I love traveling by boat… surprisingly! I am actually fairly prone to seasickness; I even get woozy watching movies in 3D! However, I love going from place to place by boat. It feels more romantic somehow, and I have awesome memories of beginning my Backpacking Tour of Europe (that American college student rite of passage) by taking the ferry from Dover to Calais and then bringing our trip to a close going from Calais to Dover. We also took a vacation from our vacation with the ferry from Brindisi to Corfu. Kate and I have phenomenal memories of walking that hill in Corfu from our hostel to a little town nearby where we enjoyed the freshest feta I have ever had in my life.
In honor of my trip tonight from Finland to Estonia, I decided to do some training trips throughout the day. More accurately, I happened to be walking by two different boat trips right before they were leaving and decided to hop on! Sometimes the best trips happen through spontaneity.
Up and at ‘em!
I got up this morning for a little trip to the gym in my hotel. Normally, I like to run around cities to get to know them, but I felt like my walk last night allowed me to see a fair bit of the city. Plus, this was my last time to work out inside for awhile—swanky upgrades end now! After my workout, I was able to enjoy an important part of Finnish culture, the spa! I relaxed in the spa for a little while, carefully following the directions posted in the room, before making my way back to my Executive Suite. I took a last glance out the window, brushed my teeth with the little baby toothbrush they provided, noted the treats I had taken from the mini-bar (only the ones that came with the room, thanks) and went on my way.
I stopped at Robert’s Coffee for breakfast. Robert apparently was a member of a Finnish coffee roasting family who traveled to America, saw the Starbucks on every corner, and thought, “Hey, why not Finland?” Now in Finland, there is a Robert’s Coffee on every corner, and the company has just begun to open branches in Sweden. I guess that’s the Finnish dream! Become so successful that your company expands into the country that used to rule yours?
After a quick trip to Tourist Info to book my big ferry trip, I was on my first boat of the day. I grabbed the ferry over to Suomenlinna, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Suomenlinna was first known as Sveaborg, and it was built in 1748 when Finland was still a part of Sweden. In 1808, the Russians overtake the fortress (and the entire country!) and they command Suomenlinna until 1918 after both the Russian revolution and Finland’s declaration of independence from Russia. Today, Suomenlinna is a historical site and town with over 1,000 inhabitants and 700,000 visitors per year.
Everything in Finland is in two languages. Here, the top language is Finnish (which looks like nothing I have ever seen) and the second language is Swedish (which looks to me like a Germanic language). Obviously, a lot of signs are in English for lazy tourists who speak neither Swedish nor Finnish (not that I know anyone who fits that description!). Swedish is actually one of Finland’s official language; there is still a large minority of Finnish people who speak Swedish!
Notice that Suomenlinna is made up of a bunch of islands. Its unique architecture as a bastion fortress built in an irregular shape and on uneven terrain and on separate islands, as well as its role in the militaries of Sweden, Russia, and Finland helped it earn its World Heritage status. After spending some time in the museum, I hiked all over the island. It was cold. It’s about 50 degrees here, and when I left NJ it was over 90! This shock to the system didn’t prevent me from wandering!
The great thing about Europeans is that they are not as lawsuit happy as Americans, so you can trek all over the place without having to sign a waiver or being trapped behind fences. Occasionally they remind you of some safety issues.
Or its amazing Onion soup with Finnish flatbread?
I don’t think I spilled any soup on anyone’s postcard, but you’ll have to let me know!
After Ferry #1 made its way back to the dock, I hopped out and began to walk to the Old Town Market. However, I passed another ferry on the way. I had seen this one yesterday and was intrigued, and the assertion of the warmth inside the ferry won me over!
This ride was only OK. I probably should have researched a bit more, but occasionally I let my discomfort win out over my frugality. I did get the chance to talk to some interesting people from France and Australia, and as meeting new people is one of my fave aspects of traveling, I’ll call Ferry #2 a win!
I bundled up to get some outdoor pics!
We got back. I dashed through the Old Market. I dashed through the city (I feel like I know my way around now). I picked up my bags. I got on a very crowded bus. Now, I’m on the ferry to Tallin!!
Here’s my window seat!
See you in Tallin!!