When Does The Sun Set??

Helsinki Travel Blog

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Helsinki Finland: 6/5/08

            Yesterday evening we boarded a boat headed for Finland (Silja Festival). It was a cruise ship more than a ferry. This was my first overnight adventure on a boat, furthest east (9 hour time difference from SLC) and north I have ever been as well. Right now we are inline with Juneau Alaska , and we are not too far from the North Pole. The boat ride over was very nice; there was not many people on that big boat. We had a nice cabin that could sleep four easily. We spent the first few hours up on the top deck watching all the scenery and the beautiful sunset. There were several hundred seagulls that followed the boat out for quite sometime gliding behind the boat waiting for some fish to be churned up. From time to time one or two would glide right up next to the deck within arms reach. Passing through some of the several thousand islands that are off the coast of Stockholm there are hundreds of houses and little communities. We stood up on the sun deck at the same level with the bridge. I snapped off a few pictures of the setting sun and just stood there enjoying the nice weather and beautiful sunset. Since Finland is one hour ahead of Sweden the time quickly passed and it was almost midnight and the sun was still setting. We retired to our quarters to call it a night since we had to wake up bright and early at 06:00 . I turned on my mp3 player to my sleep music and drifted off aboard the Silja Festival.

            We docked at Turku Finland just a little after 07:00 . Disembarking we discovered that the train we wanted was not at the train station at the docks but at the main Turku station. After talking to a few people and the bus driver we got to the main station and made the earlier train that would take us to Helsinki . Arriving at the central station in Helsinki we figured out which tram to take to get to our hostel. I got out the GPS again to help lead us to the doorstep. Riding on the crowded tram a girl asked me in Finnish about all my patches on my pack. She quickly found out I understood not a single word she just said. She spoke excellent English and we had a nice chat about my trip and the US . Her father is sending his Harley over to the States to ride from the East Coast to the West Coast. I told her how Colin and I want to send BMW bikes over to Europe and ride all over some day. We both laughed about how her father wants to do the American thing and Colin and I want to do the European thing; the common bond being the motorcycle.

Every time I tell people that I am from Salt Lake City , Utah I usually need to tell them it’s not too far from Las Vegas ; 95% of the people I meet have no idea where SLC is. Some might know it’s out West somewhere, but just about everyone knows or has a general idea where Vegas is. I was chatting away when Dave jumped up and signaled that this was our stop. Glad Dave was paying attention; I would have ended up talking well past our stop.

            We are staying in a International Youth Hostel here in Helsinki . From the looks of it I would say it is nice, but the bed mattresses leave a lot to be desired. We are only here for one night so we should survive. I wish I had my camping air mattress that I dragged around Europe for two months in ’05 and NEVER used. I would be putting it to good use tonight!

            After getting all checked in we hoped on a tram that would take us in a large circle around the city. This gave me a good look at the city of Helsinki . It was lunch time and we gambled on a place that served Mexican food. I wanted a burrito but knew it would be a far cry from anything found in the Western US . I was right, but it still tasted very good. We then jumped on to another boat (I have been on more boats in the last 5 days than I have in more than half my life) and headed out to Sea Fortress Suomenlima out on the Baltic Sea . It is a good sized island just outside the Helsinki port. Construction on the sea fortress began in the 1700’s when Finland was part of the Kindom of Sweden. The people of those times generally referred to it as the ‘ Gibraltar of the North’. The Russians surrounded it in 1808 and it was surrendered, after which Finland became part of Russia until the October Revolution in 1917.

After the boat ride back we walked over to the Senate Square & Cathedral. There were about one hundred people scrubbing the steps up to the Cathedral. It looked like just a bunch of volunteers, not an organized workforce. I walked up and looked inside the Cathedral. After all that walking it was time to kick the feet up and relax a bit. So we are back at the hostel doing that. I plan to head back out at night to get some night pics of the Cathedral.

            Well I scraped the idea of shooting any pics at night. By 01:00 it was still a little light out so the shots would not have been as good as I wanted. Tomorrow we are flying to Oslo Norway where we will be staying for two nights.


Hyvää yötä  from Helsinki .

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photo by: portia