Saturday, 22 February 2014

007 Travel story: Helsinki (FINLAND) 2014

Pirita's ja Mika's own trip for two.

Scandic Park Helsinki, Mannerheimintie 46, Helsinki
92,00 EUR / 1 night, incl. breakfast, booked via


Torni hotelRiitta Liikamaa and others

American Bar: Pekka Välitalo

Savotta Restaurant : Eero Kaitanen, Reija Etholen-Dalton and others

Saturday 11th of January 2014

We arrived in Helsinki by train, we went to the hotel Torni to the reception, where the receptionist man was well aware of our arrival.

This time we didn't have to travel far, because this time our travel story concentrated on Helsinki, capital city of Finland, our homeland.

Mika in front of the Hotel Torni

He gave us the keys to Jugend suite No. 431, and we were allowed to go on our own to take pics and video footage of the room in which Sir Roger Moore had stayed during his visit to Finland in 2009. Jane Fonda has stayed in that same suite.

The suite has design furniture, beautiful lighting and exquisite stove of Jugend style.
The carpet, the curtains and the bed cover textiles are stylish, and the whole 40 m2  sized suite is tastefully decorated in the National Romantic style. The color scheme tones are white and beige or light brown, with the exception of precious -looking greenish side curtains of the window. The suite has a Cupsolo coffeemaker, concealed a 42-inch flat-screen TV with cable channels and there are art works on the walls. 

King-size double bed in "Roger Moore Suite"

Pirita @ "Roger Moore Suite"

The bathroom with a claw foot bathtub with shower and it has a so called English faucet. Hot and cold water have to be mixed in order to get the appropriate temperature.

Bathing products by Thierry Mugler

Hotel Torni was built in 1920s and it is within comfortable walking distance from the train station and the Esplanade Park. It has a Ateljee Bar in its 14th floor and from there one can have a great view over Helsinki. We went there to enjoy glasses of red wine and took some photographs from the roof terrace. We took some shots of e.g. Uspenski Cathedral and Helsinki Cathedral and naturally we went also to see the famous toilet, which also has a panoramic view over Helsinki.

Toilet with a view @ Torni

Then we went to the end of Mannerheimintie. In "Icebreaker", there is a scene where writer John Gardner describes the house where a Bond girl Paula Vacker lived. We came to the conclusion that the house in Esplanade Park might be the one Gardner meant, even though it's more red than green, which is the house colour in the book. The old door of the house seemed still to have old green paint. Snow started to come down from the sky just when we took a couple of photos in Esplanade Park.

"For no logical reason, Bond had imagined that Paula would live in a new and shining apartment block. Instead, he found her address to be a house four storeys high, with shuttered windows and fresh green paint."
"Two curved, half-timbered gables divided the house, which had a single entrance, glass-panelled and unlocked. Just inside the door, a row of metal mailboxes signified who lived where, the personal cards in tiny frames. The hallway and stairs were bare of carpet."

"Paula lived on the third floor - 3A - and Bond, slipping the buttons on his British Warm, began to make his way up the stairs."

According to the book description, the Espladade Park can be seen from the building.

Esplanade Park

"Paula lived in an apartment building overlooking the Esplanade Park, at the south-easterly end of the Mannerheimintie. It was a part of the city Bond had never visited before, so his arrival was one of surprise and delight.
The park itself is a long, landscaped strip running between the houses. There were signs that in summer it would be an idyllic spot with trees, rock gardens, and paths. Now, in mid-winter, the Esplanade ark took on a new, original function."

John Gardner "Icebreaker" 

(Did you know: Finland is mentioned in 1967 movie "Casino Royale")

Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC

After this we went to the appointment in the American Bar, where we got in a little before the opening time. There we met bartender Pekka Välitalo, who made us Vesper drinks. Pekka has been working in American bar about five years. We got all to the video, when Pekka made the drinks. Pekka told us also that Sir Roger Moore drank a Vesper drink here, while visiting in Finland. That drink was offered to him by his crew that was with him. Later in the same evening he came again with his wife Kristina "Kiki" Tholstrup this time and ordered Gin tonic and his wife ordered a Dry Martini.

