For the ones hustling to improve themselves and their urban life
Are you planning a trip to Helsinki or Finland for this winter? Have you had a look at the top fun activities and events taking place this winter? Some of them are already classics! Here we are going to pinpoint the top 10 things you should consider when coming here this Christmas.

  1. Helsinki, Aleksanterinkatu Street, 22nd of November. One of the most famous shopping streets of the capital will turn its Christmas season lights on and invite everyone to celebrate, including Santa Claus who will be present to greet the kids and not so kids. It definitely means Christmas is coming!
  2. Helsinki, Aleksanterinkatu Street, November, Stockmann Window. It's already a tradition for the locals and their little ones to await with excitement the window revealing at Stockmann's Department store that every year opens with a new fun display.
  3. Helsinki, Railway Station (Rautatientori), 28th of November, IcePark. Get your skates and bravery on! This annual event brings the skilled skaters (and not so skilled) in the heart of the city, right in front of the Railway Station to skate and have fun! The entrance fee is 6€/adult and 3€/minors under 18/students/seniors/unemployed. You can rent the skates so don't worry if you don't have your own pair! Just come and bring your fun!
  4. Helsinki, Senate Square, 4th-22nd of December, St. Thomas Christmas Market. An annual event nobody wants to miss while in Helsinki for Christmas! This year the renewed market comes back with the beautiful Dutch carousel for the extra excitement! A perfect event to attend for everyone to enjoy while sipping on Glögi (mulled wine) and enjoy an unique shopping time! There will be crafts, toys, decorations, clothes, food and even a Christmas Sauna! Obviously, free entry.
  5. Helsinki, Wanha Satama in Katajanokka District, 2nd-6th December, Women's Christmas Fair. This lovely event organized since 1922 gives the opportunity for more than 370 women from Finland to exhibit and sell their hand-made products, from clothes, decorations and crafts, jewelry, candles and more to a special corner only for the delicious home-made Christmas treats you will be able to purchase. Who doesn't love an original and consciously made souvenir? Free entry.
  6. Helsinki, Cable Factory, Tallberginkatu 1, 11th-20th of December, Kaapeli's Christmas. A lovely place to attend with the little ones! This event celebrated in the city's hip Cable Factory offers a wide range of events and activities so everyone gets involved and feels the Christmas! There will be clothes (for babies and toddlers as well), jewellery, home decoration products, accessories and gifts, food (like delicious hand-made chocolates from Chjoko) and cosmetics for everyone's taste and size.
  7. Helsinki, Senate Square, 13th of December, St. Lucia Coronation Parade. This celebration mostly borrowed from Sweden is something many locals are looking forward in December. The girl that has been selected to perform as St. Lucia is carefully carrying a crown of burning candles to enlight her way every 13th of December walking down from her coronation in front of the Cathedral. This event celebrated since 1949 in the Senate Square lightens up the short winter days and brings the Christmas atmosphere to everyone's heart, religious or not.
  8. Helsinki, Suomenlinna Fortress, 28th November - 6th of January 2016, Trail of the Fortress Gnome. If you've never visited Suomenlinna Fortress and you are looking for something fun and atmospheric this event is for you. Pick up your map and try to find the Finnish Gnomes along the way through the island. Once you've spotted the Gnomes and finished your route, return the map to the Visitor Center at the Jetty Barracks and they will have a surprise for you since you've successfully completed the trail. And no, this is not only for kids. Free of charge, loaded with excitement!
  9. Helsinki, Seurasaari Island, 13th of December, Seurasaari Christmas Path. There is no adult nor kid that can resist not going to this event, most likely it will be crowded since it's on a Sunday but... it is surely worth! If it's your first time in Helsinki for Christmas, regardless your age you are welcome to attend the Christmas Path and best is that is free of charge as well! You will be able to explore and discover the Christmas traditions from old times and how it was celebrated. This is the perfect event for your little ones too! They will have fun exploring and learning and even get to eat gingerbread and porridge!
  10. Helsinki, Senate Square and Surroundings, 6th-10th January 2016, Lux Helsinki. If you are still in the capital area after the New Year celebrations (which you shouldn't miss, with free concert in the Senate Square and amazing fireworks) be sure to check the different spots of the city that will be strategically and artistically lighted with beautiful projections. The beautiful capital will be bursting in colors and lights during the darkest days of the winter.

Are you coming to Helsinki this year? What are your plans? Drop me a comment below!
If you've been visiting Helsinki, guided or not, I am sure you've came across this beautiful red, white and yellow brick building by the shore along the Eteläranta. I remember the sad but exciting times in 2014 when this was closed for renovation, but definitely worth the waiting! 

