We started today at 11am, first passing by all the pop-up stalls of Restaurant Day (where anyone in Helsinki can open up a “restaurant”/food stall on Park Esplanad) and heading over to the Market Square docks for a 15 minute ferry ride to Helsinki’s main attraction, Suomenlinna.
Suomenlinna is a sea fortress first built by the Swedish royalty in the 17th century to protect their new Finnish colony from the Russians. It wasn’t much of a deterrent, however, as the Russians easily captured the fort and turned it into a Russian base of operations. After Finland gained its independence and retook the island, its military eventually gave it up to the municipality in 1973 to turn it into an open-air museum.
Although people say you can easily spend a whole day here exploring, that’s if you’re willing to spend 10 euros a pop to see all the 5-6 museums here. Doing a DIY version, we gave ourselves a sufficient 3-4 hours to see all the main sights.
On the first island where you land is a Lutheran church that also doubles as a lighthouse that still functions today.
Head over to the southern island to check out the world’s oldest operating drydock. Originally used to build airplanes for World War 2, it’s now a site for renovating old wooden ships:
Walking further south and you’ll come across locals spending the weekend on its tiny beach or sunbathing on the grass.
The most atmospheric part of Suomenlinna is the southwest end, Kustaanmiekka, lined with cannons and bunkers that had once served a more bellicose purpose. Now it’s The Shire from Lord Of The Rings.
Randomly, some of us also practiced our javelin throwing with backpacks:
We take advantage of the artillery:
The main path of Suomelinna eventually ends at King’s Gate, which is also the island’s welcoming structure and an alternative dock from which you can leave to get back to Helsinki (if you don’t want to retrace your steps all the way back north to the Main Quay).
Afterwards, 21 of us enjoyed sort of a last supper at Sasso:
The original plan was to head back out on the town, but being that it was a Sunday night, not much was open. The best we could muster was a beer bar that wouldn’t let us play any music.
But they did let us take shots.
Then, realizing that our hostel rooms also serves as a college dorm that’s been soundproofed and provided with tables fit for beer pong, we decided to get some liquor, cups, munchies, music, and our speakers to create our very own makeshift throwback college party.
A karaoke, sing-along, hotbox, ragefest ensued.
Tomorrow 10 people in our group will end their trip here while the 15 of us continue onwards to the Baltic States. It’s time to begin our first goodbyes.
– At time of posting in Helsinki, Finland, it was 60.8 °F – Humidity: 64% | Wind Speed: 11km/hr | Cloud Cover: clear