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  • Day6

    This is Harald Milton. Harald from Helsinki, a good strong viking name and Milton was a family favourite. I asked for suggestions on social media and got some good suggestions but when he took me out to tea at his place, it had to be "Harald"
    We had a good day cruising around, even though he spent most of the day stuffed in a backpack. He enjoyed the toy museum on Suomenlinna island and sat on the rock while I dipped my feet in the Baltic sea.
    Looks as though he may have enjoyed his Harald beer a bit much though, his helmet slipped over his eyes. Was a good feast.
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  • Day8

    Due to the close ties of Finland and Sweden in the past they basically use both languages. I found the Swedish words to be helpful as Scandinavian words can be similar enough to English to work some things out, also I've been to Scandinavia a couple of times now.
    The Finnish language is totally different, you can usually tell if it's a Fin or Swedish word.
    When I first got here I heard people saying "kiitos" to each other and did a double take thinking "I know that word!". I am a fan of the Finnish band Nightwish and they often end their songs with "Kiitos!!!" So I felt at home 😊Read more

  • Day6

    Take a look at this spread! One thing I love about Europe is they know and do good bread - brown and seedy! But they don't seem to know about toast, probably don't need to with lovely fresh bread like that.
    They also cater for gluten free but I didn't bother with a picture of that.
    It's time to get back on the bike - the hips are widening again !

  • Day123

    Back due to popular demand (thanks Helen and Kevin for noticing its been a long while since a post..!). We have been a little busy over the last couple of weeks so I will try to catch up now.

    Since we last spoke, we first stopped off in Helsinki. The capital of baby Finland (which is only celebrating its one hundredth year this year). We met with our friend Hanna who you may remember avid readers from our post in Brno, Czech Republic. Hanna lives in Helsinki and although currently finishing her thesis for her masters, kindly met us to show us around. She also brought us some homemade blueberry pie which was delicious and shows you how lovely she is!

    We met at the central station and wandered the streets before entering into the beautiful Cathedral. It is a stunning white Lutheran Cathedral set at the top of some steep steps and the domes are green (my fave colour) with gold stars. The effect of the exterior is elegant and the inside is minimalistic - which I now understand is in typical lutheran style. We then headed to the harbour which sparkled on the sunny day (and I thought Finland was supposed to be cold..) and across to the market halls. Admiring the mounds of liquorice and reindeer jerky, we were quite hungry. Hanna took us to a place to have a buffet lunch (all you can eat it seems) which is standard for workers to eat at their lunch hour.

    After lunch we wandered further around the streets with Hanna acting as a free guide (Thanks Hanna :D ) and ended up having the possibly most expensive pint in a long time accompanied by some yummy cured reindeer. Hanna told us lots of interesting facts about Finland - bears, elks, knives, saunas and all. Some of these facts include:

    1. Street names etc are listed in both Finnish and Swedish because both are the official languages of Finland;
    2. If you hit a reindeer when driving it is the owners fault but if you hit an Elk you are dead;
    3. If you see a bear - walk away slowly...

    On the Wednesday was the much anticipated arrival of my BFFs!! Once we picked them up we switched apartments to one with its own sauna! BBQ and beers and a blooming good catch up, needless to say I was very happy!

    Nothing specific was on the agenda for Helsinki but our first full day was spent in Suomenlinna. It is an old fortress island 15 mins on a ferry from Helsinki Harbour. It has lots of old structures still in place and is a great place to picnic on another sunny day - and as it was Kate's birthday we of course had Prosecco!

    The second day we visited Allas Seapool - a public sauna and pools which is set in Helsinki harbour. Following some amazing pizza for lunch, we went to see more sights. The silent chapel - in which Kates mobile went off and we met the chattiest American child who amusingly tried to guess where we were from based on the language we were speaking... Finally we headed to the Rock Church - a church carved into the rock - and got in for free as their was a piano concert taking place!

