Thanks to Covid and Putin, the city centre of Helsinki has had a facelift for better and worse!
The main shopping streets around Stockmann’s, the biggest and most diverse shop in town, are full of empty shop windows.
Some shops have moved to smaller premises, while others have closed down completely. A few bigger buildings have been turned into hotels, but a good 20% look like that they will never find anyone to rent.
So many shops have closed down because Covid has put eCommerce on top of their shopping lists, and Helsinki has not managed urban planning well, and relentlessly pursued a program of hiking parking fees and higher public transport costs.
It is like staring at a person whose teeth have been punched out – it is disconcerting and obviously bloody for the losers.
Helsinki has a poor record of managing planning. Two huge ferry and cruise line harbours have been built and extended right in the center of the city causing fumes and jams from cargo lorries that chug through the rush hour traffic like bulls in a china shop. Building plots have been sold off to the biggest construction companies who build nondescript apartments packed in as close as possible so thousands of new owners can look into one another’s’ bedrooms with ease…
… and the city somehow forgets to build enough parking spaces, bridges, tunnels and roads to accommodate these residents and traffic who must watch the sad processions of rush hour traffic each morning and evening pouring in from the neighbouring suburbs and the ferries.
Another feature of Helsinki is the rush of Russian and Ukrainian folk as new residents… Going for a walk along the same streets is like Kiev or St. Petersburg. You can recognise the Russians on sight because of their smart clothes and the presence of mum and dad with two or three kids. The Ukrainians are not as well dressed and are mainly represented by mums and children.
The Russians are also filling up the expensive hotels here and shopping at Louis Vuitton, while the Ukrainians are being cared for by kind volunteers and not shopping!
It is not hard to guess that we really extend our heartfelt good wishes for the U’s rather than for the newly arrived R’s!
It is the wealthier Russians who have the cash and networks to get out of Russia to avoid being called up to fight for the mother country. Well, you can understand that most of these newly arrived families are as big cowards as Mr. Putin, their great leader of the National Socialist Russian Workers’ Party, who sits securely all alone in a heavily protected bunker with all his cash!