Discover travel destinations of travelers writing a travel journal on FindPenguins.

19 travelers at this place

  • Day24

    Caught up in the Invasion

    June 26, 2019 in Finland ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    With only full day in Helsinki, it seemed to be a good idea to include a personal guided tour of the city for the members of our group. At the appointed hour a smiling lady appeared in the hotel foyer. Since she was wearing a prominent badge labelled "GUIDE", we made the logical assumption that she was to be our guide. It turned out to be true.

    We were ushered back outside to the same luxury Mercedes that had brought us from the ferry terminal the previous day. It certainly was a comfortable way to see the city. Our first stop was at the Sibelius Monument. When you only have a tiny population of around 5 million people, I guess there are not too many candidates for the role of national hero. The composer Jean Sibelius is obviously Finland's favourite son and his presence is seen all over the city.

    The monument consists of a collection of huge stainless steel pipes, all welded together. It would have been nice to take a picture of them without first having to wait for busloads of tourists,all wanting to have their own pictures taken standing right in front of the monument. The cruise liners had obviously arrived in the port and their toxic cargoes of thousands of camera carrying tourists were all over the city.

    Our next stop was the new Oordi Library - a massive construction made entirely of wood. It is amazing how a brilliant piece of architecture can revitalise an entire district and this is exactly what this building had done. With its sloping floors and soaring ceilings, it certainly challenges the senses when you are inside. It is much more than just a library - it has become a vibrant meeting place and community hub.

    The other major place we were going to visit was the famous Lutheran Church in the Rock. The entire church has been built into the rock in the centre of Helsinki.

    I remember being very impressed by this place five years ago and was keen to spend some quiet time there again. That turned out to be impossible. The super cruise liners have changed (ie ruined) all that. You cannot even get close to the building now because of the jam of the tourist coaches. The crowds of loud people all streaming towards the building looked more like a Grand Final Football crowd than people going to a place of reflection and prayer. To make matters even worse, our guide raised a flag. I could have died of shame.

    You now have to buy a ticket to enter and the queues stretched far back from the entrance. Once inside you are confronted by a souvenir shop where you can buy mementos and drinks. Is this really still a functioning Lutheran church or a type of Disneyland ? In front of me a family was having trouble with their two smartphone carrying young children. One of them was having a tantrum because he had lost his Internet connection. At that stage I lost interest and was ready to leave.

    I could not help but feel sad that the place had changed so much for the worse. It reminded me of what had now happened to Macchu Picchu since it had been prostituted in the name of mass tourism. To me, the effect of these massive passenger liners has been to destroy much of what you come to Europe to experience. I could not wait to escape the masses to somewhere much quieter.

    After the tour finished, I spent the remainder of the day wandering the city on my own. Thanks to a dose of Neurofen, my knee was giving me a little less trouble. By the middle of the afternoon the cruise passengers were all back on their floating cities and Helsinki was much more liveable once more.

    In the evening our group (now reduced to 8) went out for our final dinner in Helsinki. Tomorrow we will lose another two, when David and Sue start their return journey to Australia. The remaining six of us will be continuing to Russia. That should be quite an experience.
    Read more

    Carol Yates

    You will enjoy Russia more 🤗

    Carol Yates

    Just remember you are also just one of the thousands of tourists🤯🤣

  • Day23

    Hobbling in Helsinki

    June 25, 2019 in Finland ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    There is absolutely no doubt that Tallinn is a very appealing city. It's small size makes it easy to get around on foot, it's lovely medieval buildings are enchanting and the clean air makes it easy to breathe. In fact, if it weren't for the ferocious winters and the daily invasion of thousands of cruise ship passengers, it would probably be a great place to live.

    While we never had to experience the harshness of the winter months, we certainly witnessed the daily ritual of the giant cruise ship invasions. Every morning these behemoths of the ocean dock at Tallinn port, disgorge their thousands of selfie snapping passengers to crowd the centre of the old town, then by mid afternoon they are off to repeat the same procedure at the next Baltic port. I fail to see how this can in any way be enjoyable for the passengers who are herded from place to place, just like sheep. It is little wonder that many towns in Europe are now actively complaining about how this modern phenomenon is ruining their cities.

    This was our last morning in Tallinn, and it also marked the official end of the first part of our trip. Our group is now breaking up to head in their different directions. It also marked the end of UTRACKS involvement with our arrangements. Up to now everything had gone exactly according to plan, but now I would be putting ourselves in the hands of another (and completely untried tourism operator). Time would tell how it all panned out.

