#16: Take a dip at Kumpula outdoor swimming pool.

Active, All year, Architecture, Helsinki, Housing, Olympics, Outdoors, Walk

With the first signs of spring I believe it is apt to write about the unique outdoor swimming pool in Kumpula. Yay!

The swimming pool was actually built for the Olympics (together with the Swimming stadium), and it has recently been renovated maintaining the original 1950s outfit and feel. It is much cosier than the Swimming stadium (just off the main Olympics stadium), further away from the city centre, less known to tourists (as well as locals) and located in somehow more picturesque neighbourhood.

Kumpula, in fact, is yet another Helsinki’s wooden district pearl, and a home to a number of wealthy/educated individuals as well as artists (ha!). If I had to choose between Kaivopuisto and living in a wooden house with soul, oh I would not hesitate a second.

It is lovely. It lies relatively close to the centre, not too far from the busy E75 highway. It is quite smartly insulated from all the hustle and bustle by woods, and when you get there it feels as if you entered another world, or at least went back 100 years. Cosy shops, colourful wood, children playing everywhere. It feels so social – open common yards, people knowing each other, well, an idyllic neighbourhood really.

As I read on a blog on visithelsinki.fi, some of the houses were built for people displaced under the World War 2 – I think I should find out more about these people and their fates! In the 1990s, however, these houses had stood empty for some time. A group of social activists saved the day – they took over the houses and established a social housing organisation.

In the vicinity of the swimming pool lies the Kumpula botanical garden – about which I will write when there is actually something blooming 😉 or come and see it for yourself before me!

Contact details: Allastie 1. Bus stop Kumpula (buses 52, 55, 56, 506). The outdoor swimming pool opens around May every year. For opening times check out the website.

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#15: Climb the highest point of Helsinki

All year, Helsinki, Outdoors, Parks, Walk

The highest point in Helsinki lies in staggering 91m above sea level: on top of Malminkartanonhuippu hill located in Malminkartano (yes.). Adjacent to one of Vantaa’s rougher neighbourhoods, Myyrmäki. Well you know, rough in Finnish sense, which for anyone at least partly cosmopolitan means quirky yet laughably safe.

Malminkartanonhuippu is not a common hill (that would be geologically quite interesting in fact). It is an artificial hill. It was “created” over about 20 years in 1970-90s. It was built from rubbish – electric waste, tyres, etc. – and put together with help of dirt and sand and a lot of will power. I was just waiting for the moment when the Earth would shake a bit and a three-eyed fish would appear above the dirt/ice surface…

… nah, the hill is (apparently) pretty green and decent. Situated in a park (well, a common maybe), it is a popular spot for cross-country runners and other sport freaks (I mean enthusiasts), dog-walkers, families – and to my ardour for adult hobby sleighers! Yay!

There are several possible ways to reach the hill; as I came from Myyrmäki (where I was to check out the new museum) I chose to take the stairs. The stairs with 10cm thick layer of ice on them.

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Fortunately the boxing classes have payed off and I sort of pulled my weigh up the hill. If you are visiting in winter, I cannot recommend decent winter boots (or shoe spike) enough.

The weather was not as bad as it looks in the pictures (it did not rain or snow and there were a few rays of light), but a wool coat, slim jeans and boots with thin slippery sole were bad. I could hardly move anywhere, and I could not walk/slide down the hill either, it was simply too icy – and I did not have my pink bob-sleigh with me.

In summer I would recommend bringing packed lunch with you. And/or try to run up the stairs, apparently there is an annual race in that very discipline. And/or bring your MTB with you.

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And some February views? Not as impressive as from the Olympic Stadium tower, one is simply too far away from the centre, but truly Finnish: flat, forested land with occasional water tower or a housing project/shopping mall.

Address: Naapuripellontie, 00410 Malminkartano.

Bus 39N, 49, 51 (Neulastie); Marminkartano and Myyrmäki train stations are both a 15-20 min walk away.