    Next off to the wilderness...
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  • Day87

    City at the north end of the Gulf of Bothynia, the body of water between Finland and Sweden. The Market Patrolman statue stands outside the central market and has become a symbol for Oulu. The city spreads over several islands that make up the delta where the Oulujoki River empties into the Gulf. Lots of parks and paths leading to the beach. One pic of the beach on the Gulf and a typical path through the parks. The little statues outside city hall are the work of one artist and show the "Course of Time." The first statue is King Charles IX who ordered the founding of Oulu. The last is a child depicting the future. The 2nd statue is titled Pastor. I have to smile about that one. (See the last pic for the king and pastor.) The rest are images of people and their work over timeRead more

  • Day17

    Just back from a quick after dinner stroll in Hesperian puisto, a lovely lakeside park just across from our hotel. Attracted by the sound of music, I discovered a large group of dancers who seem to have arrived by bicycle like a flash mob. They seemed to be enjoying themselves and finished at 7. I think this is a strong union town despite being proudly independent and NOT Russian!
    Insight charge a lot of money for a supposedly premium product. Yes enjoyed two of their toes with Em in 2015 and this has so far failed to meet expectations, firstly with our tour director, secondly the included dinners and today, the Local guide. Maybe they were caught short today by all the cruise boats in port. Our guide expected a German group but it was her delivery rather than her English that was laughably inept. She might have been acceptable in the old Soviet era but today, she failed. Her anecdotes were unfinished and meandering, she felt confident to foist her opinions on stay at home versus working mums on us and she regularly failed to describe important monuments and landmarks as the coach traveled slowly by. We did not tip her.
    The previous 16 hours were largely happily spent aboard the MV Symphony as we crossed the Baltic sea from Stockholm to Helsinki. Great boat. Shame I woke at 1.30 am. Might be handy for tomorrow though.
    We have a wake-up call tomorrow at 5 am! We're trying to beat the rush of commuter buses crossing the Russian border. I'm not hopeful. Breakfast is at 5.45.
    Destination, st Petersburg. Our 5 nights in Russia will be the highlight of the trip even if the bureaucracy was trying. Helsinki is a old city but I think it's life is private making it a great place top live but a bit boring for the tourist. Pretty enough and clean and the air is fresh like home but I know it must be inhospitable for at least 8 months a year. I'll keep Sydney.
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  • Day5

    I'm loving my accommodation at Hotel Cumulus Kaisaniemi. Comfy bed, nice big breakie European style. No kettle in the room though 😠 but no matter, I bought myself a wee travel kettle.
    I have had a brilliant day, no jetlag ( amazing ), beautiful old cobbled streets and buildings with incredible detail on the exterior, big walks, a market ( I love a market! ), went on a ferris wheel thing to get an aerial view of the city, got my bearings with the Hop On/ Hop Off bus. Two highlights of the day - 1) the stunningly beautiful interior of the Uspenski Cathedral, a Russian Orthodox Church and 2) meeting a bloke while waiting for the bus who lived in Hobart and knows a bloke on Flinders Island! He described him and I could tell him who it was. It is a very small world!!
    €10 Indian buffet tonight.
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  • Day127

    Well it was a kind of wilderness anyway.. no hot running water and a composting toilet was as wilderness as I am going to get!

    In the middle of nowhere we arrived at a gorgeous little cabin for 3 days of Finnish nature. Luckily no bears.

    The cabin was on a small lake, surrounded by trees with a hot tub and a sauna so you can imagine where we spent most of our day... We also had a BBQ and an open fire and so Stuart was in his element making fire.

    We got soaked on a walk around the Pyha Hakki National Park. It is a forest full of mushrooms and moss and walkways through the boggy open areas. We did a little hike and I worried I may have touched a deadly mushroom. But here I am living to tell the tale so I imagine it was unpoisonous.

    We also visited the nearby city of Jyvaskyla for a harbour side stroll and some Finnish food.. ok so it was fast food.. but Finnish fast food nonetheless! Hesburger is a McDonald type burger joint which was actually very nice and a welcome relief for the budget!