    When putting together the Russian part of our trip I went through three different travel agencies in Melbourne. None of them had the experience and competence to undertake our trip. That is when I decided to try out a local agent, based in the Baltics. Putting so much responsibility in the hands of someone you will never meet is very scary. It's even more scary when you you to transfer large sums of money to their bank account. Somewhere in the back of my mind there was a fearful little voice telling me that it was probably just a front for the Russian mafia.

    After a final short walk around the town, we returned to the hotel to wait for our transfer to the port. It arrived right on time and we were soon at the very impressive Tallinn passenger terminal. This was my first chance to test the arrangements that had been made by Baltic Events and Travel. I walked to the check in desk and presented my voucher. The lady looked at it and went off to collect the tickets. So far so good.

    I was handed a pile of ten tickets. That much was correct. It was only when I checked the names that I discovered that several were jumbled up. Christian names were swapped at random. I hoped that it would not matter too much. Fortunately no one checked passports and we were all able to board without incident. Our ship was the very impressive Megastar. Hundreds of noisy foreign passengers were jostling to get on board first. I was really glad that we were only doing this once, for many others this is a daily ritual.

    Our group of ten managed to secure a small block of seats and then block it off with a barricade of our luggage. All around the cacophony continued unabated. I don't understand why so many people feel the need to carry on every conversation at the same volume as a bellowing elephant. I plugged in my headphones and listened to Australia playing England the World Cup Cricket.

    Fortunately the crossing to Helsinki only takes around two hours and we were soon shuffling our way off the Megastar onto the pier at Helsinki. A glance around revealed a large assemblage of massive cruise ships already docked. Some of these were like floating versions of Fountain Gate Shopping Centre. We just wanted to get away from the crowd.

    I had been promised that someone would be waiting for on arrival, and there was. He had my name spelt wrong, but what the heck, at least he was there. We were led to a waiting luxury Mercedes Benz bus and driven to our hotel in the prestigious Kluuvi district of the city.

    The GLO Kluuvi is a lovely hotel - easily the most luxurious of our trip so far. It was a little disconcerting when they had been given the wrong names for some of the rooms, but this seems to be a recurring theme here. (Dana at UTRACKS would NEVER make such mistakes). At least the number of rooms was correct.

    After checking in, I spent some time hobbling around the local district. My left knee is still very stiff and painful, meaning that I was not able to travel far. I did however see some familiar sights that I remembered from my previous time here in 2014. After dinner at a nearby cafe, I went back to the hotel for an early night. It was only about 10 pm, so the sun was still high in the sky.

    Over the past couple of days the local news has been full of alarming reports about the European heat wave. In many parts of central Europe the temperatures have been souring to near 40C. Although we are now too far north to be affected by the heat, the weather has continued to be exceptional. Virtually every day has been fine and sunny, ever since we arrived in Warsaw. It now looks like this will follow us all the way to St Petersburg. That wet weather gear looks like staying at the bottom of the case after all.
    Read more

    Dennis Dawson

    Part of the 24 hour flower market at Tallinn

  • Day245

    Helsinki Theatre

    September 2, 2019 in Finland ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Helsinki turned out to be a pleasant city, but after a night I've decided to head to Lakeland in central Finland yet will come back and spend a weekend here before continuing to Baltic states. Finnish National Theater and a statue of sad Alexis Kivi - one of the first Finnish novelists (strangely enough he lived in XIX century, perhaps it was the reason of being sad🤪)Read more

  • Day32


    May 1, 2018 in Finland ⋅ 🌫 5 °C

    Wow. This is a fantastic city! I have totally underestimated Finland. In 2017, Finland was rated the 5th happiest country in the world. It has one of the best educational outcomes on a global scale as well. In other words, they are doing something right.

    We are lucky to have unwittingly arrived during the public holiday of ‘May Day.’ This is a big thing here in Helsinki. On May Day Eve, the city comes alive with people. During the day it was warm-ish and sunny. We rented City Bikes and rode around people-watching, wondering why there were an increasing amount of people wearing sailor’s hats, and why the many statues all had sailor hats on. We stopped at Market Hall for some famous Finnish salmon soup (yum!) and eventually came back to the flat for a mid-afternoon rest. By 6pm we were out again, and the streets were packed! Most people were wearing sailor-looking hats (which actually are something uni-related), and all the engineering students (of which there are many) wear brightly-coloured work overalls covered in patches. Everyone seemed to be carrying a large bottle of alcohol. Buskers played accordions. There was a musician who played glass bottles. Bands were parading down the street- most notably a drum band whose conductor was dressed in an inflatable dinosaur costume. Someone had filled the main fountain with laundry detergent. Groups of students were singing. Weird and wonderful people-watching. The boys played soccer in the square for a bit. Memorable day.

