There is something about a city by the sea that will always captivate me. The fresh air, salty scent and laid-back atmosphere in Helsinki made me feel welcome from day one.
After a stroll around town I find myself already inspired by its architecture. Old and new merge beautifully, with different eras represented through a rows of changing facades. Most of the buildings in Senate Square - home of the famous Lutheran Cathedral of Helsinki - were designed in a neoclassical style. A few streets away, the biggest Orthodox Cathedral of the west stands out with its Russian-Byzantine design. Yet, it is Helsinki Central Station that instantly becomes one of my favourite buildings in the world. Built between 1904 and 1919, it combines art nouveau with features that would later be defined as art deco and modernist - a nod to the Finns' pioneering sensibility.
On day two, I jump on a ferry to cross over to one of the over 300 other islands that form the archipelago of Helsinki; the island of Suomenlinna. The moment I step foot on land I am transported back in time. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Suomenlinna is a photographer's heaven where character merges with history.
I spend my last night in Helsinki stewing in a sauna at 110 degrees. Peeping through a small window I catch blurred views of the city at night across the sea. As I swelter alongside locals, I learn about Helsinki and its people. Post-soak I take the suggestion of going for a swim in the "refreshing" (bitterly cold) sea, before returning to my hotel where I feel the most relaxed I have been in a long time. I fall asleep as images of my trip convert into memories.