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Seaside coffee

Last week I went to Helsinki to visit my younger brother Jarkko and his girflfriend Johanna. I spent there two days, meeting a some of my dear friends and seeing two dance performances. First evening it was Deca Dance Helsinki (coreography by Ohad Naharin) at Finnish National Opera - Johanna danced in that. And the second evening I went to see "Kaarina Maununtytär" (c. by Aku Ahjolinna) in Alexander Theatre - Jarkko dancing the male lead role. After Deca Dance we gathered in a pub and had a very good discussion about practicing and performing a coreography.

Well, my two days trip was full of nice things and merry encounters, and there would be a lot to write about. But it has been already a week gone and I haven't found time to write anything, so now I'll just pick one theme and leave the rest.

An old friend from the University years contacted me, and we agreed to meet at Cafe Regatta. The place is a cozy small cafeteria by seaside, not so far away from the centre of Helsinki. On their yard they have a small camp-fire, and next to the fire there are benches made of split logs, reindeer furs placed on the benches. Customers are free to add firewood as needed, and one can even buy a sausage to grill. I was there a bit before my friend, and as I haven't yet had any breakfast I went indoors to buy coffee, apple juice, a cheese roll and a croissant. Carrying all of the foodstuff packed on tray I said I'll go eat outdoors. The lady behind the counter pulled a rope which made the door swing open.

I was slowly sipping my coffee by the fire when an unkown man came to ask if it is OK to add firewood to the fire. I nodded. The man looked like he had spent the last night in a pub - he added firewood and mentioned something about how he likes the aroma of smoke. Soon we were having a peacefull discussion about how the aroma of the burning camp fire means safety, warmth and home - but nowadays so many people get fooled by artificial aromas and get alienated to natural basic aromas.

My friend came there also - it must be over ten years since we were studying Philosophy at The University. He has continued his studies, whereas I have been mostly doing practical things and going to therapy. It was nice to see how quickly and easily we picked a conversationg, floating freely from personal life to philosophical questions and back. Well, of course the internet might play a role here, as for the past couple of years we have been slowly communicating in the social media. But, thinking of it, I remembered how we students not only sat in a pub, but we also went outdoors to have a camp-fire in the woods. And now we were here, in the capital city, sitting by a fire next to the sea, having coffee and enjoying a philosophical discussion. We went to refill our coffee mugs, and I was amused to learn that it is not only free, but actually the customer is given a 5 cent coin for each refill of coffee. I know there are places where you can get a refill for a half price, or even for free - but here they effectively have a negative price of 0.05 € for a refill!

Finland likes to promote our talent in information technology, our contemporary design and art. And almost in the centre of the capital city we have this small cafe with a slightly anarchistic DIY atmosphere; instead of a mobile app they open the door with a mechanism made of a rope and pulleys. Instead of design furniture they have split logs and a real fire. Next to the cafe, floating in the bay of the sea they had a small boat with a text "this is a boat" painted on it. Sure this is one of my favourite places in Helsinki! (Ah, and it was nice to dress up in fine clothes and go to the National Opera, but it was equally nice to change back to my ordinary gear and go sit outdoors by a fire)

When I was about to leave my friend offered to lend me a book about moral psychology and philosophy. I gladly accepted. I took a late evening train and went to the dining car to read the book. More about that in the blog posts to come =)

on my way to Finnish National Opera House
on my way to Finnish National Opera House
Coffee by seaside
Coffee by seaside
Cafe Regatta
Cafe Regatta
travelling by train
travelling by train
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And Cafe Regatta also has a guitar for customers to play. And service for dogs. If someone doesn't have cash (they don't accept credit cards) they still serve and simply ask her(him)to come and pay later. Cool place.

Ah, a guitar! So, it would be nice to arrange a small meeting with a bunch of friends, with some singing and playing at Cafe Regatta =)

When I go visit Hel (next summer, I hope), I would definitely visit this particular cafe also! :)

What a beautiful cafe! I am so jealous.

I especially like it because of the contrast with the surroundings. It's located near very expensive and conservative neighborhood. Prime Minister's residency is visible from terrace. President's residency is nearby. Sibelius monument is also visible. Regatta is a weird, kitschy alternative universe in the middle of all these symbols of power and seriousness.

So true. Global companies are spreading their standard-format cafeterias, restaurants and supermarkets everywhere around the globe. But I do believe that everywhere there are also places like Cafe Regatta, those who don't go with the mainstream but maintain an independent folk culture. Everywhere, not just in remote countryside villages, but also in the middle of the capital city =)

They have more of beautiful pictures at their facebook profile;


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