With my brief exploration of Helsinki the night before thanks to my Couchsurfing hosts I was looking forward to finding my own way around the city. In the evening I had planned to meet up with my hosts again to take the ferry to the Soumenlinna fortress before crashing at their house that night.
Departing the hostel I dumped my gear at my hosts place before wandering off into town to see what there was to see in Helsinki. It just so happens that my day of exploring coincided with all museum’s in town being free to enter (bonus right). I stopped off at the Post Museum first which isn’t something you would normally do, but since it was free why not see something different. It wasn’t very big but was a good look at how the mail used to get delivered in this part of the world. I for one did not know they used to use Zeppelin’s to transport their mail.
Next place to visit, as it was around the corner was the Contempoary Art Museum. Learning quickly that this really isn’t my type of art, I high tailed it out of there. A much more interesting stop not far away however was the Helsinki Cathedral. It really is just as amazing on the inside as it is on the outside. Sitting on the great steps at its feet you can really just relax and get in some people watching time.
Having visted here I had to make my way over the the other great cathedral in town, the Uspensky Cathedral. This cathedral which is the largest orthodox church in Western Europe was just as amazing. Looking at both cathedrals from afar you really notice how much they dominate the skyline of Helsinki.
My last stop off point for the day after wandering the streets was the harbour in Helsinki. Here I stopped off for a feed of calamari, chips and other unknown fish that I figured I just had to try (most of it rather tasty too). The local markets that exist here didn’t really take my fancy but if your a market addict I’m sure there was something there for you.
It wasn’t until my couch surfing hosts finished work and met me at the harbour that my greatest experience for the day came. We ferried across to Soumenlinna, an island fortress constructed by the Swedish to help protect against the Russian expansion. Given the hot day heading out here as the sun was begining to fade really made for an awesome experience.
There is much to see out here as you wander around. From a submarine to a shipyard and a battalion of cannon’s all surrounded by endless fortifications. We did end up getting there a little late to explore inside the buildings but none the less with a view out across the sea and the sun setting I didn’t care.
Eventually making our way back to town and home I was happy to be able to stop and put my feet up. My hosts had a bed setup in the lounge area that was more than comfortable and we relaxed with a drink and a good old chat.
Going to bed near midnight it was creepy to still have the sun not finally set. I knew it was late but with the sun still on the horizon I just couldn’t come to terms with it being so late. Still tomorrow I would be off to Estonia and given what I had heard about the place I was in for a good time.