    The composting toilet was an interesting experience. As was stumbling there in the night past the axe situated in the tree stump... Gave me some nightmares out there (the axe not the toilet)!
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  • Day13

    I was up early this morning to get the ferry to Helsinki. It never occurred to me that I needed to pre-book my ticket or get there much earlier than a half hour before the ferry was due to leave. So I got this strange / put out look from the lady, the check-in actually closes 20min before sailing, lucky for me!!!

    It's a big ferry and going across there is barely anyone one it. There is a heated outdoor area at the back and they even have a Burger King!! And the duty free alcohol range is amazing. Going back to Tallinn it wad busier and full of eastern European men, I figure truck drivers. It's only a two hour ride, and we even left before sailing time!! Efficiency for you. The ride is smooth the water is fairly flat, I guess it doesn't get that rough due to it being a bay.

    Helsinki well it's pretty, though was grey and raining. I didn't get to see much but I liked what I saw. I walked around the old harbour area, so many nice buildings. There was this lovley old indoors marketplace, full of little permanent stalls selling all kinds of food including caviar and reindeer, I didn't have either. But I did have this nice fish soup made on a tomatoe base, was yummy.

    Around the harbour there were stalls selling food as well as variety of hand made things and souvenirs. And of course I had to by something, this painting of a bear by a local woman. I think the bear is Finland's national symbol.

    The Russian orthodox church is so opulent compared to the main Lutheran one which as you can imagine is plain as Jane in inside.

    All the buildings are massive, big imposing things. Thought pretty enough.

    I came across the Merimenko shop, I was in heaven, if only I could have bought this amazing duvet cover, oh well. I'll settle on an apron. I didn't realise it was from Finland.
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  • Day106

    Egh. Didn't want to get up (do I ever?) but I did AND with time to spare for checkout. 💪🏻
    We stored our bags in the luggage hold ( took us a while to find - our first try we ended up in the basement 😂)
    We then headed out to Dunkin' Donuts for breakfast 🙊 we got 3 each. The strawberry field one was divine.
    We walked on and found the Riddarholm church - this is the resting place for all the royals I mentioned before.
    I got a student discount wooo. I'm not lying when I say im a student - I'm technically enrolled 😆I told them I didn't have evidence though - they didn't mind lol.
    It cost 75 krone for the both of us which was totally worth it - we both enjoyed it.
    It had the floor style graves like a lot of churches do but also some outrageous crypts/coffins. It was sad at how small some of them were - there were actually quite a few child kings there.
    It had what we think were house banners everywhere too.
    We found Nelson Mandalas South African flag crest thing too. Don't know what that's about.
    Will thinks maybe Nobel prize winners because as it turns out the Nobel prize is a Swedish, not Dutch thing as Will told so the picture of me standing outside "the peace palace" in the Hague is a little embarrassing. HAhah

    We then walked to the palace and while looking for the royal armory checked out the royal chapel which was nice enough but not the most amazing thing I've seen.
    The royal armory was badass though.
    The first section had royal carriages and they were so very Cinderella.
    This section just made me feel happy inside.
    The next bit had clothing and weapons etc which was cool. some outfits truly were ridiculous - the amount of effort required to put some of these things on in the morning... oh and the poor horses! Some of there outfits must have been so uncomfortable!!
    We found the outfit king Gustav - I now believe it to be the third - was wearing when he was shot. He died 13 days later from blood poisoning. You could still see the blood on the clothes and rags which was gruesome - loved it! Haha
    Their masks weren't very good back then. They looked almost Ned Kelly like. Poor form especially for royalty.
    Unless it wasn't the real mask..?

    We walked on and found the most random thing to be in a palace - a Japanese inspired samurai sword section - it even had an info thing going on about him Michone uses a katana in the Walking dead.... zombie tv shows and royalty don't normally mix hhah. Seriously so random.

    We walked outside and it was time for the changing of the guard. It was packed - we couldn't get close to see them change but we saw then parade up the street so that was something. They had a marching band lead the way.
    We walked back to the hostel where I watched the new game of thrones episode then we got our bags and headed to the station.