Pekka Välitalo

See the video: Making of Vesper drinks here

Vespers by: Pekka Välitalo: Torni / American bar
James Bond enjoying Vesper drink in "Casino Royale" (2006)
Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC

The we took a taxi and drove to the Senate Square, where Restaurant Savotta is located. It is just opposite of Helsinki Cathedral. We figured out that this restaurant was the closest to the description that author John Pearson gave about the Restaurant Smourazi, where Bond is having a dinner in the book "James Bond, the Authorized Biography of 007".

In the Bond book the restaurant is located opposite the Helsinki Cathedral. The décor of the restaurant Savotta is really old, all the furniture is imported and they are actually old, not just to make look like oldish.

The floors are imported from Central Finland, form some old barn. The building was begun to be built in 1762, and in 1890 it was transferred to the City of Helsinki from Burtz. The building has been the Helsinki Police Department with its dungeons and registry office. First three Inspector Palmu movies have been filmed here. Catering services began in the 1980s. Before Savotta restaurant there has been for example an Italian restaurant, and the current restaurant has been in operation for 8-9 years.(2014)

We met Eero Kaitanen, who has been working in Savotta for six years. One and a half of these as a chef. He graduated from the cooking school in the beginning of 21st century.

Eero Kaitanen

Eero was busy at the kitchen, so after we said hello to him, we went to the table downstairs and ordered Sisu shots for starters.

Sisu shots

Eero sent us greetings from the kitchen to the appetizer Puruvesi imported fried vendace , granny cucumber salad and melted butter with dill and salt. It was very tasty appetizer.

Vendace fish à la floaters' "Saihu" boat

We ordered Karelian casserole as a main course, which also Bond ate in "James Bond, the Authorized Biography of 007" book. Karelian casserole included lamb, beef and pork in a traditional Karelian stew, served with mashed potatoes and pickled salad of pumpkin and lingonberries.

Karelian casserole

They served meals from Arabia 140 - year anniversary plates. Pirita's plate was called "Helka" and Mika's plate "Ida".

The Helka plate

The Ida plate

The waitress Reija Etholén -Dalton showed us an old ski, which has holes for shot glasses.

Reija Etholén -Dalton

We were just finishing up with the casserole, when Eero was came to our table. He told us that he likes his work because of nice co-workers in Savotta. He told us that tourists mostly are from Asia and Russia. We asked about the taste of bear's meat. Eero told them to have a strong game flavor and they are served in pots. Maybe someday we will taste bear meat. 

Eero offered us also Sisu ice cream for dessert: Ice cream flavoured with Finnish Sisu-liquorice, served with berry compote, "sawdust" (cookie crumbles) and birch sap syrup.

Savotta's Sisu ice cream

Other staff offered us green currant liqueur called Mamsellin Makea (Mamselli's Sweet), which has been imported from Lepaa vineyard. We got more drinks, this time Uppotukki / Drunken Log- named drinks with moonshine and vermouth, and a piece of rye bread, served from a tin mug. It is said to be Savotta's Martini, where a piece of bread represents an olive, Reija told us.

Mamselli's Sweet (Mamsellin Makea)

Drunken Log (Uppotukki)

"Bond enjoyed his first afternoon in Helsinki." 
"That evening Birkin insisted on taking Bond out to dinner."

"They went to Smourazi, traditionally the best Finnish restaurant in the city. It was just opposite the old cathedral, a prim grey building with a dome like a symmetrical bald head. The restaurant was crowded but the guests were mainly Swedes and somewhat solemn. Bond drank a lot of schnapps and found the clientele improving. Birkin insisted on traditional Finnish food – kalakukko (Finnish fish cakes), Karelian steak (beef and mutton roasted together), and poronkieltä (reindeer tongue)."
"‘The point of Finnish food is that it gives you stamina. You need it in a place like this. Pity you're not staying longer.’"

John Pearson: "James Bond, the Authorized Biography of 007" 

After the meal, we noticed that it was snowing more. We took a couple of more photos of Helsinki Cathedral and the Christmas lights that covered the whole Aleksanterinkatu. Then we took a taxi and videotaped part of the journey towards our hotel in Mannerheimintie. Taxi driver became interested in our blog, when we told some background of it.

