Rubles and Ramblings

Rubles and Ramblings

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Finland & Estonia

Traveling the world with the best 
I'm finally home after 5 days of traveling to Helsinki, Finland and Tallinn, Estonia!  Both cities were very different from each other, I still can't decide which place I enjoyed more...but here is everything I did while I was there!

After a long train ride to Helsinki, Finland, we arrived at our hotel.  The first day was a bus tour of the city where we saw the main sites of Helsinki.  There was a huge cathedral in a large square that we got to take pictures and climbed to the top of!  Photo creds to Leo!
We also went to a memorial to commemorate the famous Finnish composer, Sibelius.  It was in a beautiful park and one of my favorite sites in Helsinki!  My group and I had fun taking pics on the monument and exploring the grounds together.
Posin' with Sibelius

After the city tour, a few friends and I hopped on a ferry to the sea fortress of Helsinki.  This was my favorite part of Finland by far.  The sea fortress is a series of small islands that housed old military bunkers and cannons to protect the city.  We spent our time there exploring the hills and abandoned bunkers around the island.  

The views from the top were breathtaking, I felt like I was millions of miles from the city when it was really just a quick ferry ride away. 

Bye Finland!! 
After the sea fortress, we went back to the hotel for dinner.  Everything in Finland is really expensive, so rather than throwing down 30 euros for a meal, we kept it cheap by getting Chinese takeout (Definitely worth the 8 euros!)  So that's Helsinki in a nutshell, it really exceeded my expectations.  Next stop- Tallinn, Estonia!

Before coming abroad I never thought “Wow, I would love to go to Estonia one day!” but I am so glad my program included Tallinn in our excursion, I would never have ventured to this country otherwise.  To give a brief description of what the city is like, think of an old medieval town with cobblestone paths, huge stone wall fortresses, and a large town square.  That’s Tallinn. 

As soon as I entered the Old Town, I felt like I was back in time.  Estonians are proud of their history and will never miss a chance to tell you all about it.  They love to talk about their independence and how the inventors of Skype are from Tallinn!

On my first day in the city, we went out to lunch in Town Square with my entire study abroad group (about 20 of us).  The meal was included with the excursion, and one of the best I’ve had in awhile.  Here’s a picture of the 3 courses we were served, all of them equally mouthwatering.  

After waddling back to the hotel and resting for a bit, it was time to go back out.  We went to a bar called Hell Hunt that had a basement area big enough to fit all 20 of us.  We all got drinks and played darts, (I got a bullseye!) it was a lot of fun hanging out with everyone and just having a good time. 
Night out in Tallinn with my girls!

The next morning a few of us went to explore a large concrete structure in front of our hotel.  I’m not sure what this area was used for, (someone said it was a gathering place for the town) but we walked up to the top of it.  This is what we found. 
Every inch of this area was covered in graffiti, so of course I had to pose for a picture…
"Graffiti is not a crime, its art" 

After exploring the graffiti park, we went into Old Town to see more of the sights.  Along the street, artists were displaying their paintings on the 13th century stonewalls, vendors were selling candied almonds and mulled wine, and musicians lined the streets playing for coins.  Katie and I ordered a bowl of elk soup (no spoons allowed!) where we drank it in the town square, while a knight in full armor milled around.  Once again, I had gone back in time.  
Knight in Town Square
  My favorite part of this walk around Old Town was getting to a lookout point of the entire city.

Enjoying the view!
 I also picked up a few souvenirs!  Estonian wool is very popular, they have handmade wool sweaters, hats, scarves, socks, mittens, you name it.  Here’s a picture of what these wool vendors look like! 
7-hour train ride later, and I’m back in St. Petersburg sitting in class.  I had a great time visiting Helsinki, Finland and Tallinn, Estonia.  A quick thank you to my AIFS study abroad leaders for organizing such a great trip and making sure we get the most out of every place we visit!  The next post is going to be my top 10 favorite things about Russia, so keep a look out for that…Only 25 days left here…Until next time        

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