By the time I woke up on the ferry the next morning it didn’t take me long to realize I made a mistake – Helsinki is an hour ahead of Stockholm, which meant I was an hour behind schedule. Luckily I have a habit of setting a lot of time aside in the mornings to get ready, so I wasn’t in a major panic getting myself back on schedule.
Once the ship finally docked I headed straight towards the nearest tram stop and took the tram towards Senate Square. From there I got off and walked to the tourist info centre, where I would be picking up the Helsinki Card I purchased in advance. The Helsinki Card is another all-in-one attractions + transportation pass. It’s exactly like the Stockholm Pass, except I found that it had waaaay better value. Their Region card includes travel to and from the airport. You can also use it to get discounts on the ferry to Tallinn. I paid 69€ for a 3-day Region card and I already saved 51€ from my ferry to Tallinn alone. It’s definitely worth getting even if you’re only there for a day!
Another really important thing I did at the tourist info centre was meet my friend Aura, who traveled from Jyväskylä just to see me! It’s so nice to finally hang out together! It was even nicer for me because I had my own personal translator during my time in Helsinki. =P
The first thing we did was drop our luggage off inside the Makasiini Terminal. Then we spent time wandering around Senate Square and the Helsinki Cathedral. With our Helsinki Card we exchanged tickets for a boat tour later that afternoon. Since there were so many shops set up inside Market Square, we ended up grabbing lunch at one of the booths. Aura and I both got an order of traditional salmon soup. There was hardly any soup inside my bowl because it was all fish and potatoes. Lol
By the time we finished lunch it was time to board for our cruise. We had really nice weather that day in Helsinki. The sun was out and it was relatively warm, so a lot of people were sitting on the deck with just a light jacket on. About 20 minutes into the tour, the wind picked up so Aura and I ended up heading inside for the remainder of the cruise. The cruise itself was 90 minutes and I think by 10 minutes in we had seen enough of the scenery that we were just counting down the minutes until we were back on land. Haha
Once we finished the cruise we cut through Esplanadi Park and made our way towards Ateneum Art Museum. When we first got there we browsed through this amazing Come to Finland poster exhibit which celebrates Finland’s centenary year. Then we made our way around the rest of the museum. The museum itself is not very big, so we finished well before closing time. Since we didn’t have to be at the apartment till later that afternoon, we ended up walking to Finland’s oldest bakery, Ekberg for dessert. We bought take out from the counter then made our way to a nearby park to eat. Their cakes were so good that I almost wanted to get a second slice!
When we finished we went back to retrieve our luggage, then it was the tram to Kallio, where we would be staying for the next couple of nights. After we got keys and dropped off our stuff, we made our way back out hoping to find a spot for dinner. The first restaurant we ended up at was apparently fully booked for the evening, so we left our name down hoping to try again the next day. The second restaurant we went to was called Savotta. When we first approached the restaurant we saw a tour group of 20+ people go inside. We were afraid that we wouldn’t get a table but luckily there was space!
One of the cool things about the Helsinki Card is that you could use it on discounts for restaurants too, if you order off their a la carte menu. Aura and I both got their Karelian stew. When it first came I was a little skeptical that the portions would feed both of us, but we were really full once we finished all the stew, beets and the mashed potatoes. Aura also introduced me to this lingonberry drink called Lempi, which was amazing as well. Overall it was a very good start for our time in Helsinki!