Walking in the sun in Helsinki

Trip Start Jun 21, 2013
Trip End Jul 07, 2013

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Flag of Finland  , Southern Finland,
Wednesday, June 26, 2013

We were told by Lonely Planet that Helsinki only really began as a city in the 16thC, and until 19thC it remained a smallish market town and was bombed in WWII which means it doesn't have the pretty medieval buildings of Tallinn, but then again it also does not have the "big city" feel of Stockholm. To us it felt more like a smaller city, like some of the other Nordic capitals we have visited where cars aren't particularly catered for, accordingly it had more charm than a big city.

We did some washing in the morning, which was a great help after the few days of heat and humidity, which brings me nicely to the flat we stayed in. We had used Air BnB in Norway and both flats were brilliant. The flat we are staying in, is someone's home… and really seems like we are staying over in someone’s place. All their stuff is here… including their taxidermied animals… I think we suffered from not meeting him as there was no real guide left for us, just a scribbled note admitting that he had had a bad morning. Luckily we have internet so were able to translate the washing machine (after locating it) and we have everything else ourselves, after Norway we even brought some food with us for dinners. We are also making sandwiches for lunch, saving some money.

Our walking tour on day one started in misty cloudy weather, with both of us in shorts and t-shirts starting to wonder whether we had worn the wrong outfits… however by mid-afternoon, the sun was out and the weather was lovely – not too hot, and very little humidity which was nice.

The walking tour took us to the “major” sites in Helsinki and up to the Olympic Stadium that hosted the 1952 Olympics. We went up the tower (which luckily had a lift) and then found the hostel where Dad stayed when he was here in the 70’s. Apparently it is the cheapest hostel in Helsinki, built into the back of the stadium (which is a little weird) and as it is the cheapest it can get the “odd curious character” staying there… so Dad, no change there then!

Tomorrow it is off to some of the islands in the harbour, and hopefully good weather, but so far we have enjoyed Helsinki more than Stockholm it comes across as a sweet city and our impression of Stockholm seemed a bit more disparate and impersonal.

Day 2 – Suomenlinna

Today we took a 15 minute ferry over to the UNESCO heritage site called Suomenlinna which was a military fortress started in 18thC and now has a load of museums and tourist attraction as well as the Finnish Naval Academy.

We spent the day wandering round in the lovely weather slowly getting burnt, which was a real shame!

The whole facility is set over 4 interconnected islands and avoided the museums, except for the WWII submarine which we did visit. Couldn't believe how small the submarine was, but did like the comment that all Finnish submariners were all volunteers who were not aptitude tested as you couldn't tell until they were down there under pressure who would make a good submariner… not sure I would have liked to be down there when one of the others decided that they weren't fit for the job!

All in all we have enjoyed Helsinki and have been luckier with the weather than the stinking hot humidity of Tallinn or the cloudiness of Stockholm.
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Freda Surgenor on

Yes, Dad went "ha ha" at your remark about "odd characters" staying at the hostel. Glad your weather has perked up for you now. And we enjoyed your photos. You do seem to be enjoying this holiday..........apart from the washing machine.........still, that's all part of the fun isn't it?

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