A Bhoys Guide to Helsinki. HJK v Celtic

Helsinki Cathedral

On the 8th of August Glasgow Celtic will return to Finland to play HJK Helsinki in their Champions League qualifier. This is a return from their UEFA Cup qualifier in 2000, where Celtic managed to qualify. The HJK fans are passionate & vocal, their memorable chant is ‘Klubi’ which means ‘club’. In 2000 there were more HJK fans than Celtic fans, & yes, us Celtic fans were louder!

This blog entry is for the visiting Celtic fans, a few tips to get by & enjoy their stay in Helsinki with ease.

Helsinki is the capital of Finland, & its a fairly small city by comparison to other major capitals in Europe. Its compact, efficient & very versatile. Finland is known as a cold country, & in winter it is, very. But in the summer it can get very hot, as much as +35, & you can expect temperatures to be quite high in August also. Helsinki is not a rainy city, but it can rain, & when it does it can be heavy, but never for very long.

 

Helsinki Airport

Arriving in Helsinki, is usually flying into Helsinki-Vantaa Airport (or Tampere airport, 2 hours away) which is 40 min bus ride (€4 max, bus number 615, or night bus 620N takes you to the centre) or a 20 min taxi ride (around €40) Helsinki Airport is an international hub to Asia, & can be very busy, but its very well organised, & has free wifi.

The city of Helsinki will be busy with tourists at this time of year, & many Finns will be returning from their summer cottages to get back to work, so expect the city to be lively. Finnish people are very hospitable, honest, friendly & calm. There is very little crime in the Helsinki & Finland in general, so if you leave a bag in a bar/shop or station, you are likely to find it in the same place or handed in for you to collect, unique I know.

Public Transport in Helsinki

Public trasport in Helsinki is fantastic, there are buses, trams, trains & even boats. To get to the Sonera stadium from the centre, you need to take tram number 3B, 3T, 4, 7B or 10. Oh & there is free wifi on most of the trams too. The Sonera stadium is next to the 1952 Olympic stadium, easily visible from afar. You can walk to the stadium from the centre, it should take 25mins via Töölö Bay.

Free wifi is available around Helsinki city, just search for it on your device, & theres no need to sign up for it, just accept & surf.

Ive had a lot of tweets from Celtic fans asking me the same question, how much is the beer?? Well, it can be expensive depending where you go, anything from €4-€6, & please remember, its not a full pint you get here, they press a button & it fills to the amount. Unless your a Guinness drinker, then you’ll get a proper pint. So where to drink? Molly Malone’s is where most people went the last time Celtic played here, it can be expensive & over priced but its the only place to have live music seven days a week. Its also the only pub in Helsinki that has Sky TV. For the Finnish experience, try Zetor, its fun & quirky with Finnish food at a decent price. There is a unique pub in Helsinki, it’s a tram, the Koff tram (named after the Finnish beer) runs throughout the summer, its 8€ & will take you on a tour of the city as you drink beer, its very popular, & you cant miss it, its bright red!

This wishing to buy alcohol can do so from any supermarket (S-market, K-market, CityMarket) From there you can buy beer & cider, if you wish to buy anything stronger you need to go to Alko, its the national alcoholic beverage retailing monopoly in Finland. Its sounds dodgy, but its not anywhere near like that. Prices are the same as the UK. You have the ability to recycle your empties, all shops have machines, so if you have cans or bottles, return them, you’ll get money back.

Eating in Helsinki is great, & if your a little open minded it will be a pleasurable experience. Fish is plentiful & fresh, straight from the baltic sea, & definitely worth trying. Herring & salmon is always available. Meatballs & mash potatoes is a traditional dish, you may also get a side of berry jam with it, so don’t be offended or shocked if you see it. Reindeer is also available to eat, again worth trying once in your life. There are plenty Grill kiosks around the city which are open to the wee small hours, try a Lihapirakka (meat pie) or a makkara (sausage). But you can check out every place to eat on the site eat.fi, where you can define what you want to eat. A very good site.

If any of you miss Irn-Bru or Tunnocks caramel wafers you can visit Behnford’s in the WTC, in the heart of the city. Again, its expensive, but if your desperate…

The city of Helsinki.

There are plenty beaches around Helsinki, you can try Hietaniemi beach (or Hietsu as its known) its a 15min walk from town & has golden sand. & there are plenty of football fields around the city too, all have goals (with nets), they’re free to use. If your in the Hietsu area you should try the famous Cafe Regatta, The only cafe in the world to give you money back when you ask for a coffee refill. All buns are freshly baked & there is an open fire outside to cook sausages if you want, it sits by the sea & is very popular & has friendly staff.

Hietsu Beach

Sightseeing, there is plenty to see in Helsinki if you have the notion to look around. Soumenlinna is a fortress build on a beautiful island, & you can get to it from the Market Square. The boat trip is part of the public transport route, so its cheap, highly recommended.

If you happen to find yourself in need of help, lost passport for example, you’ll need to contact the British Embassy. Its not far from the centre of the city (15min walk) & the phone number is +358 (0)9 2286 5100

Please contact me if there is anything I may have missed out that you need to know.

Enjoy, & hail hail!!

