Not-So Hellish Helsinki

Moi!
That means “Hi!” in Finnish, by the way.
Anyway I’m writing this on August 10 (HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!) which is our first day of classes after Helsinki. All in all, Helsinki was a very relaxing place, and I think most of the people on this voyage appreciated having the opportunity to calm down.
The first day Doshi and I had a Field Program which was not quite what we expected. We drove around on a bus for an hour, stopped at a site for fifteen minutes, and then drove around for another hour. This continued for a while but, when we got to our last stop – the Rock Church – we decided to leave the Field Program and walk back to the previous stop in order to meet Natalia and Claire.
The Rock Church was actually pretty cool. They literally built a church inside a giant rock formation. Even better, you’re allowed to climb up the outside of the church and walk around on top of it. There are trees growing on top of the church. Multiple. Trees. There’s a little mini-woodsy area. On top of a church. It’s pretty cool. On the roof there’s a second part to the roof supported by a rock wall. After I climbed up it I found out I wasn’t supposed to. In my defense, the signs saying “Do Not Climb” were on the other side of the roof. It’s not my fault I decided to walk clockwise instead of counter-clockwise!
Anyway, from there Doshi and I stopped briefly for a caffeine break and then walked back to a famous park with a monument made out of metal tubes in order to meet up with Claire and Natalia. I don’t remember the name of the park or the monument (I think it started with an S?) and I’m too lazy to look it up right now. Feel free to look it up yourself.
From there, we meandered along the coast for a bit before heading inland. We stopped at a few thrift stores and eventually got to the Olympic Stadium which we saw and took pictures of. Then we moved on. We made our way towards the center of the city.
For lunch, we stopped at a small restaurant called DaVinci’s Ristorante (so Finnish!) and had probably one of the best meals we’ve had on the trip. It helped that there was free water, bread and butter (the bread was AMAZING). We then talked to some local girls advertising a music festival about places to go and things to see, and Natalia won a t-shirt from them by correctly guessing Will.I.Am as the artist of a song they played.
We then headed to the tourist information center to look up information about camping and, after a couple of hours, booked a log cabin for six. Mind you this “camp site” was a 17-minute metro ride from the city, and we had a log cabin with a microwave, a refrigerator and air conditioning. We could also see the metro going by from the beach. But more about that later.
After that, we found the Academic Bookstore and well… it’s a book store, come on. I could have spent hours there. I could have lived there. Unfortunately at this time I could do neither. I also couldn’t buy and books because a) they were expensive and b) they didn’t have the specific books I was looking for.
Eventually, we made our way back towards the ship and we stumbled upon a liquor store (appropriately called “Alko”) and a used bookstore that had so many books in it, it was hard to walk between the shelves. I bought a used copy of the Ursula Le Guin’s Wizard of Earthsea trilogy for 6€.
Fun fact: Our ship was about 2km away from the center of town… so we definitely got our exercise. Especially when we got a bit turned around.
The next day Emma, Natalia, Doshi, Claire, Patrick and I left the boat after lunch to go to the log cabin. We stopped briefly at a couple of stores to get food and drinks for dinner and breakfast, then with somewhat heavier backpacks, we went to Rastila, the “campsite”.
The log cabin looked like something I once built with Lincoln Logs, back in the day. It was incredibly adorable and there was a loft with two beds for the boys to use and then two twin beds and a double on the bottom floor for the girls to sleep in. After dumping our stuff, we changed into our swim suits and went to the beach. To be honest, that beach was probably one of the best beach-experiences I’ve had. There was no wind, the weather was absolutely gorgeous, the water wasn’t too cold (though if that’s what it’s like in the summer I am never going there in the winter) and it was fairly peaceful. We also watched parents shotgun their children off of a pier into the bay. It was very nice
After a few hours, it was dinner time. On our way back to the cabin for dinner, we noticed that there was actually a dog show going on for some sort of fluffy white dogs. They looked like Alaskan Eskimo Dogs or miniature Samoyeds. They were absolutely adorable and we were tempted to steal them.
Dinner mostly consisted of popcorn, cup of noodles and the like, although if I remember correctly, Patrick, Claire and Natalia got frozen dinners. After food, we spent a bit of time on the nearby playground.
We’ve been on quite a few playgrounds since coming to Europe.
Anyone who tells you they’re just for kids is just plain wrong. They don’t want you to have fun.
We then went back to the cabin for, well, card games and drinking games. I think I’ll end there for that day. I’m not going into any more detail on my blog.
The next morning we woke up, checked out of the cabin, and then made our way back to the ship. We stayed on the ship and relaxed for the rest of the day.
Our last day in Helsinki Emma, Claire, Natalia and I walked along the waterfront towards Market Square. There’s an absolutely incredible food and crafts market there with pretty decent prices. I got some amazing mint ice cream, Natalia had a Reindeer hotdog, and we all got some pretty great souvenirs. I have a necklace made with reindeer antler! Also I got ankh earrings. Together, the two bits of jewelry came to 4€. Not too, bad, if I do say so myself.
From the Market Square we caught the ferry to Suomenlinna, an island fortress, and spent time wandering about there. We walked on top of the walls, walked under the walls, climbed out from the tunnels through windows, and played on yet another playground.
This playground was especially epic because there was a giant Eiffel Tower-like rope structure to climb, and things that spun when you stood on them. We were very happy adults.
After that, we walked back to the ship and thus ended our time in Helsinki. It was very relaxing and wonderful. And seriously if you need a vacation where you actually do very little but still do something and don’t feel rushed… go to Helsinki in the summer.
Moi moi! (That means Good Bye)
Austin, out.

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