Another late night arrival… to Helsinki.. and another AirBnB with the lovely Siiri as host who graciously came out to meet us and bring the keys at almost midnight. The biggest challenge was getting the kids settled as the time change had added another hour to the mix and after our short time in Oslo I had not had time to do grocery shopping to get milk for Kaelee (who still likes her lactose free milk at bedtime and first thing in the morning)… so once I had everyone settled and locked in, off I went to find the closest 24 hour grocery store along with my phone to translate. A bit further of a walk than I anticipated, but finally found it. I also picked up some fruit and my fave quick snack of tomatoes and avocado… and learned that in the grocery stores in Finland, you must weigh your fruits and veggies and a little sticker prints out that has the price and barcode. (This is something you do while you’re still in the fruits & veggies shopping area… not after you get in line and are ready to pay!) Thankful no one in line got too annoyed when I had to do this after all my items were with the cashier. After my shopping I thankfully saw a line of taxis just across the street for a quick return to the AirBnB.
Once we got up and moving on Monday we were able to walk to the harbour area… it was about a 40 minute walk by the time we made it there, although I think it could have been 20ish minutes if my google map and data had been a bit more cooperative. (A problem throughout our time in Helsinki!)There was a large market area similar to the market area in my hometown of Ottawa with many fresh fruit, veggie vendors and several food tents.
https://theculturetrip.com/europe/finland/articles/an-essential-guide-to-helsinkis-market-square/ Alex got adventurous with moose sausage, Tim & Kaelee chose fresh blueberries and I also found a gorgeous platter of fresh salmon and veggies. We took our lunch onto the ferry for the ride to Suomenlinna https://www.suomenlinna.fi/en/ … an inhabited sea fortress built on six islands.
It is a UNESCO World Heritage site … the Swedish crown commenced the construction of the fortress in 1748 as protection against Russian expansionism. The kids enjoyed climbing and exploring and even finding a small playground!
It was interesting watching the kids trying to communicate with the children already on the playground…. without speaking their language. And my incredibly friendly children were challenged by the local children who were less inclined to make new friends.
For our 2nd day in Helsinki the kids had discovered a pool area that was near the harbour. I had also discovered we had way too much stuff on our travels and decided I needed to downsize a bit. I managed to reduce our baggage by 9.6 kg that was shipped back to Canada. (Thanks again to my smartphone search that found the “Posti”.) But we kept the carryon piece that was now empty because shipping it as well would have taken us over 10 kg and added significantly to the shipping cost. Kaelee discovered the empty bag made a perfect ride for her!
Since my phone data was still not cooperating for the map feature, we took a cab directly to the Allas Sea Pool. https://www.allasseapool.fi/en/ A collection of 3 pools… one with sea water at approx. 14 c… and the other two warmed to approx. 28 c…. the kids tried all 3, but the middle one was not quite as warm due to it being a wading pool depth and thus not able to retain the heat as much as the deeper pool. What an amazing view to swim with the harbour as the backdrop.They also got to try a Finnish sauna (available in all the change rooms areas) and then we had a quick bite at the little cafe next to the pools. (Although I really wanted to go to a small shop just on the other side of the harbour that specialized in vodka and caviar… oh well, maybe next time! https://www.finlandiacaviar.fi/en/ ) We next walked over to the ferris wheel for a sky’s eye view of Helsinki before we jetted back to pick up our bags from the AirBnB and then made our way to the Viking Line Ferry for our overnight cruise to Sweden! (You can actually see our ship in the background of the picture of the kids on the Ferris wheel.)
As part of my travel preparation I made contact with all the many friends I’ve made through my life who now live around the globe. One of those dear friends was from my University days… you’ll meet her soon when I share part of my Sweden adventures, but she also connected me with a friend from her early years… a summer exchange student to my friend’s childhood home in Michigan all the way from Finland in the early 1980’s…. thanks to Jyrki for all the great information shared, especially helping me find the AirBnB we stayed in, suggestions for places to take the kids, and the excellent recommendation for the overnight cruise to Sweden. https://www.sales.vikingline.com/find-cruise-trip/cruise/stockholm-helsinki-vv/stockholm-helsinki-cruise/ The kids and I had a great cabin, buffet dinner and an easy crossing….to Stockholm, Sweden!