Helsinki Cathedral

We checked in to the Scandic Park Helsinki Hotel. Our room was in 6th floor and the room number was 639.

Rooms were renovated and they had a fresh look, lounge is mainly blue-coloured  and new blue toned rugs created nice atmosphere

Room 639

We went filming to the hotel's garage because in "Icebreaker" Bond visited there as well.

"They went down to the car park, heading for the Saab. About three paces from the car Bond turned.
- I have to take the keys from my pocket. Okay?
Kolya said nothing, just nodded, moving the big pistol inside his coat to remind Bond it was there. Bond took the keys, his eyes darting around.

John Gardner: "Icebreaker"

We had planned to ask a permission to take photos in Presidential Suite, which was the honeymoon suite in "Icebreaker". We were a little late though, because the whole 9th floor was under construction due to the renovations in the hotel. This will last for the end of 2014. We had hoped that there would be some members of the staff still working, who were there 30 years ago, when the author John Gardner visited in Finland, while writing "Icebreaker". But there were no more people from that generation working. In the evening we went to the hotel's restaurant, but we were so full of the dinner we ate in Savotta restaurant, that we took only some desserts and orange juice. After that it was time to go in to our room and call it for a day.

Pirita & Mika

"In his room at the Inter-Continental Hotel, at the northern end of Helsinki's broad arterial Mannerheimintie, Bond tapped out the telephone number. It rang twice and a girl answered in Finnish.
Bond spoke in respectful English. - Paula Vacker, please.
Bond said he was at the Inter-Continental.
- Here? Here in Helsinki?' She did not bother to disguise her pleasure.
- Yes,' Bond confirmed, - here in Helsinki. Unless Finnair got it wrong.
- Finnair are like homing pigeons', she said with a laugh."

John Gardner "Icebreaker"

Sunday 12th of January 2014

Breakfast was comprehensive. After checking out, we took some more shots outside of the hotel and also from Crowne Plaza hotel, where 007 also stays in "Icebreaker". The hotel was under the name of Hotel Hesperia at the time. We have stayed Crowne Plaza in 2012, in Club Room No. 908. After shooting we took a taxi to the railway station. Bond also drove by taxi to the Esplanade Park in the book. 

"Bond now took a cab to the Hesperia Hotel – a calculated choice. He wanted to do the journey to their RV on his own, and it was quite possible that Mosolov, Tirpitz and Rivke Ingber were, separately, already en route and in the Finnish capital. If any member of the group were looking for Bond, the Inter-Continental would almost certainly be watched.
With these thoughts in mind, Bond took great care about the way in which he moved – giving himself time to look around as he paid off the cab; waiting, for a moment, outside the main doors of the hotel; checking the foyer the moment he stepped inside.
"He swerved the car on to the Mannerheimintie, joining the sparse traffic heading for the Vantaa Airport road."

John Gardner: "Icebreaker"

Later the story of the book continues to the Helsinki - Vantaa airport, so we went there also. This airport is very familiar to us. From here we take off to our 007 trips.

"Officially Vantaa Airport is not open until seven in the morning, but there are always people about. At five o’clock it had that look you associate with the sour taste of too many cigarettes, constant coffee, and the, tiredness of waiting for night trains, or planes, anywhere in the world."

 "The big clock in International Departures stood at two minutes to eight-thirty."

"Keeping behind as much cover as possible, Bond edged his way past the kiosks, trying to position himself near the passage on the extreme left of the complex which led to passport control and the air-side lounges.
At the far end of this section of the departure area, set in front of high windows, was a coffee shop – separated from the main complex by a low, flimsy trellis barrier covered with imitation flowers. To the left of it, very close to where Bond now stood, was the passport control section, each of its little booths occupied by an official."

John Gardner: "Icebreaker" 

"Where are you, James?"
"I´m at the Helsinki airport. I´m coming to Paris. The plane leaves after thirty minutes. What do you think, would you like to go to a restaurant tomorrow evening?"

Sebastian Faulks: "Devil May Care" 

Yes! A Table reservation for 007 Travelers, please. So, next we are heading to Paris also.


See the list of 007 LOCATIONS (visited), excluding 007 HOTELS (visited) and
007 RESTAURANTS (visited), which have sections of their own, please follow the links.


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