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[Guest post] Book Review: The Helsinki Book, by Marc Aulén.

Finnish Culture, Foreigners in Finland, Helsinki sightseeing

Today we have a book review of “The Helsinki Book”, written by our lovely guest writer Sarah Laaru Mwaawaaru.

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Images are by Jaeseong Park and Marc Aulén. Enjoy! =)

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Text by Sarah Laaru Mwaawaaru, images by Jaeseong Park and Marc Aulén.

“When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

One thing is for sure: when visiting or moving into a new city in a foreign country, we all want to make the most of our stay. Hence there is a need to ask a local for pointers.

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So, you look to a city handbook or travel guidebook for a glimpse of your new city/country. There are other sources of information, also.

However, while there are many travel guidebooks and handbooks of great cities that promise you a good time during your stay, I have come to find most of them either too “touristic” for my taste or just lacking that interesting-factor for me to stay clued.

But hey, that’s just me.

Some of these travel guidebooks/handbooks are either too exhausting a read, or may not excite your senses. The obvious fact being that some of these traditional travel handbooks are a battle of “the must-dos and must-sees”, and they can leave you disappointed, since you miss a few important details.

Some of them lack one thing–the insight of a local who is so passionate about his/her city, urging you to check out all the cool, indigenous and inexpensive spots in town, museums, art places, market squares, festivals and other fun activities in hopes of their beautiful city taking your breath away and leaving you with wonderful memories and a priceless experience for a lifetime.

Of course, there are those unconventional guidebooks out there; edgy, straight to the point, contemporary if you like but none compares to the brilliance, humorous, and informative fun of Marc Aulén’s The Helsinki Book.

The list can go on…

But in a city, that is reinventing itself and constantly changing, how can one encapsulate the beauty of a city, yet be modest and edgy in just a book?

Yes, there is. Behold The Helsinki Book by Marc Aulén, photos by Jaeseong Park.

What is The Helsinki Book?

CAUTION: The Helsinki Book is not your traditional, the top “must-do, must-see, must-try and must-eat” guidebook.

Nope! It is even better.

The Helsinki Book gives you the entire “download” on what you need when and should you ever visit Finland’s capital city Helsinki.

Marc Aulén’s The Helsinki Book is a fun and easy-to-read illustrated book introducing Finland’s capital Helsinki, with beautiful pictures captured by the camera lens of his friend Jaeseong Park.

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The book also features some personalised autographs and notes from some of Finland’s familiar names like Sunrise Avenue’s songwriter Sam Huber, Tove Jansson and amongst others. It also includes over 10,000+ pictures and is a project that took a year and a half to complete.

I must say this book is a real beauty that will put a smile on your face.

Why “The Helsinki Book”?

Why not? This book…

  • …doesn’t bore you with an overload of familiar tourist pictures, leaving you wondering if you conquered the city or not.
  • …is vibrant in enriching you with either that familiarity or urge to explore more.
  • …adds to the already information you might have on Finland or Helsinki.

It is funny, descriptive and has done a wonderful job of marketing Helsinki and Finland at large.

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The Helsinki Book tells you nothing but the truth in an entertaining way. It amicably prepares you, for a bit of “strangeness” like why Finns might go to the sauna naked with strangers yet some have a hard time holding down “small talk”.

The book clearly outlines some of the brilliant achievements of the nation of Finland in a fun and accurate manner. It hasn’t left out weather tips, what to expect in summer and winter and some few Finnish humor.

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This book contains topics on famous places in Helsinki to go for a drink, best restaurants to eat, and some famous cafés where Finns enjoy their famous beverage; coffee. One of my favorite places is the Café Regatta just located by the sea. To explore town and enjoy a drink or two, you could ride around in the finest pub-tram, the Spårakoff.

And also remember to check out some of the important happenings in Helsinki like SLUSH, music festivals, concerts and the myriad summer activities that make the city, the best place to be in.

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Marc is a restaurant owner, so he has taken the patience to check out and list some of the familiar and interesting places to grab a bite. And to top it off, he adds a couple of his own recipes at the end.

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When it comes to travel guidebooks about Finland, irrespective of the city of choice, the lack of insight of a passionate storyteller pointing you in the right direction can be difficult.

Finland is home to some of the most amazing lakes, rivers, sights, sounds and beautiful spots, but then again which city do you travel to? If you pick Finland’s capital Helsinki, this city is beautiful and vast—and so you will need a navigating guide and a friendly hand.

Who is Marc Aulén?

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Marc Aulen is a storyteller and restaurant owner of a wonderful place called Qulma in Kruununhaka district. Upon visiting his restaurant Qulma, you can’t help but leave with a full tummy and a content smile. A food and a music lover, he also sings in a band called Seven Mugs, a cover band focusing on The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Pink Floyd just to mention a few.

The Helsinki Book has sold over 2,000 copies so far and is not Marc’s only book. His first book is a collection of some of his best soup recipes called Sopat! (Soups), which turned out to be a good seller in Finland.

Who should get this?

Whether you are a newcomer or a local like myself looking for new adventures in Helsinki city, this book offers you a piece of Helsinki.

In my opinion, this will forever be a perfect gift. Better yet, just visit Marc in Qulma, enjoy a meal, have a chat and get a signed copy of The Helsinki Book.

An online version of “The Helsinki Book” is upcoming.

For more info, do visit Marc Aulén’s website.  =)

-Sarah Laaru Mwaawaaru

The one reason why Finns are generally calm: Finnish forests.

Finnish People, Helsinki sightseeing, Things to do in Helsinki

You know, I’d always wondered why my Finnish friends are generally calm.

Then today I thought, could it be the forests?

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Imagine having forests all around you–whenever you study, work, play. Forests tell you that you are ultimately going to die one day. Forests also remind you how incredibly insignificant and small you are, in this big, huge cosmo of things. Their existence whisper the transience and ephemerality of this earthly life.

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Forests keep air clean and give you a healthy body. Forests tell you there is a flow to life, that everything has its own place and time, and there is a natural flow to things that Mother Nature will bless and bring. There’s no need to stress nor fight, because nature will take care of all these small little things.

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Also, forests teach you how to walk away to avoid conflicts. When you see a suspicious object/ person/ plant living being , don’t EAT THAT MUSHROOM! Just walk away instead of entertain strange encounters.

Haha.

Just saying.