You know that annoying person who posts pictures of their business class experiences on social media (#blessed)? Sorry, I’m about to become one of them for this post. It’s about my first business class flight aboard a Finnair Airbus A350-900. Please forgive me for not being able to compare it with business class on other airlines, it took this peasant a while to earn this privilege.
It pains me that some of my friends and even my own mother struggled to find enough things to do in just one day in Helsinki. If only they’d asked me; I’ve been to Finland’s capital thrice (four times now, as of December 2017) and it has a special place in my heart. As my itinerary below will show, 4 days in Helsinki is enough to take in the city sights, as well as those sights just beyond the city limits and even an international border.
What I love about Helsinki is the ease with which one can navigate the city on foot. For the visitor who has seen all the must-sees (the two major cathedrals, the rock church, Suomenlinna, the railway station and the Sibelius monument). a relaxing walk among the city’s early modern architecture can be very enjoyable. There are other routes on the internet that cover other bays and parks; mine follows the coast of the south harbour (Eteläsatama).
There was one “mistake” I have no regrets making on my visit to Porvoo. As the bus that I took from Helsinki approached the city, I saw the street sign that pointed to ‘Vanha Porvoo’. It caused me to panic a little. Instead of taking the bus all the way to the terminal, I alighted at the nearest stop.
The sign pointed down a wide undulating road that bisected a quiet neighbourhood. I followed it and soon enough, though, the picturesque scene that I expected to see appeared. It did not disappoint.
The Luostarinmaki handicrafts museum is a short walk from Turku’s square, across the Aurajoki to the south-east. It’s a steep climb to this formerly-poor district, but the cliff-top location saved it from the Great Fire that consumed the rest of Finland’s former capital. By 1940, it was the city’s last collection of 18th-Century wooden houses. That was the year it was turned into the handicraft museum.
Souvenir shopping can be a hit-and-miss affair sometimes, with the occasional pain of finding out that a trinket was actually made in a Chinese sweatshop. That’s not the case here, however. Goods were made the old-fashioned way in the museum long before the hipsters made it cool. [Read on]
For travellers looking for an inexpensive option to get to Finland, budget airlines sometimes fly to Tampere instead of major centres such as Helsinki, and it takes about the same time to travel to Jyväskylä, Turku and Helsinki from there. It’s more than just a stopover and a sweet destination in its own right, but those who are pressed for time, the major sights can be covered in a few hours on this Tampere walking route that I took.