Finland! The finest of the lands!
Adventures in Helsinki, Espoo, Nuuksio and Porvoo.
5 Day Trip including arrival and departure.
Airline: Norwegian Air
I booked tickets about a month in advance and got my round-trip tickets for 100 GBP.
Accommodation: My friend’s apartment.
My getaway was five days including arrival and departure. I stayed with my very good friend Juha, he showed and drove me around.
**I did not have enough time to go to Lapland, the northern lights, but I want to make a trip to specifically see them.**
Juha is a Finnish local and was raised in Helsinki. Juha and I met in Shanghai, China Summer 2014 right after I watched the Mexico vs. Holland World Cup football match. It was 5am and we have been friends ever since.
He is doing his masters in Signal Engineering at Alto University. I stayed at Juha’s apartment during my visit. He has an apartment on the Alto University Campus and has a beautiful view of the forest and Baltic Sea…what more could you ask for?
Forests are places where I feel at peace and helps me recharge, so waking up to see that view was amazing. I was looking forward to indulging into the Finnish nature.
Juha lives in a city called Espoo, which is a 15 minute drive from Helsinki. For transportation we got around by car.
Day 1: Arrival
Norwegian Air is awesome! FREE Wifi on board and great experience overall. Good service and comfortable seats. On each Norwegian Air plane they have a different historical figure on the tail depending where you fly to. Today I was flown by Ivar Aasen, a Norwegian Linguist. I was also a little confused if I was on the right plane when I saw two sombreros boarding this early morning flight.
Juha picked me up from the airport and took me straight to his best friend’s (Lauri) place to eat. They kindly cooked 🙂
After we ate, Juha took me to his place to rest before we went to explore Helsinki that evening. After I took my much needed nap, we meet up Juha’s friends to have some drinks and take an evening walk around Helsinki. On our walk I ate a typical Finnish snack at this well known snack truck called Jaskan Grilli and the snack was called Lihapiirakka (Meaty pie).
Day 2: Nuuksio National Park, Helsinki Sightseeing, Sauna Party and Partying in Helsinki
Lauri, Juha and I hiked through the Nuuksio National Park. Ice and snow was melting everywhere and it was very slippery. I wore jeans and Doc Marteens. Juha and Lauri wore ski pants and hiking boots, but who looked more stylish? Beauty is pain, am I right ladies 😉
Finland Tip: Do not hike anywhere with Doc Marteens. You will slip and fall on your ass like an idiot.
The plan was to hike and then stop to cook over a fireplace station located in the park. We bought sausages to cook for lunch and marshmallows, chocolate and cookies for dessert (Smores <3)The scenery was truly breathtaking. Lakes and streams were frozen and ice was everywhere. I felt like a forest fairy, in my true habitat. I got to walk on the frozen lakes which was super cool, it was a Clementine Kruczynski moment, get it? We hiked for about five hours including our fireplace lunch then drove back, danced to Finnish radio then we all needed a nap. After the nap, we headed to explore Helsinki before the sunset set and came back for a party later that night.
Helsinki Streets- Mix of old Soviet style and new modern buildings
Tuomiokirkko & Senate Square
There was a street food festival in the square.
Carl Fazer- Chocolate <3!!
Lauri had a birthday party to go to that night and invited Juha and I to join him. The Finnish love their beer and I am not a beer fan at all, so I stuck with cider and wine.
So, in Finland they LOVE their sauna time… a lot! I was told that the birthday party was a sauna party, they are a typical thing here. So how does it work?
Someone books a sauna house or apartment which includes a kitchen, bathrooms, lounge area, balcony, one big changing room, sauna, showers, and a sauna balcony. People come over and drink, go to the changing room, get naked, all go into the sauna together, shower, go outside on the sauna balcony in the freezing cold, repeat the process a few times, shower and eventually get back dressed and continue drinking/partying.
Closer to midnight everyone decided to continue partying in Helsinki and I got to have a taste of the Finnish nightlife.
The finns do not dress up to go out, the dress code is semi-club (if you can even call it that). Just add heels and make up to the outfit and you’re good to go. After a few hops around the center we ended our night in Aussie Bar. I was pretty impressed with the music of the night. They enjoy their house music and mix it well with Latin and oldie classics, it was a great night. Of course, the Scandinavian countries love their heavy/death metal and there are plenty places to go for that too.
Coming home was the only time I used public transportation and we took the bus. I have no idea how the metro works, all I know that there is one line in the shape of a Y.
Day 3: Porvoo
This was our chill day, since last night was so hectic our day didn’t start until 2pm 😛
Juha took me to Porvoo which is a small town 40 minute drive away from Espoo.
Porvoo is a beautiful small town, perfect for a lazy day. The streets were filled with cobble stones and the walk was very relaxing only the weather was freezing cold. We walked around the city, had lunch in the center and then topped it off with a coffee by the river. Coffee is everywhere in Finland (I am a coffee addict), so I was in heaven.
The day ended at Lauri’s place with some coffee and good old video games. Originally the plan was to make another campfire, but it was cold and snowing so we decided to stay warm inside.
Day 4: Walking in the Forest along the Baltic Sea, Fish Market & Churches in Helsinki
Walking in the Forest along the Baltic Sea
Old Market Hall- Salmon and Reindeer
Church of Silence
Day 5: Departure Day
Departure day basics: Sleeping in, lunch, packed/checked in and Juha drove me to the airport.
Juha and all his friends were super friendly and funny, Finns really enjoy having a good time. After a beer, they are very sociable and enjoy great conversation.
Juha and Lauri encouraged me to come back in the summer time. In the summer, they all drive up to a cottage in the forest to party and swim in the lakes, hopefully I will return soon. 🙂
Airport Tip: I recommend buying souvenirs at the Helsinki airport. At the airport they have an adorable Moomin Land, a Finnish cartoon, store with a great selection. There are also many Finnish souvenir shops all around the airport. The reason I am pointing this out is because, when I was in Helsinki it was tricky finding a souvenir store. We did find some souvenir stores while I was there, but I felt the airport had a much better selection and prices. Even the Moomin store had some great prices when compared to the ones offered in Helsinki.
Until my next adventure, näkemiin.
See you soon, Gab 😉