Welcome to my place ... Helsinki

For fashionistas, Marimekko is Finland’s Orla Kiely

Darragh Rogan and his wife Mirella, who is originally from Poland, moved to Helsinki three years ago. Their daughters Amelia and Hanna are growing up there.

Darragh Rogan and his wife Mirella, who is originally from Poland, moved to Helsinki three years ago. Their daughters Amelia and Hanna are growing up there.

 

Darragh Rogan is originally from Milltown in Dublin. He now lives in Helsinki in Finland, where he moved three years ago. His wife Mirella, is from Poland, and they have two daughters, Amelia and Hanna. Darragh works as a management consultant in design and configuration making power plants safe (among other things).

What do you like about living in Helsinki?

The quality of life – public transport works well, public services are easily accessed. As a young family it feels safe and we feel included. Intercity trains have playgrounds, because of course they would in Finland.

Where is the first place you bring people to when they visit Helsinki?

In summer there’s an island in the archipelago called Suomenlinna (about the size of Howth). It’s a 20-minute ferry ride and nice for a hike and bite to eat in one of the cafes there. Winter is another story – usually we stay in the city, maybe check out the art museum or the new Amos Rex museum. The Silent Chapel in Kampii is lovely and the Rock Church in Töölö is a marvel. To heat up, we go to Löyly’s fab sauna with a freezing Baltic sea experience, great food and stunning modern design.

Here is Darragh Rogan’s video about Helsinki https://youtu.be/t4s90kGQzbc

Top three things to do there, that don’t cost money, are: Stroll around Helsinki Design District in the south city. There are some cool modern design outlets, interspersed with a very active flea market scene;

Go to Linnanmäki amusement park to the north of the city. It’s free in and for a couple of the rides (including a ferris wheel with city views);

Haaga Rhododendron Park in June, where they successfully researched growing rhododendrons in the Finnish climate is a great place for a picnic.

Where do you recommend for a great meal that gives a flavour of Helsinki?

Top-notch Finnish cuisine is similar to Irish – strong meat or fish flavours and high-quality seasonal veg. Kuu Kuu in Töölö is a great place to go.

Normal Finnish food is all about the lunch buffet. Ravintola Factory in Kampii offers three courses with special pea soup and pancakes on Thursdays.

Then you need coffee. Finns are the world’s best Kahvi drinkers. Go to Cafe Regatta in Töölö – traditional wooden hut, rice pasty (Karelian pie) for children and strong coffee for adults.

Where is the best place to get a sense of Helsinki’s role in history?

The Finns aren’t a forceful people – they try not to be overassertive. You can pick up subtle hints about Helsinki as you stroll around the city’s buildings and see influences from every period. What’s more rewarding is to see how Finland evolved to become the place it is today. Coming out of the second World War they decided to become a welfare people-centric state. It shows in the Oodi Library near the train station and the generous provision allowed for cyclists and pedestrians who move about easier than richer drivers.

What should visitors save room in their suitcase for after a visit to Helsinki?

Controversial! Liquorice. Also, Lonkero – a Gin and Grapefruit long drink, concocted for the 1952 Olympics. For fashionistas, Marimekko is Finland’s Orla Kiely and for the young at heart something from the Moomin shop.

If you’d like to share your little black book of places to visit where you live overseas, please email your answers to the five questions above to abroad@irishtimes.com, including a brief description of what you do there and a photograph of yourself. We would love to hear from you

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