Yesterday we headed down to the Hakaniemi Market Hall for a small celebratory lunch (almost 100 days in Finland!). There are stacks of eateries around here, but we decided to go to the Soppakeittiö (= soup kitchen) because it comes highly recommended by locals (see for example its reviews at Eat.fi in Finnish or translated into GoogleEnglish) and by our guide book.
Five minutes walking had us at the market hall, where we were fortunate to find two free seats almost immediately. The market hall always seems to be full, and the Soppakeittiö contributes to that, with half of their 20 seats in the narrow passage between stalls. We grabbed two bar stool seats at one of the tall “interior” tables (i.e. out of the walkway), and tried to figure out how to order – one of two staff (the cooks-waiters-cleaners-cashiers) gently told us in English that we were meant to order at the counter before sitting down. I ordered the coconut & vegetable soup and Brigitte the beef & noodles soup – at €8 each it’s a fair price for a big bowl of soup and a big basket of fresh bread. The two open chairs at our table were soon taken up by two friendly Austrians, and it was really enjoyable to chat to them for a bit.
We then headed south across the pitkäsilta (= long bridge) and into Helsinki University’s original botanical gardens (the university’s much newer, second botanical garden is on the Kumpula campus, only a few minutes walk from my office). We’ve been delaying a visit to the gardens because of the gardens were slow to green with the warmer weather – but since everything looked green and lush we took a walk though (and since I want to practice my Finnish plant identification). It’s a lovely garden – not very big, but with lots of nooks and crannies. There is a set of rather impressive looking greenhouses (which we’ll visit on another day), some open lawns, a wooded section, and even a little pond where all the local birds were popping in for a drink.
Add in a little more exploring of the city centre, some house cleaning and shopping, and that was our Saturday.