Waking up to my bunk mates moving around and preparing to disembark the ship was defiantly not welcome after my late night of drinking. To make things worse it was about 6:30AM and I still had to find my hostel before I could begin to relax.
Jumping ship and heading off to the tram that would deliver me in the vicinity of my hostel I was surprisingly joyful. My decision to come to Helsinki was based more around the fact I’d never heard much about it. Everybody talks about Amsterdam, Berlin and Rome but Helsinki… what’s there?. In a way I was starting to feel like I was leaving the beaten path so to speak of the usual backpacker circuit and venturing off into less well known terrain.
Obviously that’s not really true but to me it was the first stop that I didn’t know what to expect. One though I should have expected was the usual Chris gets lost finding his hostel routine. Getting off the tram a couple of stops too early I wandered in the already warm sun to the Olympic Stadium where my hostel was located.
From the stadium I found the sign that said hostel this way and off I went. Walking and walking before I worked out I was getting further from the stadium than I was closer to it. Backtracking I tried again but with nobody around to ask, the task was becoming overwhelmingly annoying as the sweat dripped from my face.
Eventually using my brain and some expensive internet data time on my iPhone (saved me again my precious) I found the hostel around the back of the Olympic Stadium.
Dumping my gear I enjoyed an awesomely hot shower before catching a couple of hours kip in an effort to catch up on missed sleep from the ferry over. Had it not been so warm I’m sure I could have slept there all day.
Waking to the sun beating in through the window and my stomach groaning for food I set off to explore Helsinki for the first time. Another first for me in Helsinki was that I was to have my first Couchsurfing experience here as well. You see when booking last minute accommodation like I have done all trip, I found Helsinki could only accommodate me for one night and I really wanted 2 days or more to explore.
I reached out to a couple of hosts and crafted my requests as best as I could. Ensuring to make each request different and personal to each host as nobody likes a generic send to all message. I got answers back but due to my short notice they were all full up. Almost resigned to having one night in Helsinki I got another answer back handing me not only a second night in town but also my first ever Couch surfing night.
First impressions from walking around Helsinki weren’t mind blowing. Sure I’d just strolled past a great lake and parks, spied the Opera house and a few other bits and pieces but I just got the feeling it was just another big city.
It wasn’t until I met my Couchsurfing hosts that things started to pickup. Meeting up I grabbed a drink with Jonas while we waited for his gf, Titiu to arrive. Here we had a chat before making out way back to their house where I was treated to yet another great meal (seems I only eat well when other people cook for me).
With all the food demolished it was time to make the most of the sun (since it doesn’t set till midnight this time of year). Grabbing some cider from the local store I met up with some of my hosts friends in a local park and enjoyed the evening. With this much sunlight I can see why there are so many parks around Helsinki. I’d want to make the most of it given during the winter months there is very little of it around.
After the cider was demolished we finished the evening with a walk along the coast. It has to be said even on the edge of the city this part of the world is pretty beautiful. When we had got enough of the shoreline we headed inland to check out the harbour and the Helsinki Cathedral, before making our way back to the plaza that I had first met my hosts at. Here we departed ways as I made for my hostel, tomorrow I would explore and then meet up with my hosts to see Soumenlinna and spend the night with them.