Winter is coming.
Fun fact: there is no snow in UK! Further north in Edinburgh or sometimes Manchester, but certainly not in Surrey, what we have here is fog, mist and rain! Well, UK’s weather is never been predictable, so I still wish for snowfall in Surrey, despite how little the chance will be.
So, winter trip to Finland was decided.
Flight ticket was booked about 6 months prior departure, but tickets was still expensive and the train tickets towards Lapland as well as the glass igloos. (Lesson learned: it is a marketing strategy by hotels, try to book a refundable hotel room from AirBnB or Booking.com first, then keep checking the website everyday that whether the glass igloos resort start releasing room.) So I ended up booking with AirBnb.
Anyhow, we did not manage to go all the way up North to Rovaniemi. I changed the plan to explore everything near Helsinki, and get very very CHILL after the maniac first semester.
Day -1 24th Dec Christmas Dinner
Due to heavy fog, the flight got delayed and it was already dark when I arrived in Helsinki. It is only 5pm by the way. Bought some groceries on the way as the second day is 25th the Christmas Day, which means no shops opening. To my surprise, there was dinner well prepared from a French couple staying there. A proper 3-course-Christmas meal, and I was invited to join them! Within hours, we became so close with all those light-hearted conversations and exchanging our cultural differences. But there is a dish with anchovies!!! So homie that I miss nasi lemak so so much!!! Great food led to great deep sleep though.
Day -2 25th Dec Tallinn, Estonia
Headed to Tallinn, Estonia. It is the capital and largest city of Estonia, but gives the feeling of a small town with rich culture. One of the fun facts that drew my attention is the name changing process. Kolyvan (which may have come from the Estonian mythical hero Kalev) >Lindanisa (derived from Linda, the mythical wife of Kalev and the mother of Kalevipoeg, who in an Estonian legend carried rocks to her husband’s grave, which formed the Toompea hill) > Reval (after the Danish conquest in 1219) > Tallinn (means Danish town) .
Tallinn’s Old Town is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is usually known as the Silicon Valley of Europe, it has the highest number of startups per person in Europe. Not to mention that it is also a birthplace of Skype!
As it was Christmas, there were no any museums opened but there was the Christmas market! Woohoo! There were performance, food, hot wine, and a lot of craft stalls. After being blown by cold breeze for 3 hours ferry (why did I choose to stand at the deck **cry cry**), hot food and wine were not options but compulsories! Most of the time spent was just wandering around the old town, looking at the medieval architecture, and taking a lot of photos. Then headed back to Helsinki again after 6 hours spent in Tallinn.
Day- 3 26th Dec HIGHLIGHT of the trip!
Was expecting a heavy snowfall from the weather forecast therefore started the morning by jogging along the coastline and cross the winter bridge connecting to a small island called Uunisaari. Unfortunately, the strong wind appeared to shift the snow cloud away from Helsinki. == But starting a day with healthy jog and breakfast kinda unique and satisfying.
Highlight of the trip >>>> sauna and ice swimming!!!
While waiting for bus to Cafe Kuusijärvi for that, I took some time to explore the market square of Helsinki. Not a lot of people around but there is full rays of sunshine! Well, I don’t think I will be so excited to see the Sun in Malaysia, but yes, in UK and Europe, the whole world celebrates when the sun is out! Anyway, back to the point, one is not considered been to Finland without trying sauna. Nearly suffocated in the high temperature of sauna, I thought I am almost cooked! I bet it was almost 60 degree Celcius in that room! The moment I stepped out from the room, I gave a deep relieving sigh. Scorching hot, sweating, and soooooooooo comfortable. That detoxified feeling! I headed straight to the icy lake for a swim. Not surprisingly, I screamed in cold. I could feel the coldness priced through my skin and straight deep into the bone! Without hesitating, I picked up my fastest speed back to sauna to get some warmth. Yes, after coming back from ice swimming, the scorching hot temperature was considered as WARM, only.Repeated it a few time alternatively, sauna > swim > sauna >swim. It is literally the Song of Ice & Fire.
Day- 4 27th Dec Suomenlinna
If you google Helsinki, Suomenlinna will definitely come up as an associate word. Since it is so near to Helsinki, why not?
Suomenlinna or Sveaborg, which means Castle of Finland, until 1918 Viapori, is an inhabited sea fortress built on six islands and which now forms part of the city of Helsinki, the capital of Finland. It went through the wars and ruling from Sweden, Finnish and Russian. Not going to tell you too much of its history as you might get bored and it is worth to explore by yourself as well! The gnome trails, the museums, the fortress, and you will see a huge submarine too! Ancient objects are just objects if you don’t see the meaning behind it. **acting philosopher** LOL. In short, beautiful place.
Day- 5 28th Dec Back to Guildford
Having a wonderful and chillax enough days in Helsinki, I felt contented and recharged for the coming exams. On the other side, I am already planning to visit Yllas, Finland for northern lights before April. If only I can manage my assessments at the same time. Travelling probably my motivation to work harder during semester! Well, that is how I ended my 2016. Let’s get started in the brand new 2017!