Sailing South Along the Gulf of Finland
It's been a warm sunny summer in Helsinki and by 9:00am the city was bustling with activity. While old trolleys ambled beside swiftly moving trams, people everywhere seemed to head to the esplanade where street entertainers were out in full force. High on a hill with onion domes that gleam the sunlight is the Russian Orthodox Church, Upenski. Built in 1868 for the Russian military when Finland was part of Russia, it stands in sharp contrast to the Lutheran Church because of the ornate decorations.
Down by the harbor the market place was busy. Booths sold everything from colorful Marimekko style bags to fruits and vegetables. On display were plump peas bursting out of their shells side by side with tables piled high with farm fresh blueberries and strawberries which were scooped into baskets with plastic sand pail shovels. Salmon fillets sizzled on the grill with stacks of fresh shrimp and scallops.
All too soon it was time to head to our ferry to Estonia. The woman at our hotel told us we needed to just walk down the street and the pier would be right there, but it turned out to be a 25 minute hike with luggage. I would recommend to anyone going there that they take a taxi.
Our Tallink ship, Super Star, was enormous. We were struck by how clean, modern, and up to date everything was for only a two hour voyage. We scored a locker and could not believe our luck when we found chairs outside in the shade.
The medieval section of Tallinn is wonderful. Our hotel is right in the heart of the old town and was once a bank. Outside we followed the sweet savory smell of cinnamon to a cart where a girl dressed in medieval costume mixed almonds and spices in a copper pot with a large wooden spoon. Others also dressed in costume enticed people to come to their restaurants, yet among all this old time ambiance, Segways cross crossed to and fro across the cobblestone village square.
After a complimentary dinner at the hotel, we stopped by a German Style beer hall where a Bavarian traditional band played songs ranging from Roll Out the Barrel to Auld Lang Syne while couples danced. We hoped to get a snack, but decided to pass on the snacks offered which included roasted chicken gizzards. It's now past midnight and we're back at the hotel, but outside the square is alive with activity. Sounds like fun, but we'll wait until tomorrow to check it out.