photo credit : Roihuvuoren Rio

Rio in Roihuvuori

A selection of contemporary art books and canvases adorn the walls and window of this chic cafe right in the heart of Roihuvuori. Roihuvuoren Rio opened its doors over a year ago, and with a cool combination of colors, friendly people, plants and delicious coffee, this place keeps me coming back! The modern ambiance mixed with eclectic taste creates an all-around lovely experience – not to mention the great selection of vinyls always spinning!

Rio vinyls

photo credit : Roihuvuoren Rio

My personal favorite touch to Rio is the array of plants enlivening the space. I am a proud {amateur} plant nerd – and I truly appreciate the bustling garden. Rio’s hidden terrace sits amongst a luscious green landscape, offering peace and tranquility coupled with some equally rewarding aromas. It’s my new favorite spot, and not just because of its proximity to my doorstep!

Rio I

Rio Highlights

  • sweet and savory pastries from 3 different sources
  • forget the coffee – they had me at Big Wave Golden Ale!
  • breakfast porridge buffet and lunch soup
  • kind people with a community feeling…I am always elated to get warm service and feel welcomed! Who isn’t?!
  • live music on selected dates

Don’t forget to bring your bike to ride off that coffee buzz…a gorgeous view of the sea awaits!

rio 4

photo credit : Roihuvuoren Rio

Other hot spots in the Roihuvuori hoodz


Honky Tonk in Helsinki – The Hilland Playboys rock Juttutupa every Monday

hilland playboys

Merle Haggard. Patsy Cline. Dolly Parton. Johnny Cash. These artists are more than just infamous names representing classic country music – their names (and more importantly, their music) live on every Monday night in one of the hottest multi-purpose venues in Helsinki – Juttutupa.

The Hilland Playboys are fronted by two amazing guitar-pickin’ men – Pauli Halme and Antti Vuorenmaa – but the guitar is not all they play. During the three hour set, they have various line switches – from guitar to pedal steel – thus delivering a stellar performance coupled with a fun-loving country spirit. With the angelic voice of Martta Valkeus on the front lines, singing epics like “Luxuary Liner” and “Jolene,” prepare to be transported right back to the heartland. Watch out for guest musicians appearing with these guys, who showcase an array of talent within this somewhat underground country music scene in Helsinki.

Prior to Juttutupa, these guys had a weekly spot at Boothill Rock Club in central Helsinki. My first impression after seeing their set was, “how the hell have I missed this every Monday?!” I was blown away by their level of musicianship. Their current venue – Juttutupa – is a venue/restaurant in the heart of the Hakaniemi district in Helsinki, and is home to much diversity in the world of entertainment. You will find a lovely blend of people from all walks of life (and all ages) who come together to watch incredible musicians at the top of their game. Many famous names have graced the walls of Juttutupa, and these walls broadcast a powerful sound.
In an attempt to get more information on The Hilland Playboys, I was lucky enough to snag a few words with guitar-strumming, vocal-humming Martta Magdalena Valkeus…and here’s what she had to say:

ML: What have been the overall reactions from people since you joined The Hilland Playboys?

MMV: Very positive. When I joined, I was the only woman in the band and many people came to talk to me after the gigs to say how nice it was that there’s a woman and female voice in the band! They said that it was exactly what the band needed, and it’s lovely – which has been very supportive and nice!! Well, I’m sure it might have been a surprise for many as well that a diploma-carrying cellist from Sibelius Academy suddenly wears a cowboy hat, plays guitar and sings American country music in a band. It might not be the most usual combination – but overall the reactions are very positive, and people are so interested about this.


Martta Valkeus photo credit: Leena Valkeus

ML: Why country and western music?

MMV: I am a real country girl! I’ve lived my first 15 years on our family’s farm in Etelä-Pohjanmaa, listening to American roots music that my parents also love. I’ve always loved the sound of pedal steel, telecaster, dobro and those heavenly country music style vocal harmonies…and being a country singer has been my dream for many years! I got to know western swing more after I joined Hilland Playboys, but I really like it too…it has been positively challenging to learn to play western swing on a guitar. I just love the simplicity and warm spirit in country music. You can sing about the biggest or most difficult things in a few simple lines and do it in major with three chords, and it goes straight to the heart and gives you goose bumps every time. That’s just great. That’s country music.

ML: Music is the window to the soul I believe, who influences you the most as a musician?

MMV: There are so many great musicians that I admire – and who have influenced me – but perhaps there are two above others: Alison Krauss and Dolly Parton. They are both extremely talented and great musicians, not only as singers but players as well, with beautiful unique voices and songs that really touch the heart. Allison Krauss is the kind of singer whose music can also be very healing and comforting, and Dolly is a real master in making songs. Two great idols I think!

ML: What are the drummer and bass player’s names, and are they rotating – or permanent?

MMV: We finally have permanent bass and drum players, but they used to be rotating. Our drummer is Sami Laakso, and bass player is Saara Metsberg. They are both just great musicians and we are so happy to have them in the band!

ML: Who are some other musicians within the country music scene in Helsinki to watch out for?

MMV: The super talented trio ‘Iron Country Sisters’ are really something to check out, I just love them! Country band ‘Luxury Liner’ has definitely some of the best country musicians in Finland, and there is a young guy named Janne Kaunisto (Johnny B.D.), whose voice and charisma won’t leave anybody cold! I’m sure he will be a big name in the country music scene one day.