The Old Market Hall (also called in Finnish Vanha Kauppahalli) is a must for every Helsinkian to know and for every tourist to see and experience. It offers an amazing array of stalls selling delicatessen-style of bites, including some unusual tastes like bear meat. The market is a perfect place to stop in wintertime during those chilly days when one needs to warm up his/her fingers and sip on something cozy! The bakery goods here are impressive and always surprising!

  • The stall number 9 will delight cheese fans with a wide and diverse variety of cheese. Juustokauppa Tuula Paalanen offers great service and tasty fresh diary products (milk inlcuded!). Sometimes you can stop by for a small free tasting! Yummy!

  • Robert's Coffee, the café chain now spread all over Helsinki which you have probably noticed, has its own oldest café here offering breakfast options, lunch and some snacks for after-work. An easy way to have lunch while rolling through the city is to stop by and grab one of their cured salmon or whitefish toasts!

  • Another of my favorite stalls is actually a café and cake shop, Röntgren Café & Conditorei situated right in the center of the market hall, a new addition which came all way from Germany being family-owned ever since 1870. They serve take-away for all of their treats that include coffee, cakes, chocolates and even ice-creams and delicious fish sandwiches and German sausage perfect for the hungry ones!

  • In my top 4 favorite stalls of the Market, something that I can't skip mentioning ever since I came to Helsinki and I had the chance to taste their goodies in Runeberginkatu 31, is PetriS Chocolate Room. This is the place for chocolate lovers and who can't survive the week without this treat! Their stall will take your breath away not only because of the delicious looking cakes and all sorts of chocolaty treats but also because these are hand-made so precisely and beautifully divine looking and tasting bites of Heaven! They also have their own bakery and offer locally roasted coffee options too or loose tea. Is there something you're missing? 

Yesterday the market held a tasting session between 16-21:00. There was live music by young artists and even a magician to accompany the delicious bites, affordable for everyone! People were crowding up (of course as usual) to taste the wine and everyone was sipping on a glass of something. Surprisingly it was not really crowded however, I made my way to PetriS Chocolate Room and tried one of their delicious strawberry-champagne cakes! A-ma-zing! We also have some chocolate tartlets. On our way back we grabbed a little fish salad to share and the flavors were lovely! Unfortunately this tasting session is over but most importantly to remember is that this premise offers top-notch service and products, locally sourced or fresh, gourmetsy and delicious bites for you and tourists to taste and remember Helsinki through the stomach!

Good Friday from Helsinki!

Did you know honey and cinnamon have antibacterial properties? Using masks is highly beneficial especially with the arrival of autumn and winter when weather changes and temperature drops outside. Your skin might start to feel dry and you might notice some changes also regarding blemishes. When your skin gets dry it's extremely important to rehydrate and not only by drinking a lot of water but also by making sure you get the right nutrients through your food.

Today I have prepared a face mask for a friend of mine who has been struggling with skin irregularities and blemishes since autumn has kicked in with freezing temperatures at evening! For the preparation I made sure to use ALL ORGANIC ingredients and that is truly important! You need to control and know what you are putting on your face, just the same way you should be careful with the ingredients you consume. I know is not always possible to get these but in Europe and USA should be fairly common to get them at your local supermarket.

☂ 4 tablespoons of organic oats
☂ half of a medium organic cucumber
☂ 2 tablespoons of flower clear honey
☂ juice of 1 organic lemon

Blend it all! Not too much! If you overdo the blending process, the mask will be too liquid, so you will need to add more oats and blend only 5 seconds more.


Wash your face with warm water, don't dry. Apply to your face and massage gently so you exfoliate your skin. Allow 15-20 minutes while you are checking on your favorite bloggers, videos or even cooking dinner (you might scare one or two!) and rinse with cold water and dry.

This mask is going to absorb extra oil from your skin and unclog your pores while leaving your skin clear and clean! Apply for two weeks every 3 days.

Refreshing! What is your favorite face mask? Drop me a comment below!

Yesterday I had the chance to finally visit the Design Museum in Helsinki located in the fun Design District downtown. The building is located in the Kaartinkaupunki neighbourhood in Ullanlinna district, among the beautiful street of Korkevuorenkatu number 23 ever since 1873. Designed in a neo-Gothic style and by the famous architect Gustaf Nyström, its premises have first been used as a school, Brobergska Samskolan high-school, with the first graders in the current cafeteria and a gym on the second floor!

