I’m in Helsinki. Due to the difficulty and expense of booking Canberra to Rejkavik all on on plane ticket I opted for a day in Helsinki before heading to Iceland.
I must say Finnair left a lot to be desired. I paid for the economy comfort seats which did indeed give me more legroom, but the seats were narrow and quite hard. The scenery through the night was interesting, flying over India you realise just how populated it is by the lights! The scenery landing at Helsinki was also quite stunning. The pilot also realised if he slammed the breaks on when landing he’d get a quick taxi to the arrival gate. He is probably an ex Finnish formula 1 driver.
Now while Finnair was not great the airport is efficient, while waiting for my bags I was able to get money from the ATM and also buy my train ticket into Helsinki. I then dropped my bag off at the luggage storage place and headed into Helsinki. Also if you didn’t buy a ticket from the many vending machines there is one on the train or the conductor will sell you one!
I arrived at Helsinki station around 8am which is quite early on a Saturday. Not much was open, but I knew where I was going to go for the morning and headed down to the harbour to find the ferry to Suomenlinna. I missed the early ferry but the Saturday markets had started up so I found a coffee place that did a wonderful ham, egg and cheese crepe. There was free refills on the coffee also. I finished my breakfast and found another ferry that also went to where I was going, 2 euros cheaper and leaving just after I boarded.
The ferry ride went past a few small islands, some no more than rocks jutting up from the sea, the coastline is full of islands as I saw from the plane and confirmed on google earth. Suomenlimma is a Unesco listed sea fort built on a few islands a short 15 minutes from Helsinki. Building commenced in 1748 when Finland was part of Sweden. Since then its seen a few wars like the 1788 Russo-Swedish war, 1808 Finnish War, 1855 Crimean war, 1918 Finnish Civil war and finally WWII. In 1973 the Finnish military vacated the island and in 1991 it was added to Unesco’s world heritages sites.
The islands are not huge, but there was plenty to see, the fort sits on the south tip of the southern island and there are bridges linking the islands. The place was devoid of people but as I headed back, I notice the tourists had woken up and started to descent on the island. It would be lovely here for a picnic in the Finnish summer.
Now I feel a bit sweaty, I need a shower and still have a 4hr flight to Iceland, which due to the 3 hr time difference means I arrive an hour later. I’m surprised I’m not asleep yet, I had the worst night on the plane last night. I don’t think we pick the car up til 10am, I’m sure Claire will fill me in on the details when I get to Iceland, after she has had a day at the Blue Lagoon spa!