is also a large amusement
on the outskirts of Helsinki
, consisting of half a dozen
Serena Water Park
The biggest reason to visit, and one of the
places in Helsinki especially in the winter, is the Serena Water Park
Now the observant reader may recall that Helsinki
is on the 60th parallel,
not terribly far from the Arctic Circle
, and wonder whether this is
compatible with frolick
ing about in a bikini
-- but that's what
makes Serena unique: 2000 m2
of the park
, which allows the water park to stay open all
And boy, do they pack some stuff into that cavernous hall. There are
five large water slides catering to all tastes: the Aquatube drops
you down a 45 degree slide at over 40 km/h, the nameless light blue slide
is gentler but 140 meters long, and everybody's favorite, the new
Black Hole, plunges you through complete darkness punctuated with
spacey light effects. The unpredictable Wild Stream (Villivirta)
river ride circles the hall and through the rock, with new surprises
after each bend.
Then there are waterfalls, jacuzzis, a wave pool, and of course
(this is Finland after all) a dedicated sauna section.
In the Turkish steam sauna you can even find yourself face to face
with naked members of the opposite sex -- although there is a railing
and a dense fog of steam in the way. And during the summer, another 1000
square meters of aquatic fun is opened up.
But the best part of this is that the hall has plenty of windows, which
means that you can settle down in a warm jacuzzi with a drink from the
bar in your hand, wrap an arm around a blonde Nordic goddess barely
by her swimsuit (hint: you may wish to ask permission first), and then
enjoy the fact that you are not outside, where the temperature
is -25°C and the wind is blowing straight from Siberia.
The heating bill for the place boggles the mind.
Oddly enough, some people actually seem to like
going up and down
hills in such weather, an expensive habit that Serena Ski
is happy to
accommodate. There are five slopes
and four lift
s, but southern Finland
is terribly flat
so the maximum descent is a whopping 60 meters. In
the summer, the ski slopes transform into the Serena Mountain
, where you can roll down those same slopes in little
"EKO" cars powered by the fearsome force of gravity
-- not one of the
more successful bits of the Serena Empire.
Much of the water park has been dug into the hillside, so lurking in its
bowels are also two restaurants. The family-friendly Granina
s and chip
s at inflated prices, but it has an effective monopoly;
Restaurant is only open for conferences and other
Costs and Getting There
The water park is open every day (except Christmas) 11-20. Entry
costs €15 for a full day and €11 for the 16-20 evening ticket;
in my opinion, four hours is just about right, unless you've got
kids in tow.
Ski passes cost from €13 (2 hours) to €20 (full day), but are
perhaps best combined with the water park for a relatively affordable
€22. Ski rental is also available.
The best way to get to Serena is by your own car, or do as the
Russians do and take an entire tour bus. If you have to resort to
public transportation, bus 339KT from Helsinki's Central Bus Station
will do the trip in 40-50 minutes, but these run less than once per
hour so check schedules beforehand.