The now 28-year-old Kata Halonen was still living with her parents in Tapiola when her grandfather passed away. Her grandfather had lived in his Sörnäinen apartment in Helsinki since 1994, and the place was familiar to Kata after numerous visits.
Her parents asked if she would like to move into her grandfather’s one-bedroom apartment. It seemed like a reasonable solution to Kata, so she moved out to live on her own on the street between Kurvi and Sörnäisten rantatie in the summer of 2015.
Kata thinks it would be difficult to come up with two neighbourhoods as different as the green and peaceful Tapiola and the busy Sörnäinen.
“It took me a year to get used to not seeing trees and squirrels when I looked out the window. But since I got used to it, it has been very comfortable,” she says.
Before moving in, Kata renovated the entire apartment together with her parents. She did not keep her grandfather’s furniture and items in the apartment, as the two of them had very different tastes in interior design.
“This is probably not the apartment I will spend the rest of my life in, but at the moment, I have no need to move elsewhere.”
Workplace in Espoo, dance studios nearby
Nowadays, Kata shares the apartment with her boyfriend and their two cats, a pair of British Shorthairs. She was allowed to take in the two cats if her boyfriend was allowed decide their names. The furry friends were thus named Viipuri and Edinburgh.
“My boyfriend loves Scotland and Ireland, and his grandmother is from Vyborg.”
The boyfriend is a building manager, and Kata Halonen is a watchmaker who makes smartwatches. Both of them commute to work in Espoo, which can conveniently be reached using public transport. The metro passes through the station in Sörnäinen every few minutes.
“I make use of my commute time. I may, for example, read or knit on the metro or bus.”
It feels like there are always new places in Sörnäinen. Whenever I go walking around, I notice new brick-and-mortar stores, cafés, bars and restaurants.Kata Halonen
Kata is an avid burlesque and tribal fusion bellydance dancer. She met her boyfriend when the two of them first went to see a burlesque gala in a Kaisaniemi restaurant.
Kata’s dance lessons at Jazz Factory and TribalTanssiKeskus in Teurastamo are both within walking distance of her home. She can also conveniently travel to her dance lessons at Lönnrotinkatu by tram.
Good connections are a central part of Sörnäinen’s charm. There is both a metro station and several tram and bus stations near her home.
Many eateries and shops
Kata Halonen likes it in Sörnäinen because services are all close by. There are several grocery stores near home, one of which is open all hours. Within walking distance is the shopping centre Redi, which has both a post office and larger grocery store.
“I cannot think of a reason why I would need to go far from home, except maybe if I need to go to a really large department store or somewhere like Bauhaus.”
There are also many places to eat near home and, through Wolt, food can be ordered from numerous restaurants.
Kata and her boyfriend regularly go to the café and small bakery, Meli Café & Bakery on Helsinginkatu.
“The products at Meli are fresh and delicious. I often get freshly-squeezed orange juice and a doughnut with Nutella filling there. You can also get delicious stuffed breads and fried eggs there.”
From Meli, they usually walk to admire the fairy-tale-like mural painted by illustrator Eero Lampinen on the façade of an apartment building on Vaasankatu.
Their regular Nepalese restaurant is a stone’s throw away from their home. The excellent Pronto pizzeria on Hämeentie is also a short walking distance away. During summers, Kata often visits Jädelino in Teurastamo, which sells Italian artisan ice-cream. She also enjoys the terrace boats of Kalasatama and Mustikkamaa. Sörnäinen also has a good ethnic grocery store, Ararat Bazaar, where she goes to buy cheap fresh herbs, rice, chickpeas and lentils, for example.
“It feels like there are always new places in Sörnäinen. Whenever I go walking around, I notice new brick-and-mortar stores, cafés, bars and restaurants.”
Kata Halonen used to be more interested in vintage clothing and items. She would search through the Frida Marina racks on Kaarlenkatu in Kallio and the treasures of Hoochie Mama Jane and Ansa Second Hand on Agricolankatu.
Kata’s hits in Sörnäinen
- Mural painted by Eero Lampinen on Vaasankatu
- Meli Café & Bakery
- Pronto pizzeria on Hämeentie
- Frida Marina on Kaarlenkatu
- Ethnic grocery store Ararat Bazaar
Happenings in lively Sörnäinen
If there was one thing Kata could add to Sörnäinen, it would be more green areas and plants.
“Of course, Mustikkamaa is close by, but there are many people there and I have gone there a few too many times. For example, the Teurastamo summer garden in Kalasatama is nice, since it has grass and urban gardens. Sörnäinen does have several small parks, such as Katri Vala’s park and Karhupuisto.”
Halonen kuvailee Sörnäisiä eloisaksi kaupunginosaksi. Hän viihtyy välillä esimerkiksi Taiteiden yön tapahtumissa kotinsa luona sekä Teurastamon myyjäisissä ja Suvilahden kulttuuritapahtumissa. Halonen kokee, että Sörnäisissä on turvallista kävellä keskellä yötäkin.
‒ Koko ajan tapahtuu jotain. Joskus öisin bilettäjät pitävät ääntä. He voisivat huomioida, että huutavat ehkä jonkun ikkunan alla. Meidän taloyhtiössä ei onneksi järjestetä kotibileitä.
Hyvä kokemus Sörnäisten eloisuudesta on esimerkiksi se kerta, kun Kata Halonen oli poikaystävänsä kanssa kävelyllä ja heidät vedettiin mukaan musiikkivideon kuvauksiin. Rap-duo Sofa kuvasi uutta videota, ja studion ovi oli auki kadulle. Ulkona seisoi kuvausväkeä, joka heitti pariskunnan sisälle, koska videoon haluttiin kuvata erilaisia pariskuntia.
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