When we had some friends visiting who were interested in going to Tallinn, I remembered all the fun of last year’s overnight cruise to Helsinki and recalled that Tallinn as also an option. So after so creative booking, we had a mini Baltic adventure booked that would take us around three countries in a few days.
Taking the same boat as last time, we went overnight to Helsinki, enjoying a few drinks and some dancing/performances in the lounge before turning in, but since our boat to Tallinn would be leaving from a different terminal our first stop upon arrival was to the Central Railway Station to put our bags in some lockers. We had packed light, but that didn’t mean we wanted to haul everything around all day. And the lockers there are more than enough room for four people to stow their luggage, so it as a good deal at 6 Euros total.
Our first detour took us to Starbucks for some much needed coffee (for all the good the pastries were on the boat, the coffee was so bad I actually started crying…) and then to the square in front of Helsinki Cathedral to take a free walking tour offered by Happy Guide Helsinki. It runs longer than most at about 2.5 hours but provides a thorough overview of Helsinki’s history, which is relatively recent compared to more of Europe, and ensured we got to see all different aspects of the city.
Starting at the Cathedral, you wander down the streets to various old buildings, seeing the remnants of war and Soviet occupation, learning a little of the history as Finland transferred between Swedish and Russian rule before obtaining freedom. We saw old streets where the creator of Moomin lived, passed by the Sugar Cube (a square white marble building), entered the Uspenskin Cathedral, ate at the Market Square, walked the Esplanadi Park, saw the Kamppi Chapel of Silence, and so much more! And it’s not too arduous a walk despite the length, which was nice. At the end of the tour our guide, Florian, directed us to the Church in the Rocks if we so chose, and we decided to stop by. All in all the tour was really nice and was a great way to really see Helsinki and learn about its culture an history in such a short amount of time. Given our limited hours there, it was well worth it and I would definitely recommend it!
Afterwards we made some detours to get some souvenirs, including a book of Finnish lore that supposedly inspired Tolkien (The Kalevala), gifts and postcards, and back to the market for a last look around. We were also sure to get some donuts from Arnold’s on the way to the Station to pick up our bags before walking to the terminal. All in all another great quick little visit to Finland. And looking back I could easily say that of the three boat lines offered by Silja Tallink that we took, the one between Stockholm and Helsinki easily has the most to offer in terms of dining and entertainment. You know, in case that makes a difference (and sometimes it does).