Not Finished With Finland

Helsinki Travel Blog

 › entry 40 of 94 › view all entries
Leaving Tallinn for Helsinki on the 'ferry'

Hmmm, so I am now stuck in Helsinki (Finland) for 6.5 hours when I should be in Estonia.  Why is it that all the best-laid plans never turn out as we hoped?

You may ask Finland?  What am I doing in Finland?  Was that even on my agenda?  How did I get in Finland? What possessed Jacq and I to travel on a ferry for 3.5 hours there, spend 1.5 hours in Helsinki running around and then return on a ferry back to Tallinn?  Well there are several reasons – the first being told that it was a crazy idea.

I like the idea of an adventure, and Tallinn – Helsinki seemed like a good one.  We were going to get on the early ferry, spend a day walking around (at leisure) seeing the sights, and then return back to Tallinn.

The karaoke bar which I did my best to sing along with the locals
  Simple, couldn’t fault the plan except we hadn’t counted on a small named, but one of the most popular bands to be playing a concert in Helsinki on the day we were wanting to travel over.  U2’s concert meant that the earlier ferry was completely sold out and the later ferry, which still had availability, departed at 1.30pm.  Still by our calculations, we would have a total of 2.5 hours to see some of Helsinki before catching the 6.30pm departure.  The woman at Tallink in Estonia even gave us our return ticket so we wouldn’t need to check-in and we could (to quote her) “turn up at 6.30 for departure.”  Terrific.

After purchasing our tickets (528 eek or €33.75 return), we headed back into the old part of Tallinn for lunch before boarding our ferry.

Welcome to Finland!

Lunch was good, sitting in the Town Square watching the people, and then after a brisk walk to the ferry (20 minutes from town), we boarded the ‘ferry’.  I say ‘ferry’ because really it wasn’t.  It was a cruise liner.  There were sleeping quarters, buffet restaurants, a casino, a supermarket, numerous bars and a karaoke room.  This is where we ended up positioning ourselves and we befriended some Finnish firemen who went over to Estonia for the evening to stock up on alcohol because there is no tax in Estonia, and you can bring into Finland as much as you can carry.  I had wondered why I saw so much people pushing trolleys around the ferry terminal with alcohol, but this now explained it. 

On the ferry ride over to Helsinki we drunk mojitos, jagermeister provided by the firemen, and were entertained by the karaoke - we whiled away our time happily.

Downtown Helsinki
  The ship docked and we got off the boat and made a break for the city centre taking photos along the way. 

The walk to the centre was an easy 25 minutes and after walking around, we decided we would celebrate our good fortune of making it to Finland with a drink of vino.  Perhaps this wasn’t the best decision to have made because afterwards we ended up shopping in the large department store ‘Stockmann’ and we both purchased a pillow with “I Love Finland” on it and then realising the time, ran to the boat.

We had just made it to near the entrance of the ferry terminal when I noticed that the place where they car drives up onto the boat was being raised.  We still continued running (well I use the royal we there - I ran as best as I could but after several drinks that day, a backpack on my back and sandals, I wasn’t really in running mode), until we got to the check in door.

Drinking some Italian vino relaxing before our boat
  We swiped our tickets, tried the doors, but the glass doors going out the ferry were locked.  Jumping up and down we tried to get the attention of the crew who were still allowing passengers onboard while one of the Finnish Tallink staff went to check if we could board.

The glass doors heading out to the boat were still locked, the man was still asking if we could board, I was still jumping up and down, Jacq was banging on the window, all the while people boarded.  Eventually the crew moved back, lifted the ramp off the platform and closed the door to the boat.  I still was jumping up and down shouting through glass.  They hadn’t heard us. 

The man from Tallink finally came back to us to tell us that we were too late.

Ville - the ever so helpful booking agent. Jacq and I are very grateful!!
  Too late?  No kidding the boat had started moving.  Too late?  We turned up at 1830 like we were told it was ok to do by the girl in Estonia because she had given us our ticket already.  Too late?  We had to get back to Tallinn because at 9am the following day were heading down to Riga on a bus.  Too late?  Oh my goodness!  What did this mean for us?  Panic, and then laughter ensued.  It is strange when you get the giggles, and this was one moment where I couldn’t stop laughing and that just made me laugh more.  I was in Finland.  I had wanted to see Helsinki, and only had a couple of hours, but clearly Finland was not finished with us. 

