After reviewing this post Katy commented (i.e. politely complained) that there are no laughs. Well, I’m sorry dear reader, but getting to Helsinki is too uneventful to be funny. If you still want to read on after that intro, well you’re probably part of the 90% of readership that are family.
No, we are not on a cruise. That must be the most common way for North Americans to see Helsinki, Tallinn and St. Petersburg because it’s the first question anyone asks when I tell them that’s where we’re going. Nothing against you cruise faring folk, it’s just not our thing. As usual we’ll be travelling by plane, train (tram) and automobile.
Why these locations for this trip? (The next most common question.) Why not? Sure the direct flight from Toronto, lack of malaria and temperatures this time of year make it a good place to come with a toddler, but mostly we just haven’t been yet and this is where the magic globe landed when we gave it a whirl.
Much like our last trip to South Africa, this one started with a late night flight out of Terminal 3. In fact, we were one gate over from last time. Fortunately the boarding process with Finnair was much less painful than our last KLM experience. What’s more, our bags made it all the way too!
The flight wasn’t fully booked so in addition to Ella flying with an actual paid seat we had a spare, giving us 4 across. Enough room for Ella to spread out for some sleep. She may have only taken advantage for about 3 hours of our overnight flight, but it wasn’t for a lack of space… at least for her.
In case you’re wondering about Finnair, the reviews I read were overly harsh. Sure it’s economy flying and definitely not the world’s nicest airline, but it’s far from the worst.
After a painless (if mostly sleepless) flight we breezed through security at a very quiet Helsinki airport and caught a cab to our apartment.
We dropped off our bags and almost immediately headed out for a our first look around the city. We were all pretty shattered, but it was late enough in the day that we decided it was better to push through to Ella’s bedtime than have a nap.
With only a few hours, we decided to use the time to get our bearings and make some plans for the days ahead. Our apartment is a short walk (10 minutes) from the harbour and city centre. We started with a stop at the tourist information centre to check on some of the local tours and see which might be the best options.
Following that, a short walk around the harbour market and dinner at a nice Italian restaurant, it was time for bed and we were all more than ready for it.
We got Ella to bed and I couldn’t keep my eyes open long enough to even look at a map with Katy, let alone write this post. I started crashing at 8:00 when Ella went to sleep and despite a few attempts at reading things, that was pretty much it until 7:00 the next morning.