So, we reached berry land on a mini cruise from Talinn. At the docking area, I went bonkers over the different types of absolutely fresh berries available there. I regret not trying the Helsinki berries (yellowish) because they did not have any samples to taste, though we bought all the other berries like; raspberries that melted if you held them for too long, strawberries that were the size of plums, blackberries that I thought were only a bunch of smartphones and delicious blueberries that I had only tasted the canned version of on cheese cakes. As a person who loves fruits, I felt that this was paradise.
When we checked into a hotel, we learned that they had no porters to help with our luggage. We, Indians, carry our homes when we travel so we need porters everywhere. Luckily, we were five families so all of us managed to get our luggage and children up into our respective rooms. After we freshened up, we were on our way to explore the town my ex-general manager belonged to. I used to have a full time job once upon a time, remember?
At the Senate Square, the Helsinki Cathedral, formerly known as St. Nicholas’ Church, stood out. It was beautifully adorned in white, with four small green domes on the sides and a large one in the center. The twelve apostles have been erected as large zinc statues all around the Cathedral’s roof. Check if you can notice them in the pictures. Inside the Cathedral was a simple setting from the 19th century.
If you are contemplating carrying the pram, feel free to because even the trams there are specially built for wheelchairs and strollers to get on and off easily. It was impressive how even the bus drivers always stopped exactly an inch away from the pavement making it easy for us to push the pram in, without having to lift it. Hopefully, our country will get this organized at least when I’m old and in a wheelchair.
There was another thing that I loved eating there in Helsinki. While we looked for some craft beers, we found a little underground restaurant (Bryggeri) which looked quite dull for our taste. We were already hungry so we went in and ordered a cheese plate for our vegetarian friends and some chicken for us. The cheese plate had a good combination of hard bread, cashew nuts and jam along with it. When all this mixed in our mouth, it was delectable.
We took a ferry to the Suomenlinna Island and quickly visited the Suomenlinna Church, the King’s Gate, the dry port and the fortress. My friend and I relived our youth by climbing the walls of the fortress and sitting on the topmost embrasure of a window. While enjoying the paparazzi below us, we suddenly heard a noise behind us. What could be living in a lonely place high up in a fortress? We froze. My friend assumed it was an animal that was waiting for its prey. I did not want to guess so we decided to scram. While we were leaving to get down, she saw it was a man whose sleep we apparently disturbed. With a sigh of relief that it wasn’t something we had to run from, we slowly climbed down.
The SkyWheel is a 40 meter high Ferris wheel that gives you a 360 degrees view of Helsinki. We could see the Helsinki Cathedral as well as the Uspenski Cathedral which are 500 meters away from each other. On the other side, we could see the cruise liner which brought us from Estonia to Finland. Behind us, the brown building with a black roof is Wanha Satama – the Old Harbour which is a historic venue for different kinds of events. (Initially, I could only see the Japanese Restaurant ‘Furuma Cuisine’ and wondered what the whole building was used for as I could not find it anywhere online. Credit and gratitude goes to Mr Jari Heikka for solving the mystery for me.)
We left Helsinki after the airport security guys took away my sunscreen lotion and my newly purchased L’Oreal Multivitamins shampoo we do not get in India or Kuwait. Without thinking, I had hesitantly packed them in the baby bag. Anyway, with a heavy heart I learnt my lesson and got ready for Sweden, hoping to find some berries there too. Helsinki is surely a place I would want to visit again.