Realising we should try and get something sorted we spoke to an agent at the Tallink Desk, Ville was his name and he was very helpful, sympathic and arranged for us to be rebooked onto the later ferry for a price.

Sitting in the hotel lobby after our encounter ....
  “Yes, fine, ok.”  But wait wasn’t there an earlier ferry than was written on the board?  Didn’t a boat leave at 10pm?  Well, as luck would have it, normally the answer is yes but because U2 was playing (really starting to dislike this band), the ferry schedule had changed and it didn’t depart until 1am.  Hmmm, this was super news.  This means that we would get into Tallinn at 3am (fast ferry), and then back to the hotel by about 4am. 

Jacq and I left the terminal with our upgraded and amended ticket, and clear instructions by Ville to return at least 20 minutes prior to departure – we said we’ll be back 40 minutes prior and walked to the Radisson Seaside hotel, hoping to make use of the free wifi I had seen advertised on the way in, and take shelter from the rain (it just keeps getting better), that had started up outside.

On the ferry back listening to U2 blaring from the bar

It was here that a strange man (and this is being kind) came up and asked us all sorts of questions.  “Did you want to come out for dinner with me and my friends?”  “I have internet in my room you can use.”  “Have you ever slept with a Finnish man?” and finally when that wasn’t awkward enough and when we were ignoring him, he blurted out “Do you want to come up to my room and have sex?”

Clearly our ignoring him wasn’t working and then he proceeded to bore us with his theory of how the world will join together in 2012 and we will be able to use our minds to move objects.  Yes, can you see now why I said he was strange?

Why is it that as a woman traveler you don’t want to offend people by telling them to sod off?  This man has come down and sat opposite us in the hotel reception area so we were safe, but we didn’t want to be rude to him and yet he could talk to use like we were prostitutes?  After he left (and after a loud sigh of relief), we hid in the hotel’s business centre which was by reception until finally leaving to head back to the terminal.  We had wanted to venture out more, but the fear of missing the boat proved too strong and the fact we didn’t know where the strange man got to, meant we didn’t want to go anywhere else.

So, I’ve finally boarding the boat and found a comfortable place to hunker down for some sleep only to find out that the bar (ok not the best place for sleep but it had seats), has been filled with revelers who had gone to the concert and the DJ is blasting U2 songs all the way back.  I have now upgraded my feelings towards U2 to a strong dislike but at least we are ‘all aboard’.

Hei Hei to Finland.

Saskia007 says:
I love UB40 :)
I think it's important to go with the flow - but you're right non flow works much better here. The only problem doing that is sometimes people assume you're a prostitute which is a shame really especially as it's obviously the clothes I am wearing that leads to this conclusion but seeing as I've only really got these clothes with me for the entire time it's a bit of a worry :)
Posted on: Dec 12, 2010
vances says:
A story to salvage your feelings about U2. My brother-in-law got me a "UB40" CD as a gift for my 40th birthday. When it was his turn (several years later), I returned the favor by buying him a "U2" disc. They are good for something...

Admire how you go with the flow (or in the case of your missed ferry, the "non-flow"???) during your adventures!

Posted on: Dec 12, 2010
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Leaving Tallinn for Helsinki on th…
Leaving Tallinn for Helsinki on t…
The karaoke bar which I did my bes…
The karaoke bar which I did my be…
Welcome to Finland!
Welcome to Finland!
Downtown Helsinki
Downtown Helsinki
Drinking some Italian vino relaxin…
Drinking some Italian vino relaxi…
Ville - the ever so helpful bookin…
Ville - the ever so helpful booki…
Sitting in the hotel lobby after o…
Sitting in the hotel lobby after …
On the ferry back listening to U2 …
On the ferry back listening to U2…
photo by: portia