I can’t speak for the others, but I feel that I will need to return to Finland one day. With this particular trip having been so short, I don’t feel like I genuinely got a good sense of the country, let alone Helsinki.
We had plans to take a day trip to the medieval town of Porvoo…but that did not happen. We had another late night and with no pre-booked obligations, we seized the opportunity to sleep in a bit. At least five of us did…Trinh is much more mature than the rest of us, so she was up and out exploring Helsinki before we were even out of bed. That’s one of thing I love about this particular group of people – if somebody wants to do something different or needs a day to themselves, there is no judgment. Do you my friend!
With Trinh off doing very cultured things, I can only assume, the remaining five dragged our butts out of the hostel to find good coffee and sustenance. We more or less winged it around Helsinki – visited the waterfront and saw a beautiful tall ship docked in the ice, visited a stunning cathedral for some photo ops and even went around on the Helsinki Flyer a few times.
The highlight for me was our spontaneous visit to Suomolinna island. A short and inexpensive ferry ride from Helsinki, Suomolinna is worth it just to walk around the old houses, factories and mills. Characteristic old buildings with brightly coloured peeling paint, yards with stacks of logs and farm machinery, not to mention some good coffee shops, tourist info and a local micro brewery (who make delicious cider, in case you needed to know).
Not much daylight in Finland during the winter months, we boarded the ferry again for a nighttime cruise back to Helsinki. Naturally we goofed off and took a bunch of photos to pass the time.
Disembarking on the other side, we walked a short path closer to the city centre and stopped to photos with some holiday decorations – because why not?! And thank goodness we did, because who came strolling up to us, but the one and only Trinh!
Reunited once again, the IceFin Crew set off for a walk around the shops. We stopped for a drink and pub snacks at Hemingway’s, then I think we had shawarma after a failed attempt at Chinese buffet. Then for a drink somewhere else. Then somewhere else for another drink. And then to a couple other places for some more drinks and games and heart to hearts.
Most of the crew was headed back home the next morning. Sydney and Jayson with a very early that they miraculously did not miss. Rich and Tina a bit later in the morning, so the four of us remaining had a chance to enjoy one last breakfast together. Trinh and I had booked ourselves at a different hotel for one more night. So we made the short tram ride to Hotel Arthur and honestly…we fell asleep as soon as we got there. Waking up in time to find some supper and a Finnish treat, we enjoyed the extra time by catching up on some much needed rest and relaxation.