The building has started to be used as a museum since 1978 onwards holding exhibitions and collections of Finnish and foreign design (industrial, graphic and fashion). However always expect to find the Finnish design exhibition as it's part of the permanent collection. The museum holds more than 75,000 objects, 45,000 drawings and 125,000 pictures registering a total of 1000 designers.
The original collection, since 1873, was established by the Finnish Society of Crafts and Design for the needs of the past Craft School of Helsinki (currently Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture). The museum's first 700 objects were acquired at the Vienna World Fair in 1873. These objects are still to be spotted in the museum among the rest of the pieces by the different artists representing.

Before visiting the museum I had a look at their website and found out that this museum offers free entrance every last Tuesday of the month between 17-20:00! I couldn't miss the chance not going! So I had a look at the current exhibitions, The Century Of The Child and Design In China Now. 
Learning that The Century Of The Child exhibits Nordic design for children (from clothes, toys to advertisements), this exhibition exposes pieces from 1900 to 2000 as furniture, toys, books, wardrobe, architectural designs for public and playground areas, health care and other projects directed to children's aid (like the LIFESAVER portable tubes for water filtration). You can find different designers here as Alvar Aalto, Kay Bojesen, Tove Jansson among others.

My favorite piece, which if I am not mistaken is by Bryk Rut.

The other exhibition currently available at the Design Museum was also Design In China Now, exposing objects of Chinese design where you will see how tradition blends with high-quality modern procedures and materials (furniture, jewellery, etc). 

Wardrobe by different world-known designers
Having this said, reaching the museum around 17:00 sharp, I've started from downstairs with the ceiling lamps and ended playing a level of Angry Birds in the last section on first floor while reading about the Nokia phones and a funny ergonomic computer seat (Finns love their computer-time!).

Before reaching the museum, the walk to the premise itself has been truly enjoyable. You can reach through crossing to Korkeavuorenkatu from Esplanadi and just walking up straight. If you start your journey from Esplanadi then look for the Café-Kioski cabin, cross the street and follow the street up in front this cabin, that is Korkevuorenkatu.

However, don't expect a huge place! If you are coming with expectations from Louvre or Prado, this might be a little different than your illusions. Enjoy it and get yourself a lovely souvenir from the Design Shop in the first floor. There are truly interesting and original things, from books to easy-to-use sushi sticks only found here!

- Adults 10e
- Pensioners 8e
- Students (have your student card with you) 5e
- Comprehensive School Pupils FREE
- Friend of Museum FREE
- Museum Card FREE
- Last Tuesday of the month between 17-20:00, FREE!

Yesterday I have posted a picture of our sweet treat I have prepared with organic ingredients I had on hand, among them cocoa nibs. I got to say lately we're so overwhelmed with all these trendy foods we forget to learn about them, we only see what they sell. It's good to learn about food, ways of eating it and its benefits. That's the reason today we will talk about COCOA NIBS from the healthy perspective and how to use them, as for instance I did, with my Cocoa Shake (which btw, is absolutely delicious for your sweet cravings).

What do you know about cocoa nibs? Well, I would consider them as superfood as blueberries! They have antioxidant properties helping you to stay young and fresh inside-out and a good amount of flavonoids that according to some studies would prevent cancer and Alzheimer's disease. Remember we are talking about the cocoa beans/nibs and not about chocolate! This is why they say the darker the chocolate the better.
Another benefit I knew almost since I was a teenager, was the positive impact that cocoa has on the blood pressure and heart's strength and health (you can find evidence in a published study under the name of "Archives of Internal Medicine") and how this superfood fights against cardiovascular conditions and boosts longevity.

A perfectly healthy treat for you, your kids or anyone visiting.
This is the part that most ladies love about chocolate and cocoa: a perfectly healthy and low-calorie snack which can be addicting (if consumed with sugar especially). Naturally these beans are sugar-free hence they make the perfect snack and sweet-tooth satisfier if eaten alone, providing you with a good amount of fiber (11g of fiber out of 28 g of cocoa nibs!) and that will feel amazing for your digestion and losing weight!
These delicious little bites are also a good source of copper (important for your hemoglobin production) boosting your energy level and produces connecting tissue (the thing that protects your nerves and gives your skin that amazing elasticity that will keep you forever young). Another great sources are manganese and iron, which will help you with building strong bones and immune system.

Now having the good things said, you need to be careful with these goodies too. Cocoa beans contain caffeine as well as theobromine (stimulant) which means that exaggerating with its consumption might cause you anxiety, fast heart rhythms or abnormalities, sleeplessness (oh I have this one proven!). So just make sure you don't overload yourself or...indulge too much on their goodness.

