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Kel&Cez’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 31 Jan 2006

Location: Helsinki, Finland

MapG'Day to the masses who I'm sure are eagerly anticipating each new journal entry. This time it is 'terve' from Helsinki, Finland.

To get to Helsinki, we jumped on a train from St Petersburg. After a total of about an hour and a half spent at three different customs points (army guys packing heat), we finally crossed the Russia/Finland border. We arrived at about 10pm and were starving and as the Finns eat quite early, most places were closed. I'm almost embarrassed to say we settled for the trusty golden arches for dinner. It was actually a god-send as it was quick, easy, we knew what the quality was going to be like and it had every traveller's favourite, free toilets! Our hotel (Scandic Marski) was in a fantastic location, had a reasonable price and the service was second to none. It is most definitely worth staying there if you ever visit Helsinki.

Whilst in Helsinki, each day greeted us with clear skies and -1 to +1 temperatures. As usual, we did a city tour which was a great way to the see the place. Sights (and stops) included the Senate and Market Squares, a beautiful park opposite the sea, monument to Sibelius (composed 'Finlandia'), a church built within a rock-hill, the Olympic Stadium built for the 1952 Summer Games, Parliament House and the Kiasma Modern Art Gallery.

Due to the first day being such a clear one, we took the 20 minute ferry to Suomenlinna which is a Sea Fortress built by the Swedes on a number of islands sometime in the 1800s (when Finland was a part of Sweden). It is gorgeous and we enjoyed it so much we spent the whole afternoon there and watched the sun set over the water - beautiful! The next day was spent just wandering throughout Helsinki before heading out for a fantastic meal and then meeting Rob and Alex (from our Russian tour) for a few drinks at an 'ice bar'. As we were just about to head much further north, we thought this we be a good taste of what was to come!

Next stop - Rovaniemi, Santa Claus and the Arctic Circle (Brrrr)!

Love you all,
Carey (and Kelly) xoxo