    Can't wait to leave Scandinavia, their train prices are criminal.
    To get an express the the airport which was only 20 mins away cost us $45 each 😩😩😩

    When we got there we discovered Stockholm has the stupidest airport system in the world. We were not the only ones who had to ask for help.
    It had a do it yourself bag drop... which was empty because there were no instructions on what to do and how to use it.
    We used the machines to check in even though our tickets said not to then the worker we asked for help from had to put our luggage into a special section with things like prams and surfboards because they might get stuck on the belt ...
    It was so silly. Literally everyone was confused.
    Went through customs and to our gate.
    Boarding didn't start when it was meant to then suddenly our gate changed -.-
    So we went to the new one only it didn't have our flight up. Everyone was very confused because we should have been taking off.
    After 20 minutes of no information we were finally told we had an hour delay. *grumble moan* at least it wasn't cancelled!
    In that hour a good 6 or 7 other planes also had gate changes. The airport was full of annoyed people aha
    Eventually we got on the damn plane - I think I had a mini nap on Wills leg because time went to quickly.
    I had a window seat woo and the flight was quick and easy.

    got our bags quickly then went to the train station.
    OWWWW WHAT BEAUTIFUL PRICES - ONLY 5€ each to get to central 😍😍😍😍😍 that's even cheaper than Greece!
    Ok so their language is confusing as crap and we needed help buying the tickets. We then took a gamble and got on a train with hopefully central station as it's final stop.
    Woohoo it did.
    Walked to our hostel, checked in, dumped out bags, went to get dinner and are now back in the dorm.

    Will was talking to me - I laughed and did the loudest fart!!!!!!!!!
    Dying inside
    I then had a laughing fit where I couldn't breath which drew even more attention to myself 😶

    My feet really smell.
    We have looked up things to do here and there is literally nothing lol. I'm sure we will find something though.

    Our bunk beds have bars - I hope Will fits hah.

    I should shower but our only towel stinks.

    I have needed to wee more than usual today.

    We have lost an hour so our 8:45 wake up tomorrow will be 7:45 😖😖😖

    Ooh and I'm the Helsinki airport toilets they play bird music - too keep you relaxed as you poop? Lol
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Republic of Finland, Finnland, Finland, ፊንላንድ, Finlandia, فنلندا, ܦܝܢܠܢܕ, Finlandiya, Finnlånd, Фінляндыя, Финландия, Finilandi, ফিনল্যান্ড, ཕིན་ལན྄ཌ།, Finska, Finlàndia, Finsko, Fińskô, Финлянди, Y Ffindir, ཕིན་ལེནཌ, Finland nutome, Φινλανδία, Finnlando, Soome, فینلاند, Fenland, Suomi, Finlande, Finlân, An Fhionlainn, Suòmaidh, ફીનલેંડ, Finnlynn, Finlan, Pinilana, פינלנד, फ़िनलैण्ड, Fenlann, Finnország, Ֆինլանդիա, Pinlandia, Finlando, フィンランド共和国, ფინეთი, Ufini, Финляндия, Finlandi, ហ្វាំងឡង់, ಫಿನ್‌ಲ್ಯಾಂಡ್, 핀란드, Šuomi, Pow Finn, Finnia, Filandɛ, ຟິນແລນ, Suomija, Filande, Somija, Finlandy, Финска, ഫിന്‍ലാന്‍ഡ്, फिनलंड, Finlandja, ဖင်လန်, Pinrand, फिन्ल्याण्ड, Fînlande, ଫିନଲ୍ୟାଣ୍ଡ, Pinlandya, فېنلانډ, Finlândia, Finlanda, Suopma, Fëlânde, ෆින්ලන්තය, Fínsko, பின்லாந்து, ఫిన్లాండ్, Finlándia, Финланд, ฟินแลนด์, Finilani, Pinlan, فىنلاندىيە, Фінляндія, فن لینڈ, Phần Lan, Suomiyän, Finlandya, פינלאנד, Orílẹ́ède Filandi, 芬兰, i-Finland

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