Helsinki there are two ferry services from ...

Trip Start Apr 01, 2001
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Finland  ,
Thursday, August 2, 2001


There are two ferry services from Stockholm to Helsinki - Viking line and Silja. Viking line is about half the price of Silja, and has free "Sleep-ins"... So, this is the ship all the cheapo backpackers travel on. The boats depart at almost the same time and travel in convoy to Helsinki. We boarded at 5pm and found ourselves a pleasant spot in one of the Sleep-ins. These are conference rooms with all the furniture remmoved so there is plenty of space to roll out your sleeping bag on the floor. The room had floor to ceiling windows, and we spent several hours watching the scenery as we zig-zagged between thousands of tiny islands.

Paul went to explore the ship and "stumbled upon" the Duty Free Shop. He returned with three different flavours of Swedish cider, beers from Lapland, Finnish vodka and orange, and some tequilla ... for himself... and a Toblerone for Tonya... so thoughtful!

We lounged around on our sleeping bags eating and drinking whilst the sun went down.

At 4:00am Paul awoke from a pleasant dream involving a leggy blond, to find that a shorter and morphologically doughier verson trying to get in bed with him! He sat up and realized that, although when we had gone to sleep there were only four of us in the room, there were now so many bodies that there was no way to avoid feeling the heat and breathing the alcohol fumes from the people either side of you.

Hostel Academica, Hietaniemenkatu 14, (FIM95 per person) was pretty good,aside from the fact that it is at the opposite end of Helsinki from the Viking line Terminal. It had free morning saunas and a swimming pool, but we never got up early enough to try them.

With no time to rest we dumped our packs at the hostel and joined an Historical City Walking Tour. As soon as we started walking the heavens opened - This rain was worse than a Bermuda downpour, but we took shelter in Helsinki Cathedral, and, by the time we came out, so had the sun. The tour should have been named "Feminist Helsinki" because for every building we saw, our Finnish lady guide had a story to tell about it where the hero was a woman. Not only does Finland have a women president (Tarja Halonen), but women also comprise of 60% of the population.

One of the strangest things we saw looked as if a UFO had landed in the middle of Helsink... It was actually the Temppelioukio Church, built into a pile of rocks.
Other highlighs of Helsinki included:-
The Uspenski Cathederal
Senate Square
Helsinki University
The Presidential Palace

Paul had read that films in Finland are shown with the original soundtrack and with Finnish and Swedish subtitles. As we are heading off to Russia, Mongolia and China - where we will be starved of English language entertainment, we decided to take this oportunity to get our "fix". Unfortunately our choice of film could not have been worse... "Traffic" ... a good half of this film is set in Tijuana and the soundtrack switches to Spanish!

The rest of our time in Helsinki was spent in the University library where they have free unlimited internet access, and shopping for supplies to take on the Trans Siberian Railway.
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