When someone settles in one place for a long time, it is easy to wonder where the hidden appeal of their home lies. Ulla Koskinen moved into a brand new apartment in Vantaa's Myyrmäki in 1980 and had no idea that she would be looking out of the same windows during her retirement.
Koskinen has made a lot of big life decisions based on a good feeling. She married Matti Koskinen after three months of dating; it was love at first sight. They were married for 47 years and had two children. Ulla Koskinen spent her entire career at Nordea. The bank’s name and Koskinen’s tasks changed frequently over the decades. Ten years ago, Koskinen, 72, started enjoying her well-deserved retirement. Her four-room home with its sauna has served the needs of both a family of four and the widow who has now lived there alone for a couple of years.
The former resident of downtown Helsinki ended up in the western Vantaa suburb after several twists and turns. Her friends had bought an apartment nearby in Kaivoksela, and the young Koskinen couple stopped by. During the same trip, they got to know Myyrmäki as a residential area. The nature in the area impressed the couple, and that impression has not disappointed.
“It was important to us to have nature and a place to exercise nearby. There was a sports field right behind the building,” Koskinen says.
Staying active has been a part of Koskinen's life since she was young. She can also enjoy the winter to its fullest, as ski trails towards Kaivoksela, Pitkäkoski, Paloheinä and Petikko start right at the corner of her house.
On the day of the interview, the athletic retiree takes a walk to her favourite place, Vaskivuori. The route runs through a familiar sports field, where Koskinen's two sons played football and hockey when they were young. The location of the sports field was perfect, since Koskinen could keep an eye on the children from the kitchen window.
Relaxation in nature
The path leading to Vaskivuori is surrounded by wood anemones and tall, slender lilies of the valley. Mätäoja River, which runs through the forest, has been almost completely covered in vegetation in places, but Koskinen clearly remembers when it was still a flowing riverbed.
“The boys used to build huts here and do all kinds of things. One time they were sailing down the river on a piece of Styrofoam and one of them fell into the water. That could have ended badly,” says Koskinen with a laugh. Thankfully, luck was on their side and all that is left of the adventure is a fun memory.
The journey continues to the top of the cliffs of Vaskivuori. Koskinen stops at a place the family often took trips to. After about 15 minutes, it was time for the highlight of the trip: snacks!
Vaskivuori and the surrounding fields of Vaskipelto still give Koskinen a compelling reason to take regular walks and stay fit.
“If I don’t feel like going too far, I’ll go to the Mätäoja bridge for a bit,” Koskinen says.
You do not always need to do something big to relax. Nature does its job every season.
The Myyrmäki tour continues from the Vaskivuori forest through a homely apartment building area towards the railway station and shopping centre. Koskinen has everything she needs on her doorstep: shops, health centre, pharmacy, restaurants and cultural venues.
“When my husband was ill, the health centre, the laboratory and the pharmacy were frequent stops. You start to appreciate them as you get older.”
In addition to comprehensive basic services, the centre of Myyrmäki offers a wide range of event hubs. Ulla Koskinen has frequently visited the Myyrmäkitalo cultural centre, which houses Vantaa Art Museum Artsi and a library. The same house is also home to the Kino Myyri cinema, and the film buff has seen practically everything shown. Koskinen is concerned whether the cinema that the locals love will remain open following the coronavirus.
Koskinen introduces the community building Myyräncolo, which was built next to the station area. New projects are being developed in Myyrmäki all the time, the long-time Myyrmäki resident points out with a smile. In the summer, the urban street park Myyr York Park will open in the parking lot behind Myyräncolo, and events for everyone are promised. Koskinen often takes the train to cultural events in Helsinki. Now that there are events coming to the Vantaa Summer Stage in Myyr York Park, it may not be necessary to go elsewhere. Having said that, getting about is easy: the train goes to the big church in 15 minutes and to the airport in 20 minutes. There are bus lines that connect everywhere.
The Koskinen family has appreciated the good transport links.
“I have always felt that it is easy to travel from here to elsewhere when necessary.”
In the summer, Ulla Koskinen spends a lot of time at her cottage in Kiikala. When in Myyrmäki, she might stop by the sports park, which she thinks looks great. The sports and events centre in western Vantaa has plenty to do and see regardless of the season. On the day of the interview, Koskinen sat down in the summer café at Paalutori Market in front of Myyrmäkitalo and ordered a cappuccino – a first in her neighbourhood. The coffee tasted good! Your own neighbourhood can always surprise you.
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