo is Eat&Joy, and the second you can figure out.

Helsinki Eat and Joy

Hot Dogs

Of course, you can’t leave Helsinki without having dessert at Kappeli Cafe. So I got myself a Kappeli’s Cake and a cappuccino to finish the evening on a good note. And it’s still bright at 10pm.

Kappeli Exterior

Kappeli Cake

Until next time, Helsinki. I hope it won’t be another ten years til I meet you again.

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