Well this time it was off to Helsinki to play Australian football for Finland against England.
Unfortunately, the Aussie Footy league here in Europe isn’t always well organized and at the last minute the English decided they couldn’t come. Nevertheless, I still went and had planned a week off after the game to do as I pleased.
Getting into Helsinki I was immediately struck with how crisp, open, fresh and alive everything felt. Finland isn’t a very populated place and I suppose, as an Australian, the open spaces and lack of traffic is something that really appeals to me. It felt great!
I made it to my hotel and was soon off and out into the bars of Helsinki.
They’ve recently passed non-smoking laws inside pubs and clubs so it means that nearly everyone is outside smoking. I like the outdoors, but more so for the fresh air. I love Europe, and it has so much to offer, but unfortunately, Europeans like to smoke way too much. Natural selection should take its course sooner or later anyway I hope!
my brunch! yummy!!
The bars were quite a weird mix and there was plenty of Somalian refugees running around causing problems for everyone. It’s so disappointing to see. I sat there watching several extremely drunk guys continually harass different women and then start to pick fights.
The finish guys were very friendly and I also found that every time I went to the bar to get a drink I met an Aussie. By the end of the night there were 5 of us!
I woke up early on Saturday and walked most of the streets of Helsinki.
Thanks to an extremely knowledgeable Helsinki Travbuddy I was in possession of a comprehensive list of things to do for the day. I walked through several shopping malls (all along the street Aleksanterin and Kamppi), down to the jetty area where the markets (Kauppatori) are, saw the Cathedral (Tuomiokirkko) and a couple parks (Esplanaadi). I also had a delicious brunch of friend salmon and sardines. It was awesome!
Helsinki is a thoroughly delightful, modern, uncrowded and very clean city. It’s such a pleasant change to be surrounded by happy, polite, intelligent, friendly people who speak great English and are proud of their nation. I love it!
That night we hit the town again after a scratch match of football between the finish team.
It was a good night and the Finns sure do know how to drink.
Sunday was another delightful day and the captain of the football team picked me up in the morning to take me to Porvoo.
It’s a quant little riverside town in the north that has some gorgeous architecture and is quite a picturesque setting. We ambled around the town and had a lazy lunch and a coffee or two.
The white cathedral
Then it was off for a hike through the forest which I enjoyed immensely. People were everywhere hiking and enjoying the day. The whole country seemed abuzz with positive happiness!
In the evening we grabbed some sausages and beers and headed out to a lake in the forest where we cooked up a grill and ate while we watched the sunset.
Monday I spent the day again walking the streets of Helsinki, up into a delightful hilltop park overlooking the Baltic and then down onto a ferry and out to Suommenlena Island.
This is a actually a series of connected small islands that were once a fortress outpost for the city. It was a fantastic day and a very beautiful location. The water was a little algae filled but I still swam and I even got sunburnt!
All in all, I was totally smitten by Helsinki and its people. I’ll be getting back there as soon as I can.