Viivi Lehikoinen’s home is in Kallio, and in recent years it has taken on a completely new meaning in her life. Home has become a luxury that she sometimes has sadly little time to enjoy.
Training camps and competition trips constantly take the athlete to different corners of the world, such as South Africa, France, Turkey and Tenerife. This year, she will spend more than 14 weeks travelling.
“Travelling is exhausting, constant packing and sitting on a plane. When travelling, I miss the routines I have at home and being able to do what I want,” Viivi says.
The best part is returning home.
“When I get home and have some time off, I don’t necessarily have the energy to go anywhere at first. I relax on the sofa, read books on my iPad and watch TV shows.”
15-minute metro or scooter ride to nearly anywhere from Kallio
Viivi Lehikoinen has been happily living in Kallio for six years now, and sees no reason to move away. For most of that time, she has lived in rental apartments right in the heart of Kallio: first on Agricolankatu, then next to the library.
“Renting was a good way to get familiar with the area as it gave me first-hand experience of what everyday life is like around here. It takes me 15 minutes to get from Kallio to practice at the Urhea Hall in Mäkelänrinne and the Olympic Stadium by scooter or bike, or to Liikuntamylly in Myllypuro by metro. A car would be useless here.”
Kallio has always had an abundant offering of small apartments, including Lumo homes.
Last year, Viivi moved into a large single apartment of 32 square metres on Toinen linja. It suits her current life situation perfectly.
“Decorating a small home is more affordable.”
Appealing location and unique atmosphere
Many are surely wondering what on earth a disciplined top athlete is doing in the bohemian Kallio. Viivi Lehikoinen finds the stereotypical conceptions amusing. In her view, the familiar district is a more diverse area than its reputation suggests.
“Kallio has excellent services and great public transport connections everywhere. Location was one of the most important criteria to me when I started looking for an apartment,” Viivi says.
“Kallio really has a unique atmosphere."
Kallio has an almost iconic status in the cityscape of Helsinki. Its beautiful art nouveau buildings and trams speeding along the streets have been featured in novels, songs and TV shows.
“Kallio really has a unique atmosphere. And even though it’s always thought of as a place for young people, there are many families with children and older people living here.”
In the summer, Kallio is filled with flea markets and park picnics
Viivi has 8 to 9 practices a week, sometimes both in the morning and evening. The hard work has paid off: last season, Viivi set the Finnish records in the 300 and 400 metre hurdles. The Lumo grant and sponsorship programme has supported Viivi since 2022.
“Hurdling is a demanding sport. It requires perseverance and discipline. In that sense, I know I’m in a rather different life situation than many of the young people living in the neighbourhood. But the best thing about Kallio is tolerance: I’ve never been judged. There’s room for all kinds of people here,” Viivi says.
Viivi shares a similar lifestyle with her boyfriend, cross-country skier Verneri Suhonen from Lahti. Although the young couple does not live together, Kallio has become a natural meeting place for them.
“Of course, Kallio is at its best in the summer when the parks are filled with picnics and flea markets. I usually spot upcoming events in Kallio’s Facebook group.”
Breakfast in a restaurant and forests just a stone’s throw away
Although Viivi admits to being an enthusiastic home cook, Kallio also offers a wide variety of restaurants for eating out. Sometimes she heads to Sävy Coffee Bar on Aleksis Kiven katu for breakfast, or has pasta for lunch at Way Bakery on Agricolankatu.
"Kallio offers a wide variety of restaurants for eating out."
“If I’m feeling lazy, I might order Vietnamese food from Lie Mi via Wolt. I have a pretty strict diet and I guess I’m a bit picky, too, but there are usually plenty of options to choose from in Kallio.”
As a counterbalance to urban city life, you can also find nature near Kallio. On her days off, Viivi likes to cycle or scoot along the beautiful Isoisänsilta bridge to Mustikkamaa.
A strip of sea separates the cliffs and forests of Mustikkamaa and the high-rise buildings of Kalasatama on the opposite shore. “It reminds me of how diverse the scenery can be even within central Helsinki. You just have to find the good spots.”
Viivi’s favourite places near Kallio
- Kulttuurisauna, Merihaka.
- Restaurant Harju 8, Kallio.
- Sävy Coffee Bar, Kallio.
- Way Bakery, Kallio.
- Mustikkamaa and Isoisänsilta bridge.
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