After getting off the ferry we followed the crowd to the city centre and with great ease came upon the bus heading to our http://www.couchsurfing.org host’s house. He was a Korean man living and studying in Helsinki, Finland. We didn’t have much time there but with him chatting about all that the city had to offer and showing us around the next day, we got to see more than expected.
After a relaxing evening and good night’s sleep, we set out for the city centre the next morning. On the way, our host brought us into his university campus and showed us his lab experiments. He was writing a thesis on the benefits of mixing decomposing wood into soil to enhance growth. As a permaculture enthusiast, I tried to absorb as much of his knowledge as I could. En route to town, we also passed an incredible sculpture of a gorilla, made completely of car tires. It was a great way of utilising (along with building earthships) such a destructive waste product. We arrived in town and saw all the main attractions such as the pristine Helsinki Cathedral and
the Uspenski Cathedral standing proud on it’s rock. I made my way inside to rest my sensitive Irish skin from the blazing sun and although the cool air was refreshing, the interior of the Uspenski just didn’t compare to the grandeur of it’s exterior presence. We continued on. This time, we meandered down to the port to board a small ferry to the Island of Suomenlinna, which is now a UNESCO world Heritage site. As we waited in the blistering heat for the MS Suomenlinna II to come along, our host discussed how comfortable he felt living in Finland. He had lived in different parts of the country and spoke of his experiences of the
extreme north, a place I’d someday love to visit. Our ferry arrived and we set sail, admiring all the little islands along the way, each with quaint little houses perched on their jagged rocks. On arrival to the island we made our way through the fortress arch and down the picturesque main street before
arriving at the barracks. Our host explained the whole history of Finland’s many bouts with Russia and how between the two sides, this well fortified structure emerged. The subterranean bunkers were still in perfect condition with their chimney breasts springing from the grassy hill above like mushrooms.
This island is now a popular picnic destination for the locals and it was great to see so many people out and about. As I watched a few kids playing on the rocks I was pleased with the fact that a place of war was now offering so much recreation and leisure.
After.returning to the mainland, we went back to our host’s place for a delicious barbecue on the balcony. We awoke the next day energised and enthusiastic, albeit late for our ferry. As we sprinted through the city centre and docklands, I was sure we’d miss it. Yet, it seems Finland and Ireland have more in common than I had previously thought. The ferry departed fifteen minutes late, allowing us time to board. As we pulled out of the harbour catching our breath and sweating profusely, we were satisfied with our experience and ready for what lay ahead in Tallinn.
Good news I guess for environmentalists too. The ferries on those Viking Line routes now run on natural gas as opposed to diesel. It ain’t solar but it’s a start. Check it out!
Click Map: http://goo.gl/maps/G9wlC
- Tales from Tallinn, Helsinki and Somewhere in Between (polisyear.wordpress.com)
- Helsinki (smilingandlaughing.wordpress.com)
- Nice to meet you, Helsinki (jmorrise.wordpress.com)
- Travel Photo of the Day 04-22-2013 (politonomicsandtravel.wordpress.com)
- Tallinn, Estonia: Best Old Town Ever. (worldwidewanderers.wordpress.com)
- Finland considers a rail tunnel between Helsinki and Tallinn (shaan.typepad.com)
- Helsinki (unified-magazine.com)
- Helsinki, Finland (almondnuts.wordpress.com)