This morning was a struggle to get up! So tired. But time to have a look around Helsinki. So far we’ve pretty much only seen it in the dark.
We’re staying pretty centrally, so it was just a short walk to get to the ‘sights’, not that there are many! As we reached the old centre of the city, the buildings turned from ugly concrete blocks, to more pretty old stone buildings.
Past a couple of parks and we reached another harbour, by a large square – the Kauppatori. There was a Sunday market set up here, all very expensive! There were a few fruit and vegetable stalls, all selling the same; cherries, strawberries, blueberries and green beans. Random selection. And all from Spain. Disappointing!
But there was a cute jam lady. She was from northern Finland and was selling homemade jams make with traditional Finnish berries. Lingonberries, cloudberries, sea buckthorn berries, blueberries and one I had never heard of before – crowberries. She was really nice and gave us little samples of them all, telling us stories of going out berry picking! I did buy some jam, because it was rather unusual!
We followed the harbour around and ended up on an island (Katajanokka Island), which doesn’t feel any different from the main land! Here, up on a bit of a hill was a red-brick cathedral, called Uspenski. This is another Russian Orthodox church, built in 1868 and has the classic onion-topped domes. Despite there being a service on, you could stand at the side and watch. Along with a bus load of Korean tourists who were being really noisy. It felt so rude.
So we quickly left and headed back down the hill. We went past the Presidential Palace. Apparently this is normally guarded by uniformed sentries, perhaps they don’t work on a Sunday..! Then we ended up at the Senate square, with Helsinki’s most famous sight, the Tuomiokirkko. This is another cathedral, a neoclassical Lutheran cathedral. It was set above the square, with a long flight of steps up the front. And bright white. It was pretty cool, but again being Sunday, could not go inside.
The square in front of the cathedral was crazy. Totally full of tour buses! We wandered around the shopping streets, but as it was Sunday, most of the shops were shut.
I left my friend at the train station at 12pm, she has an earlier flight that me, back to Dublin. I still have a few hours until I need to leave. But not much else to see, it’s too cold to sit outside, so I walked a couple of kilometres across to the only vegan cafe which seems to be open today.
It was awesome. Everywhere here is ‘cool’, perfectly designed interior and pretty food. This one was half florist, half cafe. I had a matcha latte and a slice of raw matcha cake – so good!
And sat for a while, watching the trams go by. But then time to walk the couple of kilometres back to the train station.
The train to the airport is relatively cheap EUR5.50. Normally countries seem to massively up the price of public transport to the airport. But this is pretty reasonable. And only half an hour. The airport was big. Busy. But very modern and I managed to find a quiet spot – with a plug! Because of course I was really early. My flight was at 5.20pm, and we left on time, for the 3 hour journey back to London.