We boarded the Silja Line Ferry from Stockholm which transported us through the most beautiful scenery traveling the Swedish archipelago into Helsinki harbour. The journey took 15 hours and I’m sure the rocking of the boat made us all punch drunk as we all missed the arrival crashed out asleep in our cabin.
We quickly grabbed our bags and walked the 15 minutes to our hotel, the Hotel Fabian. Of course Lucas has come a long way in pulling a suitcase. Since we started traveling Lucas is in charge of the “purple” suitcase. In Copenhagen a 5 minute walk from the train station took us 30 minutes as Lucas constantly stopped and complained about the difficulty of pushing and pulling a suitcase through cobblestone streets. He has now learnt that no matter how loud or long he takes he still has to pull that suitcase and the distance will still be the same.
As we had no idea about what to expect when we arrived in Helsinki here are a few facts.
Helsinki was established as a trading town by King Gustav I of Sweden in 1550. Little came of the plans as Helsinki remained a tiny town plagued by poverty, wars, and diseases. The plague of 1710 killed the greater part of the population. The construction of the naval fortress Suomenlinna in the 18th century helped improve Helsinki’s status as many workers were needed and came to settle. It was not until Russia defeated Sweden (as Finland was governed by Sweden ) in the Finnish War that The Russian Tsar annexed Finland as the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland in 1809 that the town began then developed into a city. Most of the city was devastated by fire in 1808 so the current Helsinki is only just over 200 years old.
Architecture along the harbour is all built in the 1800’s but as you wander the streets there is a mix of old and new.
Of course part of The Higgs family travels involves trying local delicacies. We made reservations at Nokka, named Restaurant of the Year 2012 in Finland. Organic food from Finnish farms served with much finesse. John had to order the Reindeer tartare with cold smoked reindeer bone marrow and cranberries. I couldn’t bring myself to try it but I’ll take his word for it, exquisite. The strawberries throughout our travels in Scandinavia have been mouth watering so the kids and I couldn’t pass up a simple but delicious dessert like organic strawberries with fresh Finn cattle milk ice cream. A wonderful dinner heavy on the hip pocket. Nothing here is cheap.. A glass of wine is 11 euros. We all walked back to our hotel along the harbour fat and happy.
We have been lucky enough to have amazing weather here in Helsinki. The sun has not stopped shining literally. We have trouble sleeping and can’t seem to get used to going to bed in daylight and waking up in daylight. We took a tour through the Finnish Archipelago and caught a glimpse of Local Finns relishing in their summer. Many locals have a boat or a summer house they migrate to for the summer to enjoy the waters surrounding their city.
Every day the harbour side becomes a sea of orange with stall holders erecting their tents selling fresh food and handicrafts.
We were intrigued to hear about the Rock Church so decided to pay a quick visit. Nestled behind Parliament house in the city centre, Temppeliaukio Church is a piece of modern Finland. It’s a church built in 1969 blasted out of natural bed rock. When we approached the church I though nothing of it but once you step inside it is truly serene and breathtaking.
We truly have enjoyed our brief time here, the people are friendly, the weather just right ( lets not discuss winter here) and the scenery stunning. The locals sense of humour a hoot too. I shall leave you with an excerpt from The Hotel Fabian’s placemat demonstrating the Finns quirky sense of humour.
English – Finnish Essentials How to survive in Helsinki
ON THE STREET:
That damned seagull took my meat pie = Tuo pahuksen Loki vei lihapiirakkani
Is that stuffed reindeers for sale? = Onko tuo taytetty poro myynnissa?
I’m so lost = Onpa taalla pimeaa
Can I scratch your dog = Saako tuota koiraa rapsuttaa?
Where is everybody? = Missa kaikki ihmiset ovat?
My hovercraft is full of eels = Ilmatyynyalukseni on Tanya ankeriaita