Day Trip Part I: A Morning in Helsinki, Finland’s Expensive Capital

My second day on Estonian ground was dawning. It was Sunday. The alarm got off at 7 am and I was wide awake before that. Today was the day; the first time I would step foot on a Finnish ground. 

IMG_1541.jpg

I am not sure why this seemed to be such a big thing for me but my heart was beating fast and I got up with this silly smile on my face. 

We got ready for breakfast, had a look at the clear blue skies and headed downstairs for an energizing breakfast that should keep us going at least until noon. 

After we had packed the small backpack, bringing water, bananas and granola bars for a first snack during the day, we were heading out and making our way to the old dock. 

We were led to a waiting area before we could board the catamaran 10 minutes later; departure should be 9.40 am, which is usually the first LindaLine that leaves for the Finnish capital. 

We paid about 28 Euros each for a return ticket, which I think acceptable. The ride over was said to take 1.40 hours.

We found ourselves a seat by the window on the surprisingly modern catamaran - and left charming Tallinn behind. 

Feeling the wind on my face felt so got. Being close to the sea lets my little heart beat faster each time; it’s always a certain feeling of freedom that arises. Sounds cheesy? I believe it is, but nonetheless, it makes me happy.

The morning was exceptionally beautiful and we stood outside as we watched Tallinn getting smaller and smaller. 

I have to admit that the first half hour or so we both felt a wee bit nauseous, for the catamaran speeded over the waves (well, not speeding in the sense of going 90 miles per hour but it was fast compared to other boats). 

After a relaxed one and a half hours, we finally got to spot Helsinki’s harbor. 

I immediately felt a rush of adrenaline running through my body and somehow, it’s coastline seemed to look exactly as I imagined it. 

Did you know that there are apparently 315 small islands around Helsinki? That’s…a lot. And I caught myself thinking about how nice it would be to own one of them, with a little cottage on it and a boat. 

Once we came closer to the city, everyone came outside, got their cameras ready and started taking pictures (I am not excluding myself here, obviously). 

I immediately had this certain feeling, this feeling of ‘oh my, this is beautiful, I have the impression that this city will not disappoint me but keep up with my expectations’ - whatever those might have been.Some things are just difficult to put into words, I guess. 

And there I was, standing on Finnish ground, with both feet. 

Welcome to Helsinki!

It was chilly, no, I found it quite cold. This might not be a surprise regarding the fact that Helsinki is one of the coldest cities on earth. 

It was market day by the harbor and so we couldn’t help but go for a quick stroll and look at all the crafts and deliciously smelling food. 

We then randomly started walking to see where we would end up. The first sight we stumbled upon was the Helsinki Cathedral (Helsingin tuomiokirkko), located on Senate Square. It is said to be one of the main landmarks of Helsinki and looks gorgeous.

We continued walking after we had found a city map for a little more orientation. I noticed that this is a very clean city. 

One thing that kept me grinning were those animals on some of the the street signs in the city. 

We experienced the city as being very modern. A little more than half a million people live here and it’s the only city in Finland that has trams and a subway. 

Here’s another animal street sign - with a rabbit on it. I somewhere read that Helsinki apparently has a bunny problem? 

I didn’t find a sign with a squirrel on it but this is Helsinki’s animal symbol. 

Speaking of animals…

T. and I continued walking through a comparatively calm city that we both felt very comfortable in. 

We then reached the renowned Rock Church, called Temppelíaukío Kirkko in Finnish. Damn, that must be a real hard language to learn but it sounds so cool. 

The ceiling is impressive. 

Surrounded by soothing music, we just sat there, silently, for a few minutes and I guess a feeling of appreciation deep down inside arose. It’s funny - although not really a religious person - how churches and cathedrals make me feel. 

Mr. T. checked the city map. When I am out and about with him, he is the one with a good sense of orientation - not me. It’s my weak spot, I admit it. But hey, I never know where I end up, which doesn’t necessarily have to be that bad. 

We then listened to our rumbling stomachs and tried to find something to eat. Something affordable. Seriously, the prices for food in Helsinki are mind-blowing. We had sneaky looks at different menus outside of restaurants and bistros. OH my. We eventually ended up at a Subway for a sandwich, located underground. Now, tell me about an authentic cultural experience. 

We paid about 13 Euros for a sub and a wrap which is usually 8 or 9 Euros. Expensive starts here. But a city trip with a headache and empty stomach certainly is no fun (I can just imagine that you agree) and living on a banana and cookies for the day is not ideal. We bit the bullet. 

Helsinki is a very green city, both in terms of public spaces and thinking. 

This shot couldn’t be missed. A unicorn? No, ‘einhörningen’. Definitely my favorite animal street sign in Helsinki. 

We strolled back to where we came from in the morning. 

Eventually back at the harbor, we bought our tickets. 2.50 Euros per person is a fair price compared to everything else in Helsinki. Huiii, I never thought that ‘expensive’ could be this…expensive. But if you live in Finland and have a good job, it probably relativizes. 

We waited for the small ferry that should take us to Suomenlinna to arrive. 

An island to ourselves? I quite liked this thought. 

…to be continued.