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24 thoughts on “A Bhoys Guide to Helsinki. HJK v Celtic

  1. Pingback: A Bhoys Guide to Helsinki. HJK v Celtic » The Celtic Network - Celtic FC, Blogs,Forums,Podcasts and News

  2. Thanks for the Blog mate – will come in useful for all I’m sure. As far as we are concerned though, no date for the game has been scheduled – last Celtic said was that they were awaiting confirmation from UEFA. Some think that there is a possibility that the first leg will be played in Helsinki as Olympic Football on in Glasgow on Wednesday 1st. Any official word from HJK?

  3. I have booked up to go from the 7th to the 9th as I was unsure what day the game was on. Can they just switch the legs because 4000 might turn up at hampden that night? Im fucked if they do!!!!

  4. Alright Paul, there will probably be over 25k at the Olympics game once they start giving tickets out. The game is also on the afternoon and not evening. No idea what the policing situation will be like as a few teams may be staying in Glasgow for other games and there is the security aspect of anything Olympic will be most important for the police. It’s already fairly high end – sniffer dogs aboot hotels etc. Wait and see. Hope to god it’s away second. What’s your flying to/from anyhows?

    • Hi Paul & Pat. The Finnish press is not reporting this at all. HJK are still midway through their season at the moment, so with their busy schedule it probably won’t change. Their fans need to travel too remember. I’ll keep you posted if I hear anything though.

    • An update on the Olympic issue. I got info from one of the journalists working at the Finnish tv station YLE (Follow on twitter: @EganRichardson ) Bruce Springsteen is playing at the Olympic stadium on the 31st, which is right next door to HJK’s ground, & HJK don’t want to change the date.

  5. An update on the Olympic issue. I got info from one of the journalists working at the Finnish tv station YLE (Follow on twitter: @EganRichardson ) Bruce Springsteen is playing at the Olympic stadium on the 31st, which is right next door to HJK’s ground, & HJK don’t want to change the date.

  6. there used to be an organised helsinki csc for a few years too. We used to use a bar a little out of the center called one pint pub as our base however not many of us get there very often. (marriages. Kids. Moving to countryside etc.) it’s still celtic friendly but maybe only with a few locals who remember us still. Molly’s is big. They’ve added another bar upstairs and the terrace at the back is open till 3.30 am but you can’t drink on the terrace after 2am. Also, aussie bar in kamppi, has sky now too. Populated by finnish lasses who “love your accent” and aussie ex pat barstaff. Decent selection of beers from down under. Looks like finnish efficiency has dictated that us ex members of helsinki csc can’t buy tickets here for the celtic end. So we’ll be with the hjk boys again. So if you see a wee enclave of hoops at the other end you’ll know it’s us. Oh and the hjk lads are great. They helped us do all the paperwork we needed to do in finnish when we set up our csc. See you in mollys after maybe. Hail hail. Dave w

    • Hi Dave, the reason I never mentioned the Aussie bar is that its primarily a rugby place, over priced as much as Mollys is too.
      Is Kenny still around? Not seen him for a good few years, but i’ll see you at the match no doubt.
      HH

      • Some bhoys and ghirls will arrive as early as Sunday as the Edinburgh-Tampere flight only goes Sunday and Thursday. Can’t see many overall making the trip, certainly not 500 which is what our minimum allocation should be. Thomas Cook travel have announced a day trip to Helsinki for the game for £300, so if that goes, numbers will be boosted on match day. We come via Tallinn – i take it that it is adivsable to buy some alcohol (vodka etc) there to bring to Helsinki with us?

        What’s the general sort of opening and closing times for pubs? Also, worth going up to the Olympic Stadium to have a look around there at all?

  7. Alright Tam, the day trip is a good deal & I think there will be many taking TC up on the offer.
    As for the rest of the troops, buying in Tallinn or on the boat is a good idea, beer & spirits are cheaper there than in Helsinki.

    The Olympic tower is open for visitors, the Olympic stadium is rather old looking inside, its a sorry sight for a national stadium to be honest, & no matter how much work & money they invest in it, it still looks terrible. (if we compare to modern up to date stadiums around the world)

    Enjoy your stay here, & if I can help in anyway, please let me know. HH

  8. I will be travelling from Budapest to Tampere where my brother lives and then meeting friends from Helsinki in the Zetor Bar. Helsinki is a great city.

    • Good to hear Patrick. I hope your stay is a memorable one, in many ways. I like Zetor, it’s different.

  9. Hello Bhoys,
    Welcome to Helsinki. Steve has wrote very good advice for you. There are a lot of HJK fans, who still remember your last visit here in 2000. I think that I also remember this Kenny.
    Well, we have planned also a fan football match for you. We could play at HJK’s own training ground at Wednesday 14:30-16:00. The ground is on the northern side of of Sonera Stadium. Very near the Northern stand. It is normally used by HJK Juniors. So we hope that you could have team against us. And now we don’t know if this suites for you ?

    Cheers Vellu

    • Moi Vellu, Kiitos. I’ve tweeted this & it’s currently being spread to all. This a great idea, & I’m absolutely positive they will be up for it.
      I’ll see a few of them tomorrow night, so I’ll show them where to go.

  10. Free wifi is great
    But remember there are sniffer programmes for all platforms so DO NOT sign in to any credit card linked service (Like iTunes, app store of your bank) !

  11. I’m flying out tomorrow night with a mate. Both of us will be bringing our kit and boots. Is the match definitely going ahead?
    Cheers – @themikeybhoy67 on twitter

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