Saturday 14th September: Helsinki to Stockholm
Train Ticket: 2nd Class – 33 Euros, bought on the day at the station
Scheduled departure/arrival times: 17:02 to 19:12
Actual departure/arrival time: 17:02 to 19:12
Ferry ticket: 2 bed interior cabin – 49 euros, bought online a month in advance.
Scheduled departure/arrival times: 20:55 to 06:39
Actual departure/arrival time: 21:03 to ???
Upon arrival in Helsinki I was very happy to be back to an alphabet I understood and easily made my way to the hotel. I’d treated myself to a bit of luxury (by my standards) after a couple of rougher places in Russia.
It announced itself as a design hotel. The word design is important in Helsinki, it’s all over the city (and Stockholm too) and is obviously an important industry. Which results in a disproportionate amount of men with colourful chinos, not quite long enough to reach their shoes, sporting creative facial hair. Plus the words bespoke and boutique being used as often as possible, everywhere.
I had a lazy afternoon before exploring in the evening. It was a Friday and most pubs and restaurants seemed pretty busy. Before long I’d got chatting to a group of friendly Helsinki’s, who took me along to a few bars around the city. A fun night, they drunk fast and liked a fisherman friend flavoured vodka.
On Saturday, the train departed in the evening so I had day to look explore. After a lots of culture in Moscow, I wasn’t in the mood for museums or guide books. So just ambled about the city that is pretty compact and obviously a prosperous place. The cobbled streets filled with people shopping or drinking coffee. Coffee is big business in Finland, they drink the most coffee per person in the world.
Down at the harbour front, which was a busy market on Saturdays, I jumped on a tourist cruise for a couple of hours. It made its way round the islands which make up the city. The weather was beautiful, blue skies, sunshine and a little breeze to keep things cool.
Soon it was time for my train to Turku, where I was headed to catch the ferry to Sweden. First double-decker train of the trip.
It was a comfortable train with free wifi again, across southern Finland. There were good views of countryside with a scattering of red wooden farm houses.
The train station is right next to Viking Ferry terminal, where I waited for a little while as the crowds of people increased. The saturday night ferry is a booze cruise with most people booking a return to Turku to take advantage of excessive duty-free drinking for the night.
As we boarded, the sun was just disappearing for the day.
The ship was pretty much brand new and I was impressed by the little cabin I had. Big TV , a functional, clean bathroom with 2 comfy beds. Had a little picnic in my cabin for going for a look around. They boat has a vast duty free shopping level, plus nine bars or nightclubs and the atmosphere had picked up.
I was bought some more fisherman friend flavoured shots by some friendly Finn’s, one thing lead to another and I got back to my cabin very late. Before I knew it I was getting shouted at by a crew member that the boat was heading back to Turku very soon and I needed to get off the ship in Stockholm.