Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Europe 2011: Wandering Jetlagged Around Helsinki

A cheap flight from Australia to the UK on Finnair with the alluring opportunity to check out some of the Nordic countries meant I recently spent a few days wandering around Helsinki.

Arriving at 6am after a long flight I jumped in a cab and headed to the YHA. I was way too early to check-in so had a quick shower dumped my bags and hit the town.

First thing I noticed was the unpronounceable words that were all around me.

I also came across this amazing mural which I was struggling to comprehend in my jetlagged haze.

I stumbled upon Helsinki harbour and took a seat at one of the market eateries. Sitting eating my sweet croissant I noticed the steely gaze of the local beanie model and a seagull that appeared to have dipped its head into some black paint.

I love coffee and find great delight in sampling the coffee in whatever random place I end up. The coffee in Helsinki was mostly of the drip filter variety, however, I did find an espresso machine and ordered a cappuccino. With trepidation I sat down and waited for my drink to arrive. Sadly, the coffee was not good, long-life milk, half filled in a ridiculously large beer glass.

After breaky I got back to wandering. Found some nice texture around some doors, some churches and a park with some nice flowers.

I went back to the harbour a took a ferry out to Suomenlinna, an inhabited sea fortress off the coast of Helsinki. I had a nice afternoon wandering around taking photos and watching the people.

It got really hot and when I came across this beach I was gutted that I didn’t have my board shorts for a swim.

The view coming back into the harbour was pretty cool. On the seawall was an old market building that had the most amazing salmon gravlax dishes, a local delicacy. I ate some on a rye bagel, it was delicious. I also came across some free outdoor music, a cool jazz band that was enthusiastically being listened to. The central station building was also pretty cool with its giant sculptures holding glowing orbs.

During my time in Helsinki, I noticed that most statues had a seagull perched atop their heads. Travelling alone I was going a bit crazy and started to imagine what the statues were thinking, “seriously, do you have to sit on my head?” type thing. This made me laugh which I guess would have freaked out anyone close by as it would have appeared that I was laughing to myself while staring at a statue. Anyway, check out the pic and imagine what they are thinking… see what I mean??

My time in Helsinki finished with a night out on the town. I came across a Spanish pub and went in for a beer. Throughout my time in Finland I had not come across any other Antipodeans. As I walked into the bar, I heard familiar accents. Seems I had run into an aussie and a kiwi both travelling alone. We hit the town for dinner and a few beers ending up in an ice bar which was being managed by another Australian. I guess we are everywhere.

Walking back to my room after a few beers at 1am I noticed that it hadn’t got completely dark, indeed, the sun was rising! I have lived in Canada and the UK but never experienced the long days of the north. People were still sitting in the parks and I even saw someone walking a dog! I got back and was up at 5am (ouch) to catch a flight to the uk.

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