My 5 most romantic places in Helsinki are….

Spoiler alert - if you haven't read The Englishman yet, don't read this!

1. The statue of Eino Leino in Esplanade Park. This is one of the traditionally romantic places in Helsinki, where lovers share kisses, and indeed this is where The Englishman and I had a passionate moment or two.

2. The South Harbour. For some reason, I’ve always liked harbours, and the one in Helsinki seems to go from strength to strength. In the days of my romance with The Englishman, the South Harbour was still a working place, and tourists only congregated in the area between the market square and the Silja Line Olympic terminal. The Englishman and I too strolled many a time along the harbour wall hand in hand, wishing we could stay that way forever.

OK, this picture is a couple of decades too
old for my story,
still it looks pretty lovely, doesn't it?
3. Below Stockmann’s clock on Alexanterinkatu. Outside this iconic Helsinki department store is the place to meet anyone, whether it is a romantic rendezvous or just a meet-up with a friend. 

4. The most romantic place for me in Helsinki must be the the private club and restaurant The Helsinki Bourse Club (used to be called Adlon). It was where The Englishman made his first proposal of marriage (note: first proposal – a girl needs to be asked more than once to accept!). This gleaming Art Deco place on Fabianinkatu 14 is still open for lunch, and it also hosts private parties. 

Again, I'm using historic images...
5. Hesburger. Not your obvious choice, I agree, but this Finnish home-grown burger place was after all where The Englishman made his marriage proposal concrete with a ring…branches are found all over the city nowadays.

The sleet was still falling and even though it was only twelve o’clock, and in spite of the bright Christmas lights, the street looked dark. Kaisa spotted the sign of the new hamburger bar opposite and started running towards it, dragging Peter behind her.
‘It’s not McDonald’s but they do a rye burger,’ she said.
Inside Peter looked around the small space. ‘You sure this is OK?’
The place was called Hesburger and being new, it was fairly full. As usual people stared when Peter and Kaisa entered. She looked at Peter. ‘Yes, we just want a quick bite, yeah? And it’s raining.’
After some translation of the menu, they got the bags of food.
‘Let’s sit by the window,’ Kaisa said and nodded to one of the red plastic tables and chairs.
Peter looked at Kaisa across the table. He hadn’t touched his burger.
‘Aren’t you hungry?’
He reached across the shiny tabletop and took her hand. His fingers felt cold against her skin.
‘You know I love you.’
Peter’s mouth was a straight line. His eyes were wide. He looked almost scared. Kaisa’s heart sank. Had he heard from the Navy Appointer? Was this bad news?
‘I know.’
Peter pulled something out of his pocket. It was a small black box. ‘This isn’t quite the kind of place I imagined I’d do this, but..,’ He looked deep into her eyes and opened the box to show her the contents.
Kaisa saw gold and glittery stones. She looked up at Peter.
‘And I really wanted to ask your father first.’

If you enjoyed this excerpt and want to read the whole novel, click here.

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