Sail Away

Trip Start Sep 02, 2006
Trip End Sep 27, 2006

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Today was my chance to get away from the rest of the crowd and head over to Helsinki on a day trip. The others decided that they wanted to stay over in Estonia and do a little more sightseeing, I however wanted to head over the Baltic Sea to Finland and do some exploring on my own before we headed on up to Lapland.
I will steal a diary off one of the others and write about what they got up to at some point in the next day or two.

I think I managed to wake up most of the other folk in the dorm with my alarm clock as I "snoozed" it about 4 times before finally getting up and turning it off. I said my goodbyes to Bendy as I wouldn't see her again until we were all back in Edinburgh and headed off to the ferry terminal. She is heading back to the UK tomorrow before heading onwards to a thunderstormy Menorca for a week of sun, sea, sand and sangria - maybe not all in the same jug! I arrived at the terminal about 10AM and there was a catamaran crossing in about 20 minutes time, I grabbed a ticket, for a scandalous 20 quid, and hopped onboard. There are a number of methods of crossing the Baltic between Tallinn and Helsinki ranging from Helicopters to large over night ferries to long slow ferries (3.5 hours) to catamarans (1.5 hours) the quicker the crossing the higher the price as a rule of thumb. I headed up to the bridge just in time to get a captains eye view heading out of the port of Tallinn. Once in full ocean flow I headed up onto deck for a view of the Baltic coast on the north east of Estonia and to take in some sea breeze before heading back in for a coffee and a read on Helsinki.

On arrival I headed straight for the Railway station so that I could dump my pack in one of the storage lockers and just carry my day pack about with me, after all I don't want to be taking out the poor Finns with my rather large backpack, do I? From there, I headed to the TIC and picked up a few maps and then just hopped straight on a guided bus tour around the city. The bus took me on a loop all around the most historic or important buildings in the centre before heading out of the town a bit to the Olympic Stadium and up to the Sibelius monument, in honour of the Finnish composer of the same name. The final stop was a church that has been cut into the ground rather than being built on top of it. *** I will add some more information on the church soon*** The whole ride with an English recorded narration lasted for about 1 and a half hours and cost about 12 quid or so. By the way, the tour was available with Latin narration as well, as Latin has been chosen as the official language of the EU. Go figure!

After a bit of a wander around the town I headed to the Helsinki Horizons exhibit in the Helsinki Museum. The exhibit is all about the history of the city and its growth over time. It had lots of interesting artifacts on display from varying shop layouts from days gone by to tools used in the industrial revolution, a bit of Helsinki trivia for you: Helsinki has been totally obliterated by fires a whole 5 times, the most devastating of which was caused in 1647 by somebody carelessly extinguishing a cigarette, wouldn't have happened if the had the smoking ban, tut tut! After my jaunt around the museum I headed to Stockmans department store for a wander. I am led to believe that the Helsinki Stockmans is the biggest department store in Europe and their slogan is "If you can't get it in Stockmans then maybe it just isn't worth having"! I had a look round for a bit and I guess it pretty much compares to a John Lewis in the UK.

In the evening I met up with a friend Sanna, whom I met during my work placement year, and was born and works in Finland. She had agreed to meet up for a drink and a bite to eat as I was visiting her home country. We had planned to take a ferry across to a nearby island but when we got to the terminal, we must have missed the sailing as the next one wasn'tīt due for another half hour. We decided to go for a bite to eat on dry land instead. The restaurant we chose had a film theme and featured posters from a number of Finnish films and some of the menu items were named after famous Finnish film actors. Sanna had to head off to a work engagement so I nipped back to the railway station to grab my pack before meeting the rest of the gang who had set sail from Tallinn earlier that evening. After catching up with them and hearing about their day, we hopped on the airport bus to take us to our residence for the evening - Helsinki Vantaa airport. Lapland here we come!
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