I feel like I haven’t really been to Helsinki because Lillian and I were only there for a day. Like most of our days in Tallinn, it was also cold in Finland’s capital during our visit. My memory of Helsinki is as hazy and misty like that summer day.
To get there from Tallinn, we took an 8:00 ferry. There are three major ferry companies operating the Tallinn- Helsinki route. The receptionist at our hotel recommended for us to take the one from Viking line because a) its terminal is the one closest to the hotel so it will save us time from walking, b) it’s cheaper, and 3) its terminal in Helsinki is just walking distance to the city’s highlights. We were sold instantly.
The funny thing is, this ferry ride is what I remember most of this trip especially the return to Tallinn. The karaoke, the live band in another room and the busy bars and restaurants, they reminded me of ferry rides in the Philippines. A taste of home, no matter how slight, is always welcome.
A city is a city. This is what I often answer whenever someone asks me about some cities I have been to in Europe. What sets Helsinki slightly apart is it’s the first one I’ve been to that has information carts with free maps and printed guides at its major tourist areas. There’s also at least one person next to the cart whom you can ask about anything to help you navigate around the city to maximize your stay. Quite impressive, I must say.
For our one day in Helsinki, Lillian and I decided to spend most of it in the island fortress of Suomenlinna. Ferries go there from the market square very often especially in summer. It’s a beautiful island with plenty of museums and plenty of space for everyone no matter how crowded it can get in summer. For once I didn’t mind the crowd. It was just really cold, windy and gloomy.
I would have loved to stay and explore the island more if we had more time. Now that I’m older, I’m not into cities or crowded places. I like to be in a place devoid of noise, to breathe in the fresh, crisp air, to just be. I can imagine that in Soumenlinna especially in the low season. I just have to wear thicker clothes and everything would be perfect.
Above photo showed us humans adjusting our pace to these waddling birds before us. There were quite a lot of them in the island. I’m educationally lacking when it comes to birds or animals in general. When I got home I asked my husband if these were some kind of Nordic ducks. My husband said they’re not ducks but geese. True enough they’re actually barnacle geese. The things you learn when you travel.
It was already afternoon when we got back to Helsinki. The market square was still in full swing. We walked around to check its famous white cathedral which is quite close to the market. Another cathedral called Uspenski is also within walking distance. From there we just walked towards its main shopping area, past locals and tourists enjoying their afternoon coffee, past big brands having their summer sale. Lillian and I weren’t in a mood for shopping. We just wanted to head back to the ferry terminal and call it a day.
- Tallinn – Helsinki return fare costs €33 per person.
- Be sure to be at the ferry terminal 30 minutes before departure. That only gives you 10 minutes extra time before boarding closes. Yes, you are required to have your ID/ passport for boarding
- Helsinki is quite pricey especially when you’re at the touristy part of the city. One bowl of soup costs about €13. Main course starts from €20.
- Don’t skip on Suomenlinna island. I actually liked it better than Helsinki itself.
Date of visit: August 4, 2019