Saturday 15th Sept
A big travel day today... woke up at a horrid 4am to get ready and get a taxi to the airport. Luckily there were other people also going so we could share a cab and split the costs. At the airport I checked in using the machines but the bag drop line was one of the longest airport check in lines I've ever seen. So after noticing online check in people got to cut in line, I checked in online using my phone and got a mobile QR barcoded boarding pass which allowed me to cut in line also - yay! It was then through security, and to maccas for a healthy early morning breaky of tea and a mcmuffin. It was then time to board for the 3hour flight to Amsterdam, during which I slept and blogged and even got fed for free, woah! Arriving in Amsterdam I had a 2 hour stop over so just wandered around the airport for a while before going to the gate for my next flight. I boarded the 3 hour flight to Helsinki during which I did some photo sorting and sleeping and again got fed. I finally arrived in Helsinki at 5.30pm after a big day of travelling leaving on my first flight at 7am, although there is afew hours time difference). I caught a bus to just outside the main city where I met Suvi, a local girl who was kind enough to host me at her house through couch surfing.
This was both of our first couch surfing experiences so that was exciting. She seemed like a lovely, friendly and easy to talk to person (with perfect english of course) and we went back to her apartment which she shared with two also very lovely finnish girls.
Here we stayed and chatted for a while, listening to her flatmates practice violin and also listening to their bands music (Suvi, her flatmates and other friends have a band with some fantastic songs).
After a while we headed out into the chilly weather to go for a walk around town, where we wandered past the pretty harbour, through the city streets, past some beautiful churches, many monuments and important buildings until we made our way to a little noodle shop where we sat and had dinner while listening to a band practice their heavy growling rock music behind a mysterious wall...
After dinner we headed back to the apartment where we spent the night chatting as there was myself, Suvi, her two finnish housemates, her finnish friend and two czech girls, so it was a very international evening. Eventually it was time for bed and I went to sleep on her nice, comfy couch.
Sunday 16th Sept
Had a nice sleep in today on the comfy couch in the cosy room. Suvi and I both woke up at abut 11am and we then had breaky, got dressed and ready to go out. Suvi had some work to do in the morning so she gave me a map, highlighted some things to see and do and then we walked into town together before seperating off.
I wandered through the town past the many many shops, along the tram lines in the wide streets of big buildings. I made my way to the other side of town towards a church builtout of a huge rock with an strange UFO shaped roof (that sat on top of the rock).
I had to wait about 40mins to go in as there was a service on, so I went to the nearby park and layed on a park bench in the sun like a homeless person... it was actually comfy and lovely between the trees and flowers under the bright blue sky.
When it was time I headed back and went into the church which was quite minimalist inside as its main feature was the solid rock walls and the roof constructed of over 22km of copper strips. It was quite fascinating and I stayed here for the alloted 15mins allowed to us.
From here I took a tram north to where a monument stood for a famous Finnish composer, made of hundreds of heavy metal pipes (which looked like it made the shape of oz!).
I then took the tram back to the centre, checked out the big, white, pretty Lutheren church (a main symbol of Helsinki) then wandered through some markets in market square before meeting up with Suvi in the afternoon. We met at the ferry station where we got the ferry to Suomenlinna Island (which means the castle fo Finland as Suomi is finnish for Finland - another country name that sounds completely different in English than the native language).
We arrived within ten minutes and we went for a wander around the small (but inhabited) island. The island was originally used as a fortress to protect Finlands coastal boarders and so has big walls and gates with cannons and lots of hobbit like mounds with rooms inside for protection.
We walked around the pretty island which was extreemly windy, so we found a calmer spot in the sun on the grass to sit and have a little picnic of juice, funny but yummy finnish crisps, little finnish licourise type lollies, and my favourite, finnish 'pies' made of a flat bready crust with rice or potato or carrot inside. They are quite small and flat and more the sort of small fruit type pies then our aussie meat pies, but they look squased and have no 'lid'.
Anyway, not a great description but they tasted great! After a while we went to meet Suvi's boyfriend who was also very nice. We wandered around the island again with him, as he had never been before (despite living in Finland his whole life!) which was nice. We then took the ferry back to mainland Helsinki and got the tram back near the apartment where we got some pasta from the supermarket and headed back to make some dinner. Suvi cooked a delicious tomato and shrimp pasta which we had with some Finnish beer. We also had little cinnomen scrolls which were very tasty and to top it off had some icecream :) (and a finnish apple that Suvis housemate brought from her parents house). By this time it was pretty late, so after more sociallising with everyone, we made our way to bed.
Monday 17th Sept
Today was a bit of a travel fail... basically I woke at 6.30 and was supposed to get the 8am ferry to Tallinn in Estonia, but I was so tired and lazy I decided to take a later, more expensive one. So I went back to sleep waking up at 10.30, which was when the first other ferry was that I was going to take. So much for that, but it was ok as there was one at 1.30 also. So I rested my eyes just for a second and woke up at 12.30! This wasn't good as it would take at least 30mins to get to the ferry terminal and I was supposed to get there between 1 hour to 20mins before hand. So I rushed out of bed and out of the apartment, down to the tram station, waited a painful 8mins for the tram, walked the 10mins to the ferry terminal... and it was 1.25. Fail. But it was still ok because they had a 4.30 ferry, or so I thought, but when I asked when the next one was it was at 9.30pm! But I knew there was a 4.30pm one with another company (the one I was going to go with at 8am) but it was over the other side of town. Thankfully I had a couple of hours so made my way via 2 trams to the other terminal, bought my ticket and had a relazing 2 hour wait for my ferry. I fiiiinally boarded, spent the 3 hour journey blogging, photoing and reading, and arrived in Tallinn thankfully while it was still light.