#HelsinkiSecret Residence: Greta & Valentina
Elisabeth Heinrichs May 5, 2016

From the beginning of 2016, the #HelsinkiSecret Residence serves as a base for international social media influencers reporting from the city center of Helsinki. The #HelsinkiSecret Residence is an initiative by Visit Helsinki and represents a globally unique form of city marketing utilizing social media. The residence comprises a studio apartment in the city center that will be open for the entire year, accommodating up to 100 international social media influencers with expertise in tourism, start-ups, education and the creative industries, for example. The #HelsinkiSecret Residence is a great example of the distinct, multi-sectored and partner-based form of marketing that Visit Helsinki believes in.

During their one-week-stay in Helsinki, Greta & Valentina met local wine expert Ilkka Sirén on air at Radio Helsinki’s radio station for their radio interview. Photo: Radio Helsinki
During their one-week-stay in Helsinki, Valentina & Greta met local wine expert Ilkka Sirén on air at Radio Helsinki’s radio station for their radio interview. Photo: Radio Helsinki

In the beginning of March, the #HelsinkiSecret Residence welcomed Italian Greta & Valentina. This blog post showcases their favorite memories of Helsinki.

Greta: “To come home every night to an apartment with your things, your smell, your food to eat in the fridge… puts you in front of a very different situation from that of the classic traveler who come back to a hotel or hostel. The Aallonkoti Apartment Hotel is a modern and functional residence. In my apartment I found everything I needed for everyday life: a washing machine, dishwasher, microwave, towels, sheets and, thanks to #heleats, also a delicious supply of typical food products.

I’ve never spent seven days in one single city before. During such a long time, you get to know it from new points of view, read more details, really discover its secrets: Meeting the locals. Interact with them everyday matters. Doing grocery shopping, to find myself invited to a concert of two historic New York rappers in Edu Ke­hä­ket­tu­nen’s company (DJ of Radio Helsinki). And go. Taking half an hour to find where the entrance to the room is, in the suburbs. And find out, at the entrance, that in nightclubs water is free and it’s in bottles – but you can drink it from clean glasses that you’ll find in the corner of the bar! Those things are the ones that I love discovering. Those little details that usually remember with more clarity and will radically identify that country in my head.

And what about the public sauna experience in town? I felt like a local in Helsinki during her usual “seat” weekly sauna. All women, who shared those moments with us were nice and friendly: in the sauna they seemed happy to have two awkward strangers who tried to imitate them in everything.

Helsinki is much smaller than you might imagine. You get used to the trams and the only metro line, so it’s easy to reach every corner of the city. But always keep in mind that it’s nice to walk as well – walks don’t scare the Finns and should/will not scare you! The cold and the snow of March do not stop anyone.

The inhabitants of Helsinki have welcomed me in a friendly manner. I felt like one of them (not only because I’m blonde with blue eyes so I look like them)!

When I closed the door and returned the keys, the sadness came. My house, my husband and my cats were missing me a lot but that “everyday life & Helsinki lifestyle” had already incredibly a place in my heart.

The #HelsinkiSecret Residence is not a blog tour, it is not a holiday, it is not a journey. It’s a unique experience that begins by showing its residents the many opportunities offered by this Northern city. Depending on who you are and who you meet on your way, every day is different, just as if this were your everyday life.”

Helsinki's southern harbor. Photo: Greta Dealessi
Helsinki’s southern harbor with ice. Photo: Greta Dealessi
Helsinki's southern harbor. Photo: Greta Dealessi
Helsinki’s southern harbor. Photo: Greta Dealessi
Greta & Valentina, photo provided by Greta Dealessi
Greta & Valentina in the #HelsinkiSecret Residence, photo provided by Greta Dealessi

TOP 3 Places:

Restaurant Savotta: Not a restaurant, but a complete experience. Courtesy here is the first thing that you will find. Then came the beautiful traditional costumes of the waiters, the delicious dishes (do not miss the reindeer fillet!), to finish with smiles and hugs!

 

Goodio Chocolate Factory: Jukka, the owner of the most gracious organic chocolate factory welcomed us with open arms and has spoiled us making us taste dozens of unbelievable tastes of chocolate. We found out how in two small rooms they can create a product that is not only good but it has such a deep meaning, it’s priceless!

 

Suomenlinna Sea Fortress Island: “Everyone dreams of living sooner or later in Suomenlinna”. It was told when I arrived in Helsinki. The fortress island is a bouquet of flowers and a piece of history just 10 minutes by ferry from the busy Market Square. Stroll through the ancient rusty cannons, craft shops and charming tea rooms. A curious mix difficult to find elsewhere.

Restaurant Savotta. Photo: Greta Dealessi
Restaurant Savotta. Photo: Greta Dealessi

 

Top 3 Experiences:

Sauna Hermanni: No Finn gives up to this tradition. The sauna ritual is sacred, not to be missed, even for those of us who want to immerse themselves in the culture of the country in depth. The best experience was try a public sauna where we were welcomed with kindness and familiarity. It’s easy to feel at ease even when we had no idea how to behave.

 

– Rap concert at Kuudes Linja: Out of the blue we were invited to a concert in a local suburb, we got the invitation on a Wednesday and it was for that same evening. You want to give up? We discovered the local nightlife and incredible kindness of the Finns!

 

Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra in Helsinki Music Centre (Musiikkitalo): Hear for the first time a classical concert wearing a pair of snow boots. Experience a little ‘awkwardness’ but something completely unique! At the first notes of the violins I had goose bumps. We were lucky: a magnificent concert enhanced by the new Helsinki Music Centre’s (Musiikkitalo) perfect acoustics.

 

Greta’s social media platforms:

Blog

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

 

Valentina’s social media platforms:

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Read more about the #HelsinkiSecret Residence