The overnight train arrived back in Helsinki early on Sunday morning after a long week up north in Lapland. There wouldn’t be any time to rest, however, as this was the start of a week of fun in northern Europe. I left the train station for a hotel a few blocks away to meet my friend Steve, who had agreed become my travel buddy for the rest of the week. I had last seen Steve 4 years ago, but after only a couple hours together it quickly felt like we had seen each other a week ago.
Our first destination was the island fortress of Suomenlinna, off the coast of Helsinki. Originally built in the 18th century as defense against the Russian military, the fortress has evolved quite a bit over the years. The island is now a living community and historical monument to the relatively short history (by European standards) of Helsinki. Many locals visit the island in the summertime to have a picnic and enjoy the water.
After dinner in Helsinki and with the help of some friends from ISR school we happened to run into that night in the city, we made a last minute decision to explore outside of Finland. We hopped on a ferry the next morning and made the 2.5 hour trip across the Gulf of Finland to Tallinn, Estonia.
Visiting Tallinn was absolutely the correct decision. Tallinn is one of the oldest capitals in all of Europe and their Old Town is a beautiful, well-preserved medieval city. We only had about 3 hours (enough to check it off the list of countries I’ve visited!) but we could easily have spent a couple days there. We hustled through a quick loop of the city in the drizzling rain to catch a glimpse of as much as we could, but there wasn’t even enough time to sit and enjoy a meal in one of the charming little squares. Before we knew it we had to board the ferry and head back to Finland.
The next morning we had plenty of time left in Helsinki to finish exploring the city. The city is very clean and quite modern, and is also extremely walkable. A few cathedrals and one more taste of Finnish cuisine (e.g. salmon, reindeer, moose, etc.) at the seaside market square wrapped up our first couple of days.
That afternoon we caught a very short flight to Stockholm for the remainder of the trip. I’ll save the rest of our journey for another post.
It felt like I was overdue for a new adventure, so here I go again. I have the opportunity for some “on site” training at a scientific radar facility. The perk of the training? It’s in Finland!
After an easy red eye out of Boston and a quick connection in Amsterdam, I arrived in Helsinki, the capital of Finland. I had half a day to wander about before meeting the school group that night, so I explored the city a little bit. I have a couple days planned to really enjoy Helsinki after the week of work is over, so I’ll wait to go into detail when I have better photos to share.
Our school is way up north in Sodankylä, Finland, just north of the arctic circle. Not surprisingly, there is no easy way to get there. The next step of the journey was a 12 hour overnight train ride to Rovaniemi, Finland. When the train arrives in Rovaniemi, we have another 2 hours on a bus to the facility in Sodankylä. I’ll share more details about what I’m up to for work throughout the week, so stay tuned.
Hey if it were easy, then it wouldn’t be an adventure, right? To the north!!!