What's your favorite dessert with cocoa? Have you tried cocoa nibs before?

Do you use a bag when you leave home? Do you take a wallet with you every time you go run an errand? Are you a recent graduate seeking opportunities desperately? You should check your bag before leaving home. Opportunities might not want to wait for you to grab a pen when needed.

After going through my last month's experiences, being a recent graduate in a field that the Nordic countries are not really counting on (and if they do, they're too shy to admit it - see my last article) is not quite easy. Opportunities are minimal here and even worse if you don't speak the language (oh yes, not to worry I am on my way learning Finnish already). We find ourself complaining and frustrated thinking all these years of university courses, exams and stress have passed and here we are, sitting and clicking through recruiting websites with infinite Requirements lists. 

Being prepared is something everyone should master in their early career life. Some trains might stop and wait for you to get on board, some might just skip your stop. Whatcha gonna do about it? Be prepared if it stops, don't miss the chance and take advantage of your skills everyday, even when you're reading this (meaning, just skip to the juicy content, prioritize).
If you're a girl, make sure you have your bag filled with these essentials and ditch your extra sparkly eye-liner! And if you're a guy, carrying your backpack or fancy leather business-like bag, please don't skip these. They might save you!

1. A blue ink pen. Why? You never know what you might sign and you want to know the difference between an original and a photocopied document, don't you? It is not recommended carrying a gel pen with you every day if you don't want to make a mess. Grab a regular Bic or your fancy Montblanc if you wish, but avoid gel pens.

2. A notepad. You will always thank yourself for carrying these with you. You might need to write down a reference number, a street name if you suddenly get a call while you're out from one of those jobs you've applied to.

3. PostIts. Oh yes, these yellow buddies know how to save you if you need to quickly attach them to whatever, documents, packages, or as messages.

4. A bunch of copies of your Résumé. Have these in hand when you get out. You never know who you might meet, where and it might be convenient to introduce yourself by handing in a CV.

5. An extra textile bag. If you're still active within your field of study and always looking for self improvement (which you should), I suppose you visit libraries. Well, you might need something to carry your piles of knowledge.

6. Business cards. They might tell you that you're too young for owning a business card since you're still looking for you first job. Well no. As a recent graduate you need to make yourself stand out from the crowd and the best thing you can do is professionally introduce yourself to anyone that means business for you graciously handing a card. There are many centers in Helsinki to get them done and designed or you can be creative, create yours and print them at your favorite center and save money. Remember to add a nice texture to it.

7. An extra battery or Power Bank for your Smartphone. These have become a must in everyone's life lately, saving you from a dead phone, these should be in your bag wherever you go. Make sure they are charged beforehand and keep them close. Recently I almost missed a job call because my phone was 8%. Will never do that again.

8. Your planner, as an app or diary. Personally I prefer a little pocket planner. I have tried the best apps out there and there's nothing better than your own hand writing and organization schemes. We work differently, what to a person might look organized and practical, to other might look like a mess. If you've found a worthy app, please drop me a comment! Wouldn't mind trying it out.

9. An inspirational book. Just like when unemployed people try to get inspiration and motivation through interesting readings, you should do just the same, and even more if these have an educational purpose. One of my favorites lately is "The 4-Hour Workweek" by Tim Ferriss (I won't spoil it for you but it is a MUST if you're looking for something motivational and beyond average).

10. Well, not a bag item but something very important: A watch. Yes, your smartphone has a watch too, true that but there is nothing more classy and accurate than a good old watch. Invest in one because you will need it throughout your career. Being in time is not a trend, it's a rule of the adulthood life you've just entered. Don't mess with time or it will mess with you. Always be 15 minutes earlier.

Were you missing any of these items in your bag?

For the last past years I have been very aware of Helsinki's accommodation trends. Seen how with the political sanctions the city has suffered a breakdown in booked nights by the Russian segment and it is still not over, but, what does the marketing campaign of individual hotels about it? Personally, I haven't seen much. As a reminder, the foreign segment is still bringing more volume than the national, yet how many hotels are advertising or balancing their marketing content when comes to this? Personally, I have seen a lot of text in Finnish, uploaded content to Social Media with no translation to any other language. Interesting, isn't it?

