I woke up on the ferry Tuesday morning, officially in Finland and also feeling sick. :( I dunno if it was just the air in the cabin or what, because I did eventually start feeling better once I got up and ready. I will say that while the overnight ferry was SO CONVENIENT AND CHEAP, it was also kind of chaotic because you have basically an hour to eat breakfast before the ferry docks around 7:30AM. That…is an early start.
We did pay extra for the breakfast buffet – I think it was $16pp which is not bad, really – after I realized before our trip that it was going to possibly be a bit difficult to find somewhere to eat breakfast once we arrived in Turku. Most of the cafes seemed to open around 10 and I really didn’t see us lasting that long without food. Especially Chooch and me. We be bitches.
But dang, that buffet was chef’s kiss. I mean, every breakfast buffet we had on this vaca up until now was impeccable, delectable, incredible, all of the bles you can think of, I’m not a fucking thesaurus. Sadly, we would be on own for breakfast after this, since we weren’t staying in a hotel in Helsinki.
Don’t worry, we’d survive.
Um, I wrote IN REAL TIME from that morning so you might already know that Henry jacked up my Turku plans and we ended up just taking a train to Helsinki almost immediately after getting off the ferry, but not before standing on a platform for something that Henry “wasn’t sure” was correct and seeing some kid get bit on the stomach by a dog. That was pretty dramatic. I mean, the kid was screaming and crying but the mom was like, “*shrug*” after half-assedly checking for broken flesh, and meanwhile the dog-owner was like a comic cell of the word SKEDADDLE come to life. She and the dog peaced out big quick. I mean, I didn’t blame her. I am always on the dog’s side. Why did he bite that kid? What did that kid do to him? Probably SOMETHING, you know what I’m saying.
I wonder what the law is like in Finland. Here, if that mom would have pressed the issue, that dog probably would have been put down, and I really fucking hate that about America. So, dogs can’t protect themselves? OK cool. Great.
Anyway, the train ride was about 2 hours, maybe less. Henry slept immediately for the entire duration, Chooch did god knows what on his phone (actually, he spent almost the whole trip doing deep dives into critically acclaimed music lists during all of the bus rides, etc), and I looked out the window marveling at the Finnish landscape.
My first real observation, while Henry tried to explain to the cab driver that morning what we were trying to do is that English didn’t seem to be AS second-language-y as it was in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. So this was our mistake not being prepared with better translated instructions for the driver after becoming way too complacent in the first half of our trip. Ugh, we probably totally came off as “those” kinds of Americans, and I 100% swear to god we are not and do not ever expect our dumb language to be spoken by all.
I was still kind of annoyed with Henry by the time we got to Helsinki and also nervous to see how scary it was going to be to navigate. Turns out, NOT TOO BAD. We were able to get our luggage locker with success, and this was the first time on the whole trip being in a city where you have to pay to use the public restrooms so that was fun (no really, it was cool!). I haven’t had to do this since I was a kid in…probably Italy? Germany? I can’t remember which other countries had pay-to-use restrooms back then. Definitely only accepted coins back then though, lol!
First impression of Helsinki was that the people were chill and laidback.
I think the subway was easy to use? I seem to recall Henry and Chooch fighting over this a lot but we always seemed to get where we needed to, somehow.
He hates us lololol.
We had some time to kill before our apartment for the week was ready, and it was nearing lunchtime, so we stopped inside Hakaniemen Market Hall for a small bite.
First we walked all the way around both floors to get a good idea of what was offered – a lot, that’s for sure, and quite a few vegan options as well! Chooch and I made friends with an older man who had a booth of his original artwork on postcards and magnets plus general souvenir fare like patches, etc. Of fucking course I didn’t have my credit card so we promised the guy we would be back while we went to fetch Henry who was probably erotically sniffing meat odors somewhere. I’m sure the guy was like, “Mmm, heard that one before,” but we really did come back, after snagging some chocolate samples from another vendor and then collecting Henry.
This reminds me that I need to get my print framed still! I really liked that guy! His Helsinki city art was bright and fun.
Then we went back to the very first food vendor we saw, all the way at the entrance, and got pastries and sandwiches. Isn’t it funny when it works out that way?? I homed in on those pastries as soon as we walked in and plus they had meat-free sandwich options, so it was perf.
It was the perfect lunch.
Chooch was desperately looking for Hoobastank to buy for Bill. Inside jokes, you guys. At the time of this trip, our record player was broken had been broken for a few years and Henry kept saying he was going to buy a new one. Our other one was legit from the 70s or 80s and worked so well, but then the needle broke and apparently in this modern area, replacing a needle on an old turntable costs as much as buying a new, good record player. So anyway, every time I told Chooch, “Why don’t you buy something for yourself,” he would say AND PLAY IT ON WHAT?? Anyway, like a month after coming back, Henry finally bought a new one, so I bet Chooch is kicking himself. Dude, I was still buying records the whole time our player was broken! I didn’t understand Chooch’s logic, but then again, I don’t usually understand him at all, ever, so why am I even wasting time typing words and thoughts and feelings about this.
Just can’t escape that piece of shit!
Dude, the amount of times we would be in the area of Helsinki’s Central Station over the next three days….
Anyway, we eventually retrieved our luggage from the locker and figured out which streetcar we needed to get to our apartment, which was in an old building with a super scary vintage elevator, and a mini-geocache sesh was required to procure the key from its hidden spot. It was a very small studio with a double bed and a futon but it was worth it for the amount of time we were actually there, and the neighborhood was so quiet with lots of conveniences nearby, like small markets, cafes and restaurants. And there were bus and trolley stops within walking distance too so I wasn’t mad about it.
View from the window.
Here’s a map for reference.
Taka-Töölö!! I love that name so much!
Anyway, after getting settled in the apartment, it was time for our first Finnish amusement park! STAY TUNED. This park was actually so magical and I think about it lovingly at random parts throughout the day. I would love to go back! It had VIBES, man. VIBES.