At least as Slavic as it is Scandinavian, Helsinki charmed us during a quick visit.
Our overnight Viking Lines ferry to Helsinki was not quite up to the standard set by our earlier cruise from Copenhagen to Oslo, though we loved the on-board sauna, hot tub, and plunge pool. We were happy to disembark in the charming city of Helsinki, where we discovered a fantastic city market and gorged ourselves on wild blueberries, dense little strawberries, and juicy blackberries and raspberries. We popped in to the fun (and free) Helsinki City Museum where Sam especially liked the Virtual Reality visit to the city in various eras. All the vitamins from the fruit feast didn’t do anything to keep me from getting Sam’s cold, so the next day the boys ventured out to the eighteenth-century fortress Suomenlinna without my company, and to dinner in a fantastic-sounding local restaurant, Konstan Molja, that I was sorry to miss. There, Patrick broadened his palate with roasted reindeer, Finnish egg butter on karelian pie (a kind of savoury pastry often filled with rice), and various Slavic cabbage and potato dishes, while Sam feasted on meatballs again.
We saw enough of Helsinki to form a distinct impression that it has as much in common with Russia and the Eastern Bloc as with Scandinavia, not least through the continuing ties of tourism. St Petersburg is just a short ferry ride away, and if we’d had a few more days we would certainly have made our way there or to Talinn, in Estonia. However, time was running out on our Scandinavian adventure, and our French fling was about to begin.
Sam didn’t know it, but before taking up residence in rural France for the month of September we’d have three glorious, fun-filled days at Disneyland Paris. It was the perfect way to shift gears, and I’ll tell you all about it in my next post.
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