ML: I have always related to the “whiskey-drinking woman”…who typically is portrayed as a strong, vibrant, free-thinking and independent woman, who’s not afraid to get dirty…what are your thoughts? Do you relate to this kind of woman at all?

MMV: Well, my usual drink before a gig is whiskey on the rocks. Year by year I can relate to this kind of woman even more!

David Allen Coe once said “it ain’t a perfect country and western song if you don’t sing about whiskey-drinking, mama, prison or getting drunk,” and with that said, The Hilland Playboys have picked an amazing repertoire of songs to present from all walks of country and western music…with a changing setlist to boot!

Cue the cowboy —- Jeeeehaaaaa!

Live country music every Monday – free entrance
Juttutupa – Helsinki
Sparbankskajen 6
8-11pm, band tips graciously accepted!

Other links:

Hilland Records

Hilland Playboys on FB

Hilland Country Festival




Helsinki Kawaii Guide by Edition Paumes

The Helsinki Kawaii Guide is all about design, cafés and other lovely finds – in other words your guide to the best Helsinki has to offer! We love these curated, independent city guides off the beaten track that allow visitors and locals alike dive deep into the local gems and all kinds of lovely things. Design being rooted in the Helsinki DNA the creatives are truly sizzling as we speak. So many projects, networks, events, publications, talks and meetings later of the major year as World Design Capital Helsinki is now maybe more alive than ever.

Kawaii Guide is soon for sale at Akateeminen bookstore. We cannot wait.

One of the lovely Helsinki finds! Winter ties from the playful Secret Shop in front of Kiasma by designerduo Johan Olin and Aamu Song.

Winterties by Johan Olin and Aamu Song

Welcome to the Helsinki Documentary Film Festival (24-29.1)

Next week kicks off the annual Helsinki Documentary Film Festival, otherwise known as DocPoint.

Established in 2001, DocPoint is the largest documentary film festival in the Nordic countries and in Finland it’s the only festival solely dedicated to documentary films.  Each year the festival offers both a national and an international selection of the best new films and celebrated classics, along with a special selection just for children.  And the good news for the English speaking crowd is that the majority of films are either in English or are subtitled in English.

Last year’s festival drew attendance of over 30,000 and we anticipate that with this year’s great program it will garner as much, if not more, attention.

My personal ‘must see’ is Finnsurf.   A film from the folks at Pablo that brings new meaning to the idea of extreme sport and the words ‘surf’s up’.

See you there!

Information is available online or at the DocPoint information center at the Lasipalatsi Gallery, Mannerheimintie 22–24.  Map here.  Opening hours: On Monday from 12am–6pm and on Tue – Sun from 11am–9pm.

Eat, Drink & Be Merry: Helsinki’s ‘Pop-up’ Restaurant Day

photo by Jonna Tammisto

On February 4th 2012 we’ll celebrate Finland’s 4th pop-up restaurant day – a trend we think is crazy fun and über cool.

The idea is really simple…for a day anyone can fulfill their dream of being a restauranteur. No permits needed. And no rules.  Pop-up restaurants may appear just about anywhere and last year we indulged in everything from an organic juice bar, tastes of Tokyo, a late night raw food kiosk, a soup kitchen, and at least one of my faves was a sandwich bar that lowered our goodies down in baskets from a quaint little apartment window. YUM!

If the upcoming Restaurant Day is anything like last year’s experience, then we’re in for an extraordinary treat.

photo by Roy Bäckstrom

photo by Kimmo Lind

photo by Roy Bäckman

photo by Anssi Kumpula

For more information visit the Restaurant Day (Ravintolapäivä) website or Ravintolapäiva on facebook (in Finnish).


NY Times names Helsinki as #2 in its ’45 Places to Go in 2012′

Today the NY Times ran a great editorial on where to go in 2012.  We were thrilled to see Helsinki in the #2 spot.  Enjoy.

For more info on World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 and all the happenings click here.

For happenings at the Helsinki Music Centre (Musiikkitalo) click here.

For opening hours, reservations and reviews of Helsinki restaurants including Chez Dominque and Olo visit

Recycled never looked so good

Brilliant thinking + Beautiful, functional design + Ecological = Globe Hope.

Globe Hope is the brainchild of Finnish textile designer, Seija Lukkala who simply got frustrated with the mad consumption pace going on within the textile industry and decided to put her expertise to action in creating a more ecological and sustainable future.

Globe Hope’s clothing and accessories save and reuse nature’s resources and respect ethical production. We love that they’re aesthetic, functional and idea-rich. And the use of ‘recycled materials’ is an absolute bonus. We’re sold!

In Helsinki you can find Globe Hope products at the Design Forum Finland, Pore Helsinki, Design Museum Shop plus at Globe Hope’s own stores:

Globe Hope Kiseleff (near Senate Square), Aleksanterinkatu 28  Map here.

Opening hours: 10-19 weekdays, 10-17 Saturdays, 12-17 Sundays

Globe Hope LasipalatsiMannerheimintie 22-24  Map here.

Opening hours: 9-18 weekdays, 10-17 Saturdays