A Day in Helsinki, Finland

A Day in Helsinki, Finland

I took the cruise to St. Petersburg the day I arrived into Helsinki. I didn’t explore Helsinki during my arrival. I was exhausted from the lack of sleep sitting in coach for 12 hours. I immediately checked into my airBnB and slept until 3pm. I woke up, got ready, and headed towards the Helsinki Port. You can read more about my trip to St. Petersburg here:

The journey back to Helsinki was a lot smoother than entering into St. Petersburg, Russia. The passport control was quick. I just flashed my passport, got it stamped and I was on my way.

Where to Stay:

I decided to book a room at the Hostel Diana Park in the city center for €32. It was still early morning when I arrived back into Helsinki so I decided to take the 20 minute walk to the hostel instead of paying for the bus. It was a simple walk thanks to my GPS. I arrived ahead of my check in time but dropped off my bags and decided to explore a bit. There wasn’t anything special about Diana Park Hostel. I was in a coed room with 4 others. There were 2 showers on the floor and a tiny restroom. The hostel also included 2 computers in the common room, free coffee and tea in the kitchen, and a few Helsinki Guide Books.

What to Do:

The rain started coming down. I’m not a fan of the rain, unless I’m indoors under the covers. The city was still covered in Holiday Decorations: Lights strung through the streets, ornaments hung through the walk ways. It felt like Christmas except without the snow. 

helsinki_1There wasn’t much going on in Helsinki. It feels like the city shuts down for the winter. There were no city tours or even a hop on hop off bus. I decided to do a self-guided tour and got lost along the way. Sometimes that’s just the best way to see the city.

After lunch, I decided to head back to the hostel to check in. I dropped off my things in my room and chatted a bit with my hostel-mates before venturing out to one of Finland’s islands.

Finland is known for their saunas and islands. Suomenlinna is one of easiest accessible islands. It can be reached by a 20 minute ferry. The ferry departs throughout the day from Market Square port about 4 times every hour. If you purchased a day pass, you can hop on the ferry with no additional cost. I purchased a 12 hour ferry fare for €5. Tickets can be purchased at the booth in Market Square port. DSC_0259

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I arrived in Suomenlinna shortly after 16:30 (4:30pm) and it was already getting dark. It was pouring at this point. I tucked my dslr camera away and opted to take photos with my Samsung s7. I grabbed a map of the island at the information center and determined to hit all the big landmarks. As time ticked away, the island got darker and I felt alone. My determination now became hope of surviving the night. Yes, my mind ran wild. helsinki_3 I imagine the island to be beautiful during the summer months or even the day time. There are citizens who live on the island. I can see them walking through the streets with their families. If there is anything I could change about my walk through the island, is not going there at a different hour but to wear comfortable shoes. The roads are rocky (literally) and hiking shoes would better suffice.
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I took the 7pm boat ride back to the mainland. I met another hostel-mate and we decided to grab dinner.

Where to Eat:

  • Buddha Bar | Annankatu 6, 00120 Helsinki, Finland

2017_12_29_13_26_47My hands and my nose were freezing. I wanted something warm to fill me up. I came across an Asian Fusion Restaurant called Buddha Bar around lunch time that served Thai Noodle Boat (€12). I came in, ordered from the menu listed on the wall and grabbed an open seat. The water and utensils were self served and the meal was delivered quickly. I found the tomato topping to be quite peculiar. The food didn’t hit my standard but it kept me warm for a few minutes. 

2017_12_29_19_57_14For dinner, my hostelmate and I ran into a kabob place located inside a mall. We didn’t know it was a mall until we sat down. We decided to order the combo which included 2 orders of swerrma, fries, salad, and a drink for €18.50. It was a steal considering the high price items in Helsinki. 

Things To Know Before Going To Helsinki:

  • Wear comfortable shoes. I thought cobble stones were uncomfortable to walk on. In Helsinki, some of the roads are jagged and will hurt the balls of your feet.
  • If possible, avoid traveling during the winter. The days are short and most of the attractions are closed for the season.
  • Finns tend to keep to themselves. You have to put effort in meeting the locals.
  • Finns do not jaywalk. They wait patiently for the light to change.
  • Public Transit ends around Midnight. Taxi’s are expensive but if needed, you must call for one. Uber is illegal in the country.

 

Next Stop: 2 Days in Tallinn, Estonia

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