Helsinki: an epic start, but a rushed ending
Helsinki Travel Blog› entry 8 of 9 › view all entries
Helsinki! Finally! Helsinki is something I am looking forward to. Me and a friend of mine who has visited Helsinki before have this thing going on. He didn’t like Helsinki at all and he tries to make me understand that Helsinki is a boring place to visit, but I am not listening. I am psyched up to see it, if only to put my foot on Finlandic soil. I am a big fan of Finlandic metal music and a visit to Helsinki will have some spiritual value for me. Ever since a visit to Stockholm a few years back I got addicted to travel and back then it was already clear to me that I had to see Helsinki as well. It has become a symbol of visiting new places.
It is only 1.5 hours by boat from Estonia to Finland, so that makes for an excellent day trip.
After a thorough study of my guidebook I realized that the main attractions of Helsinki were a bit limited in number. The rain and storms, seemingly summoned for my epic entrance, disappeared, and I took this pause in the weather to explore the city.
First up: the Orthodox Uspensky Cathedral overlooking the harbour. This Russian church is once again very different in appearance from the Orthodox churches that I saw in Riga and Tallinn. The Uspensky Cathedral is built on a hill, and has a robust, red-brick exterior with not as many curves and swollen domes as the others had. It attracts a lot of Russian visitors to Helsinki and is lavishly decorated inside.
Quite in contrast to Helsinki’s other famous religious monument: the Lutherian church on the Senate’s Square. This church is more elegantly looking with slender domed towers and with its white exterior and its long flight of stairs at the front. There are little stars drawn on the domes. The interior is also the opposite of the Orthodox cathedral.
That sort of sums it up to be honest… Helsinki has a lot of shopping streets with well-known brands. It also has progressive rock and metal music in its McDonalds. Helsinki also has a train station in Art Nouveau style, with statues outside will balls in their arms that, I guess, will light up at night. I still had several hours to wander around before the boat took me back, so I chose to see a third sight a bit outside the city center and I took my time to walk to it. This is Temppeliaukio, basically a church inside a blownup piece of rock.
As I approached the park where this rock-church was located, I saw its hump of rock sticking out of the ground. There was a path going up, so I thought that was the entrance to the church, but when I got to the top I was actually standing on top of the church! At the other side of the rock I noticed that I was standing over the entrance, so I climbed down at the side.
After I took some time to sit and rest inside the church, I walked back to the center. And while I was walking, I recieved this text message from the ferry company:
Linda Line departure Hel-Tal at 19 is cancelled due to bad weather. Please contact the ticket office.
And then my battery went out. It was 16.30 and I knew that there would be one other boat leaving for Tallinn, at 17.00, so I ran back to the harbour! On my way I jumped into a souvenir shop to buy a miniature Uspensky cathedral and then rushed to the ticket office.
So that sums up my day in Helsinki. It is true: there are more exciting cities in the world, and there is not a lot to see. But I take Helsinki at face value. It makes for a very nice day trip. For me, it was an obligatory destination, but I am glad that I decided to make Tallinn my base of operations, since it is cheaper and more beautiful. Helsinki is a nice place to check off; to have been. For the real Finland experience I guess one should venture out into nature, and travel north, but I will leave that for another trip. For now: back to Estonia.
And when I had my dinner in Tallinn, the waiter asked me if I would like to see their show. I didn't know what to expect, but I followed him, and in the main hall of the restaurant a few waiters gave a show where they played gentleman who duelled with swords over a girl. It was fun!