    Today (May Day) was cold and rainy. The City was amazingly cleaned up after all of the partying, but it was very quiet and much was closed. A good day for doing homework with the boys.

    At the airport, about to board for Rome. It is a sunny Spring day in Helsinki, good memories. Jesse is hobbling about. He had a sore leg after a stack on the last day skiing, but seemed to be recovering. After an hour's soccer the other day the injury has reared up again. Buz reckons it may be a hairline fracture of the fibula... which you can't do much about but stay off it. Not ideal for Rome! We are looking at crutches, but the pharmacist told us that you need to get them prescribed by a doctor here. We shall see what they do in Italy!

    Ambled around the National Museum of Finland yesterday to school ourselves up on Suomi history. The gist is that it had an interesting prehistoric past, typically dark and religious middle ages where bring poor would have sucked abysmally, then found Itself in the middle of a tug of war between Sweden and Russia for its land. So pretty impressive they have maintained their identity and language. And possibly why they seem to be such adaptable people.

    Also, amazing vintage shops! Bought 3 dresses for 6 euro! I can't wait to alter them a bit when I get my hands on a sewing machine. I think only getting 3 shows my level of restraint. Buz disagrees.

    Anyway, 'kittos' Finland for a great stay!
    Read more

    Arik Williams

    Sounds like a nice visit. I’ve had a low level itch to visit Helsinki since seeing Night on Earth a hundred years ago or so.

  • Day34

    Helsinki 3

    May 3, 2018 in Finland ⋅ 🌫 5 °C

    Started the day with soccer in the square again. Quite cold about 2 c. Jesse might have a small fibula fracture. He has been complaining of pain from where the upper part of his ski boots were. Also he can’t walk that well. 10 days!
    We limped around the Helsinki museum which had some great Viking and Middle Ages stuff.
    Finished off the day with soccer in the square.
    Read more

    Sandra Mohr

    Where's the photos of the Barbie exhibit?

  • Day31

    Helsinki 2

    April 30, 2018 in Finland ⋅ ⛅ 6 °C

    Beautiful blue sky.
    Played soccer in the main square.
    Hired bikes and ride around town.
    Had salmon soup for lunch at the markets on the docks.
    That evening there was a big party in town with all the Uni students out boozing and wearing hats!
    A great city! Everyone is very polite and friendly and speaks great English.
    Read more

    Sandra Mohr

    That's a nice bike!

  • Day27

    Café Krypta

    August 18, 2016 in Finland ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Die kleine Krypta unter dem Dom von Helsinki hat aktuell einen Café Bereich, der mit Selbstgebackenem in süß und herzhaft lockt.

    Unseren Stellplatz haben wir etwas außerhalb der City, mit Blick aufs Wasser, direkt neben einem schwimmenden Café gefunden.Read more

    Guten Morgen schöne Landschaften und eine super Tour Rocky und ich kraxeln nur im Nahverkehrsbereich herum in 14 Tagen ist enkirch

  • Day12

    Wunderschönes finnisches Nationaltheater

    July 28, 2020 in Finland ⋅ ☁️ 18 °C

    Vom Ateneum aus konnten wir über den Bahnhofsplatz bereits das wunderschöne finnisches Nationaltheater sehen und sind daher direkt zu diesem gegangen. Über den Bahnhofsplatz und am Aleksis-Kivi-Denkmal (Denkmal für den finnischen Schriftsteller) vorbei ging’s zum Theater. Das finnische Nationaltheater wurde am 1872 gegründet. Es ist das älteste Theater mit Aufführungen in finnischer Sprache. Das Gebäude wurde 1902 erbaut und mehrfach vergrößert. Die große Bühne fasst 885 Plätze. Auf der Rückseite des repräsentativen Bauwerks befindet sich in einem quaderförmigen Neubau aus dem Jahr 1954 die kleine Bühne mit 309 Sitzplätzen. Vom Nationaltheater ging’s dann zurück über den Bahnhofsplatz und zum Abendessen bei Fafa‘s.Read more

  • Day8

    A lesson in language

    August 19, 2017 in Finland ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    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


    Maree Crawford

    Hello Margie 💕 yes I am having a fantastic time. Not wanting to leave yet but the cycle adventure in Lithuania starts tomorrow and that's exciting! I'll be back....

  • Day6

    European breakfasts are the best!

    August 17, 2017 in Finland ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    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 !
    Read more

    Jodi Underwood

    Yummo looks delicious! Enjoy 😋


You might also know this place by the following names:

Kaisaniemi, Kajsaniemi