15-16 Aug 2013
We stayed almost the whole 10-11 hours in the cabin, resting. We arrived around 7am and we didn’t any more have time to explore Turku because our train to Helsinki would leave in less than hour. The train station is conveniently built just a few meters walk from the port. Turku Satama to Helsinki was again, a about 2.45hours train ride.
We then reached the train central station bought or 2-day Public transport ticket at 18 Euros each, inclusive of the airport bus from K-kiosk. We went for lunch to replenish our malnourished systems and then headed to the tourist information kiosk.
Helsinki public transportation was bewildering and disorientating for beginners, actually. We wasted about 1-2 hours just to find our trip’s most luxurious accommodation. We got an apartment, for ourselves, from CheapSleep. Check in was in a different place.
The apartment was interestingly designed and arranged, small but quite charming. The books the owner has were also interesting. Anyway, I think it was worth the amount we paid for.
That day was the feast of the Assumption, a day of obligation hence, we managed to get a taste of Finnish mass. We then headed to the grand red-bricked, Uspenski Cathedral. We could already see this Eastern Orthodox cathedral, standing tall and splendid atop a small hill, near the market square, from afar. It was closed when we reached there.
We walked to the Senate Square, I didn’t know why, but the rush I felt was like when I saw the Taj Mahal. It was a white, neatly painted building. This architecture was said to be an allegory of political, religious, scientific and commercial power. The surrounding areas of the square were the oldest part of Central Helsinki. It was nearby the Esplanade park, whereby people would usually gather and drink on a weekend night.
We walked along the park until we reached the main road, Mannerheimintie. We initially planned to get to the Parliament house but it was getting dark, therefore, photos wouldn’t anymore be as pretty if we did. We just decided to get our dinner at K-kiosk and because we were completely disoriented in this city, we just decided to walk home and not try to take public transport once again. After an hour, we reached home safely.
Day two in Helsinki, we started off our day by walking along now busy, Market Square in search for the public boat going to the UNESCO Heritage listed site, Sea Fortress, Suomenlinna. There were many privately-owned boats parked near the square, so just ask where the HSL ferries are. This ferry’s service is included if you purchase the day ticket. It’s part of the Helsinki city transport system.
This fortress is not only an attraction but also a home to 800 residents. Inside, we were able to see the following; Suomellina Church, it was a Russian Orthodox Church in 1854, and in 1920’s , early days of Finnish independence, it was converted into an Evangelical-Lutheran church; the Kustaanmiekka, a coastal defense line with its earthworks and gun’s constructed by the Russians at the end of 19th century and lastly, the King’s Gate.
I think, a day should be allocated in this vast island fortress. We on the other hand, had to leave not being able to see everything this place has to offer because we still had few more places to visit.
Next on the list was LUNCH! We headed back to the Market Square to have the trip’s best lunch ever, costing 10Euros, we had grilled salmon, with lots of veggies and rice.Yumm. During the day, along Market square, there were many other options for food, and shopping, therefore, if you are into those, allocate an hour or more walking along the square.
Next,we went to the Parliament Building and a unique sculpture, Sibelius Monument which was unveiled in 1967. This was designed by Ella Hiltunen to allow visitors to interact with the design. After this, we headed home.
Ooops, there’s another bonus, while walking along the Kaivopuisto Park (near the shore and botanical garden) we witnessed 6-7 hot air balloons being inflated and prepared to fly. We waited a while until all the balloons flew off the cold air.
Last day in Finland, last day of our holiday of a lifetime. The next day, we took the public bus at Kamppi to the airport.
Tips, Practicalities and Blahs:
Confusing Public transport, ask specifically or study more on the trams and buses you might need to take.
Alepa or K-market are the cheapest in the city. Shop there.