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Helsinki snow and ice

Photo, Suomenlinna There are those who say the best time to visit Helsinki "is in summer, when Finns peel off their overcoats and flock to outdoor bars and cafes to enjoy the sunshine"[1], but frankly they're wrong. Helsinki in the winter snow is beautiful, from the ferry crunching through ice floes on its way to the island of Suomenlinna, to the silently snow-covered bay, the frozen river and silver birches, silver birching just like they do in the summer.

And unlike the UK (where snow is a surprise) the Finns get a lot of snow every year so they know how to deal with it: they shovel it out of the way and get on with things, so they're not brought to a standstill. Don't get me wrong, I like the standstill days when the whole nation can do nothing except have snowball fights! But it would take a lot of snowball fights to use this lot up, it's deep and it's everywhere.

I went out onto the frozen river, covered with ice and a thick layer of snow on top. People had been on the river - there were a couple of holes for diving in, and a snowman... but still, a frozen river in the middle of the city is a suddenly peaceful place.

And the aforementioned ferry. Definitely better in the winter. In the summer it's a pleasant boat ride, fine, but in the winter it crunches through ice, churning strangely-shaped lumps of ice into even stranger shapes, shuddering as it pushes its way through. There are ducks sitting on some of the chunks of ice - surprisingly unruffled by the ferry bearing down on them, barely bothering to move out of the way.

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