Helsinki is constantly more and more fun
"The best thing about Helsinki is acceptance. One good example of the fun thinking present in the city is the sauna located right in the middle of the Christmas market. It's nice to not be so serious all the time."
Christmas fanatic Kaisa Kuokka has always loved Helsinki. "I moved here 20 years ago and my love has just grown deeper. Helsinki is constantly more and more fun." Kuokka hails from the small south-eastern village of Ravijoki in Virolahti, Kymenlaakso. She moved to Helsinki right after highschool and got a summer job at the Iittala design shop in Arabianranta, a hub for classic Finnish design.
Kuokka's most precious Helsinki memories still link to her childhood. She used to travel to Helsinki by bus from Virolahti to stay with her great aunt in Töölö. "She bought a two-room apartment on Urheilukatu after the war. She had such little money back then that she would hover around the Meira coffee roastery to take in the scent of coffee and then go home to drink hot water. Whenever I pass by the roastery, I think of Töölö, my great aunt, and her sense of humour."
Kuokka would love to see more of lively everyday marketplace culture in Helsinki. The Hakaniemi Market Square is one of her favourite places in Helsinki. It also reminds of her childhood with her great aunt. "She received taxi coupons from the city. We would take a cab to the Töölö Market Square to buy potatoes from familiar potato vendors. It was a nice mix of city and countryside."
"Strangers greet each other on the streets of Katajanokka"
Kuokka's summer job at the design house Iittala led to an 18-year-long career in the house. She was first in charge of the brand's Helsinki shops and then of the loyal customer programme. Finally, she directed the company's digital marketing and brand content. During this period, the scent of the Arabia porcelain factory became very familiar to her. Nowadays Kuokka works in marketing planning at the Aivan design agency.
In her free time, Kuokka is known as a Christmas person. She has written a book about the 24 steps towards Christmas and kept a Christmas blog. She is currently pursuing this passion through her Christmas with Kaisa website.
Kuokka lives on Katajanokka and is proud of the community atmosphere of her home district. Strangers greet each other on the street, and the district's own resident Facebook group hosts active discussions. "If someone is looking for a jerrycan for petrol, someone else immediately say they have one and borrow it. I have also received help for fixing my bike tyre."
Kuokka has lived on Katajanokka for so long that just the thought of moving somewhere else makes her uncomfortable. She has gotten to know the people in her neighbourhood. Familiarity brings a feeling of safety. A special thank you goes out to the janitor Kalevi on Kauppiaankatu. "He creates such a feeling of community. Kalevi stays to chat with everyone on the street and shares anecdotes in the Katajanokka Facebook group. His number is probably in everyone's phone, and you can always call him."
Profession: Creative Marketing Strategist, Christmas fanatic
Lives in: Katajanokka
What you didn't know about me: "I'm not a big dessert fan and I often order an appetiser instead of dessert at the end. My favourite post-meal dishes are tartar and carpaccio."
I love to sit at the bar at Vinkkeli and chat with the staff. They welcome you and host you as if you were at their house. They always pour more wine when your glass is empty, and do not ask you how many measures you want.
The Helsinki Zoo Korkeasaari is a classic Helsinki place. We like to visit in the spring or later in the autumn when there are fewer tourists. I like the assemblage of buildings on the island, the animal caretakers, and the overall atmosphere.
A very dear place for me. We celebrated our wedding here. It is a very non-fussy place and the food is always very good.
A classic opening for the summer. The Swimming Stadium is a good place to spend a summer day with the kids. The master clown diver Jerobeam Salakyttä's diving show is a must-see every summer.
I have an interest in Finnish glass art and I worked at Iittala for 18 years. The Design Centre has alternating exhibitions and, for instance, ceramics throwing workshops. It's nice that such possibilities are organised even if the Arabia factory is no longer at Arabianranta.
We like to visit the Artek 2nd Cycle just to sit around and admire the furniture. We are very careful about purchasing furniture. For years, we used the same sofa my husband had since his student years because we couldn't decide what kind of sofa we would want to keep forever. We like to try out, ponder and feel out.
Crossfit is a dear hobby of mine. I have felt an amazing sense of community at the North Engine gym. I couldn't handle a sport like this if I didn't constantly have other people around for support and validation. This is a gym you can also visit without being a member.
I love to give myself plenty of time to do my grocery shopping. We often head to Hakaniemi for weekend shopping. The Hakaniemi Market Hall is the best. I really wish that the main market hall in the city centre would take a similar direction.