Despite of the plummet, the Russian market is still the dominant within the foreign countries of origins for the bookings in Helsinki, followed by Germany and Great Britain. Let's say all these three countries travel to Helsinki in a healthy balance between business and leisure purposes. It is quite easy to break down the numbers if we would be able to look at different periods of the year, months and we would analyze the biggest travel segments we have had. Trends then would be pulled out and we would have a juicy piece of information with, what's coming next month, what's the usual trend and what actions should be taken, what strings to lose and what strings to pull tight. Assuring the business travellers is a must and a concern for most hotels in Helsinki, I imagine, since the city depends on business tourism a good amount of months on a year. Fair enough. 

But hey, does the renewal of the contract with your biggest fish mean that you should forget about your image? Or that, they wouldn't care if you're not being distinctive, refreshed, updated or active?

I think many things are taken for granted within the industry in the Finnish capital after closing up THE deal with the fattest fish of the year and how often businesses forget to accentuate their monthly, weekly, daily effort into the dominant travel motivator: leisure. Where are the fun ads? Where are the fun strategic discount ads in Social Media? Where are the colors and the scheduled updates on these channels? I see so many abandoned Twitter and Instagram accounts, and let's just not forget about the inexistent accounts and how many hotels lack of a current digital marketing strategy. 

Helsinki's accommodation market is beyond shy advertising itself. It's almost inexistent. I miss a larger linkage and bond with the local DMO, though at the same time I understand the reasons why to draw a dry line between in most cases, but in the current situation within Finnish travel industry I do miss a clearer connection and effort between hotels and DMO. After all, shall we see the common interest and forget a minute about what's private and what's public? Travellers are going to be counted and put down on papers in forms of statistics at the end of the day, influx and revenues are driving the statistical images of the travel industry. Why not to join into an alliance and draw these incomes further?

To be more clear, I have an example of what I like to call "shy marketing" (or when one underestimates its own power). Let's talk about the Case of the Christmas period in Helsinki.
It's almost October now. Christmas is a big deal for everyone, especially because most families prefer to gather at home, cozily, talk, eat, enjoy each other's company and share moments together. Yes, you heard it well, SHARE MOMENTS TOGETHER. Do you think the panorama wouldn't change a bit more if hotels in the capital area would come up with planned discounts for the Christmas period for families (with/out kids) and maybe even, arrangements for these to be transported to Lapland for a fun Joulupukki visit? 

I am currently following all hotels (with a social media channel) in the capital area, and none, for now, has advertised anything about Christmas yet (Well Sokos did share 2 nice pictures on their Instagram regarding their property in Rovaniemi with text in Finnish and no English translation, which is a pity). Ok, I will be patient and wait but tell you what... I have been here previous years and the story is the same. I can only imagine the management team meeting on 1st of December mumbling "So, it's December, we all know this month is not really profitable, so let's just proceed with the plans for the upcoming year". No no no no! You're planning the upcoming year when you're currently not taking care of the current month! One of the months that could be among the most profitable if it would be wisely advertised!
After observing the Finnish travel industry, I think the Christmas advertisements should not only just EXIST (duh?!...) but come in early enough (wanderlusts, travellers with a purpose, the indecisive and families will take their time to plan and actually be convinced you want them to come to you). During these busy and profitable months of summer, take the Marketing Manager's sleeve if there happens to be one and ask kindly if they could already come with an outstanding Christmas campaign. One of those that would once and for all settle the eternal battle between Sweden and Finland on "Where is Santa from?". 

A planned and early attractive Christmas campaign, coming at the right time and directed to a completely different segment for December, targeting families, couples...add juicy yet reasonable prices (because anyway you will do it with or without a campaign, let's be honest) and a joyful bundle of activities (if you're telling me Helsinki doesn't have enough fun for December you should then book yourself a trip here already - even as a local) from Opera tickets to trips or Christmas events in the city and as previously mentioned, a bilateral agreement with an accommodation in Rovaniemi for a couple of days experiencing the best of both poles of Finland. What's better than that, huh?

I know you might think it sounds crazy?! Rovaniemi and Helsinki working together while at the same time competing? Oh oh! Well I am not sure if this has been tried before so ain't no one will say it won't work. Plus, if planned wisely it's a win win for both sides of the party. Rovaniemi is already a well known destination for its winter fun, while Helsinki has its cultural and more arty fartsy side, museums and overall more "adult stuff" to be done down here. 

All summed up in an equation which I would call "Successful Helsinkian Hotelier's Marketing"
agility - nordic modesty + young innovative talents - negligence + planning + creativity + yes!attitude + bilateral agreement + DMO+ SoMe updated accounts + monitoring = SUCCESS

What are your thoughts in this? I would love hearing everything and especially if you disagree with something please feel free to drop me a comment down below! 

See you soon #helsinGEEKS !