Finland, Finland, Finland, the country where I want to beeee!
I'm going to be honest, Finland wasn't amazing to me. Don't get me wrong, its probably an awesome place if you go to the right bits, but unfortunately our tour (Topdeck's Scenic Scandi) really whizzed through it and the majority of our days were spent in the bus driving through thick forests with very little visibility through to anything else.
Our few stops were pretty cool, I'll admit. The first being ''Santa's Village'' which sits on the arctic circle. It's super consumerist and is mostly just trying to sell tourists overpriced things with Finnish flags on them, but it was nice to be able to see the circle on the ground and have some fun running over it repeatedly. We are easily amused.
I also tried some Finnish traditional soup, full of hearty root veg and a bit of reindeer (whilst mostly vegetarian I will make exceptions occasionally when trying new foods in countries I travel to if they have something interesting).
This was about the time in our trip that the weather started playing nice and we got some of the beautiful sunshine that the rest of Europe had been having! At one of our picnics in the sun I started chatting with our tour leader about using reusable plates and cutlery while travelling and she really liked the idea! She's now sent a few pictures of my wee tiffin to the head of catering for the whole of Topdeck! It may not go anywhere at this point, but I am thrilled to think that maybe my efforts will plant the wee green seed of thought in someone's mind and maybe we will see some progress on a larger scale soon. :D
Helsinki was by far the most interesting stop in Finland. I have seen a fair few beautiful churches in my travels, but the Temppeliaukio church, or the 'Rock Church as we called it, was one of the most unique. The church is cut down int the rock and then built up to be even with the rock that was quarried out, and then a glass and copper roof was added. There is water leaking from the walls in some places and it smells delightfully like a cave. I also loved the natural light provided through the glass roof.
Another stop that I loved was the Museum. We weren't there for long, but the main exhibition that was there when we visited was 'HelSEXinki' and it was all about sexuality! I loved reading the stories and quotes that they had gathered about the rainbow community. Some were very sad, as with many collections on the topic, but many were full of hope and love, and I am so glad that these stories are being told.
Helsinki also has a delightful merge between majestic old structures and modern architecture. Many streets and sidewalks are still cobbled, but there are some very striking and angular new buildings growing out of them as well.
Next up on our epic trip - Tallinn, Estonia! I went in with absolutely no expectations, and I think that was the only thing that could make Tallinn MORE magical. The old town was so well preserved I couldn't quite believe I was really there. Gorgeous turrets jutted out all about the place, and old stone streets lead you around taverns and shops that make you feel like a drunken character from Game of Thrones could stumble out at any minute.
Another incredible incident was standing taking in this gorgeous view, pulling out my phone to take a snap, and realising that this very scene is one of my phone screen savers! I can definitely see why.
|One of the more peculiar things I tried was this traditional old brew, a non-alcoholic fermented sweet drink that tasted decidedly malty. I didn't love it, mostly because it smelled a bit like marmite....|
Our meal in Tallinn really took the idea of 'dinner and a show' and went way further with it...a play with full costume and choreographed sword fight broke out in the middle of our meal! It was such good fun.
Next up we hit the town, exploring one of Tallinn's quirkier bars - where all the drinks were served in test tubes and beakers!
Mine were, of course, non alcoholic. I am still going well with my alcohol free year and the bar tenders were lovely and made me some fruit juice test tube shots so I didn't feel left out!
And then we went dancing! It was great, we even got a VIP box, and I danced until 2am before wandering back to the hotel through the gorgeously lit old town streets.
With that concluded our Topdeck tour and we said tearful goodbyes to our fabulous bus buddies the next morning, many of whom were also going their separate ways from here.
It was with a heavy heart (and in my travel companions cases a pounding head) that we flew out of Tallinn, we all wished we had planned an extra day or two there to see more of the gorgeous old town and the more alternative new areas. It's definitely a city I plan to go back to.
Onward though, to World Scout Moot in Iceland! Iceland was one of the main chunks of our trip, and to be honest without it we would never have all managed to organise leaving the country at the same time, in spite of many plans to travel together over the last decade.
Stay tuned for Iceland Adventures with Scouts!
See you somewhere!
Labels: airport, drinking, Estonia, Finland, food, Helsinki, holiday, partying, Scouts, Tallinn, travel, travel photography, wanderlust, zero waste, zerowaste