Finally arrived in Helsinki ands took a taxi to Hotel Lilla Roberts. The Hotel is very nice boutique hotel. Unpacked a few items then we went for a short walk and coffee at Kappeli which is situated in a nearby park.
Showers, wind, and cooolllllld. Think it got to 8 degrees. Perfect weather for a bike tour around the city – not! WE had decided to take the ship excursion as we were only in Helsinki for a few hours, and at least then we would be sure to be back on time. We did expect it to last as long as the time we had ashore, but that was not to be. We met to start our tour at 7.30, and the rain started as we got off the ships and got on our Jopa bikes – ie bikes native to Finland with high handlebars but were like commuter bikes. Our guide had had a kiwi partner in the past and was quite informative about how non-communicative the Finns are compared with other nationalities. She said she really had to learn the art of small talk because when she first left Finland she thought that someone asking if she’d had a nice day really wanted to know. She got some funny looks when she gave people a run down on her day. She also talked a lot about the nature and how valuable that was to the Finns. And that sometimes if people have cottages close to the Russian border and they might be out walking, or on a lake and cross the border unknowingly it can take a few days to be returned from that experience!
But unfortunately, the tour wasn’t really one for stopping and taking pictures. We stopped several times, but basically just kept on biking. Jody and I did quite a good job of taking pics as we were biking – the selfie stick was quite useful for that. One guy was not as proficient as us and dropped his phone on the road – we didn’t ask if it was ok! We did walk through the market as the tour had described but weren’t able to stop which annoyed most people on the tour. So, after 2.5 hours we were back at the ship with 2.5 hours before it was due to leave. The roundtrip bus into the city took 1.5 hours, but could have been longer with traffic, so we decided not to do that, and we were really really cold, so just shopped near the ship at the stalls. Unfortunately, one had lovely leather jackets on sale for 120 euro, and even more unfortunately there was a lovely soft one in a different style to the one that I had, and even more more unfortunately I had no self-control! But I am still very pleased that I bought it!
Once back on the ship it was to deck 5 for a hot chocolate for me and a coffee for Jody. Then we went in search of heat – sauna and steam room for me followed with a spa while Jody just used the spa. It was lovely to thaw out a bit. Then we both got into bed and read books before dinner and a show – which wasn’t too bad, but not amazing. I also had a little gamble in the casino in which the air-conditioning was very good seeing as one side was smoking and the other side wasn’t. We couldn’t smell the smoke at all on the non-smoking side. So, went to bed about midnight, but our only task tomorrow is to pack, so not really an issue.Read more
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