When I go to a new town or city, I like to explore but it’s easy to find myself on the same familiar routes. When we go to Helsinki we head into the city centre or to the harbour, following the tram tracks and the wide boulevards that lead to the market. Sometimes I need to turn my back on the familiar paths and choose a different direction.
I don’t have a great sense of direction so when I go walking on my own, I like a route that doesn’t have too many junctions, staying on the same road allows me to return when I want to by just turning round, without remembering turns and sidetracks.
The day I found the beach, I wasn’t looking for it, I was just trying a different path; I had walked past a large cemetery and found myself in a park, with a wide path for walkers and cyclists that invited me to keep going on, to see what was round the next corner, and the next corner.
I kept thinking I should start to turn back, but curiosity pulled me forward and finally I found myself on a road where sand filled the gutters. I walked through the trees and found myself on the beach; out of season and too cold to go in the water, but still an exciting discovery. It felt like I was the only one who knew it was there.
Unlike the bendy footpath which I had been following the road ran in a straight line and buses travelled along it, towards what I guessed should be the town centre. I followed the road and in much less time found myself back in the city and at my hotel.
I returned to the beach in the summer, when the once empty sand was filled with people making the most of the short Finnish summer.