Our chip room crew (the group we’ve gone sailing with the past couple years) planned another adventure together – this time exploring the Baltics!
Bill and Melissa had spent the week in Lapland and the rest of us joined up in Helsinki for a long weekend. We all landed in Finland late Thursday afternoon and checked into our amazing Airbnb, which had its own beautiful sauna! After a quick sauna, we went into town for a delicious Finnish tapas meal at Juuri. We then walked around a bit hoping to see the northern lights which given the clear night was supposed to have a high probability of being seen in the city which isn’t very common. We then found a karaoke bar where we sang a few tunes, including an amazing rendition of Aerosmith’s “I don’t wanna miss a thing”. We then stopped at Taco Bell for a great 5th meal and called it a night.
Friday morning we walked over to this little cafe along the water called La Regatta and tried the local cinnamon pastry korvapuusti. We then headed into the town center, rocked out to Sandstorm in front of the cathedral (fun fact, that’s where the music video was filmed). We grabbed a quick coffee from the adorable cafe Johan & Nystrom and then hopped on the ferry over to Suomenlinna islands, where there’s an old fortress. Watching the ferry navigate through the sheets of ice was pretty spectacular. We didn’t get too far in exploring the island as we got distracted by the restaurant with warm food and cold beers.
After a couple hours, we headed back to Helsinki, stopping at the Old Market Hall before heading over to experience a traditional Finnish sauna! Melissa had found us this trendy one called Loyly which was beautiful. It was right on the Baltic Sea and had a ladder into the sea to take a cool down dip among the ice. we spent a couple hours trying out the different types of saunas (smoke, traditional, etc). It was a really cool experience and I ended up liking it way more than I anticipated.
That night we ate at the restaurant, Savotta, right in front of the cathedral and tried bear and reindeer! I wasn’t a huge fan of the bear, but the reindeer was delicious. We even surprised Cole for a little birthday celebration. Afterwards, the guys and girls split up as they wanted to check out the casino and we wanted nothing to do with that haha. Instead, we had a drink in the main town square and then walked through the design district before calling it a night.
Saturday morning, we trekked down to the ferry terminal at the harbor to realize we had just missed our check-in window. However, it turned out to be the best mistake ever as we ended up on a brand new boat that was basically a cruise ship. It had a food court, a beer garden, and a stage with live music! I’d highly recommend checking out Tallink Megastar if you’re planning to ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn.
We arrived in Tallinn and I immediately was in love – the cobblestone streets, quaint architecture and colored buildings – what’s not to love?! Our Airbnb was right in the center of old town next to the old town walls.
We explored the historical old town for a couple hours, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a unique mix of architecture. There are also quite a few lookouts over the city which offer a great view of the orange rooftops.
We then headed over to Telliskivi, an up and coming neighborhood where Eastern Europe startups are starting to call home. We grabbed drinks and snacks at F-Hoone and then stopped at another restaurant in a converted shipping container. We then stopped into this medieval bar, Olde Hanse, where the boys were thoroughly enjoying themselves and enjoying playing along with the waitresses who were in full character. We decided we had enough nice dinners of Baltic cuisine and were craving some good pizza and pasta. We found a place online and gave it a try. Afterwards, we then attempted to find a piano bar and discovered BART, which was dead when we got there so only stayed for a drink. Alex, Cole and I ended up going there later in the evening and it was packed! It was Latin night and had a lot of fun dancing the night away.
Unfortunately, Alex and Whitney had to leave early Sunday morning, but Bill, Melissa, Cole and I grabbed some coffee and walked around the old town exploring some more.
I loved exploring two new countries and getting a taste of an entirely different part of Europe than we’re used to visiting. Cole and I are already planning a future trip to Slovenia and hopefully Latvia!