Estonia + Finland

Wow! It’s been a while since I’ve posted! Sorry about that….After arriving in Barcelona to study Spanish for 4 months I got immersed with my day-to-day life and decided to stop posting on here. But I’M BACK! I’m also going to try a different posting style to see if I like it better.

City: Tallinn, Estonia

How long: 3 days

Accommodation:

I stayed in Red Emperor Bar&Hostel, which was right outside the walled in Old City. It was a perfect location and was easy to get to from the bus I took from the Tallinn Airport. The rooms itself were fairly basic but had everything you needed. The only issue I really had was that the lockers provided in the rooms were too small to fit my bag so I had to remove my valuables from my bag instead of just being able to put all my stuff securely away. I tend to find that people don’t go through your stuff though so I wasn’t too worried about people stealing my clothes. The hostel had coed bathrooms but this wasn’t an issue for me. The hostel also had a kitchen so I prepared most of my meals there. There was a bar attached to the hostel which had some activities most nights. I only went for one of the activities which was a trivia night. I was lucky to find a pair of girls (British + German) who let me join their team. We didn’t win but the British girl, Katharine, and I hit it off so we planned to meet for dinner one of the other nights I was there. She also gave me some recommendations for places to go which was great! Overall the hostel was fairly empty, meaning it wasn’t very social which is tough on solo travelers. But I don’t think this is the hostels fault, it was more a by-product of it being January in Estonia. Not exactly prime time for travel in Estonia!

Where to Eat:

As I said I mostly cooked my meals in the hostel to save money, but I did go to a pancake restaurant at the recommendation of Katharine. Kompressor was within the Old City and is definitely worth a visit. It was delicious! The pancakes were sort of thick crepes and there must have been 30 different types. I ended up with bacon, egg, and cheese–my favorite combo. Definitely recommend a stop here during a visit to Tallinn.

Another restaurant that was good was Must Puudel. I had a burger that was awesome and Katharine had the steak, which she raved about.

On the way to Must Puudel, Katharine had actually wanted to go to Popular but it was too full. The place looked super cute and trendy so this would be another spot to try.

What to do:

The first full day I was there I went on a free walking tour, which left from the tourism office within the Old City. It was about 2 hours long and took us through the history of Tallinn/Estonia, which is quite long as I found out! We walked all around the city and saw some great views and some very old buildings. During the tour I met an Aussie and we decided to get some hot chocolate after the tour because we both froze our butts off during the tour. Highly recommend approximately 16 layers of clothing if going on a walking tour during January in Estonia!

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Overlooking the Old City

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From a different view point

The next day I headed out on my own and just walked around the Old City, popping into shops and exploring some of the old walls and buildings. It’s so different from walking around cities in the US!

Overall thoughts:

I really liked Tallinn and would love to come back during the summer when it’s easier to spend time outside. I’m sure it would be beautiful. Also the hostel would probably be more social and fun during the summer. Definitely recommend a visit to Tallinn if you get the chance. Also Estonia is super cheap, which was great on my budget before heading to the EXPENSIVE Finland!

City: Helsinki, Finland

How long: 3 days

Accommodation:

I stayed at Hostel Diana Park, which was fairly centrally located. I took the ferry from Tallinn and was able to walk about 20 minutes from the port to the hostel. Easy when all you have is a backpack. When I arrived before check-in time, they were nice enough to let me into my room early because I was super tired. I took a quick nap and then a British guy showed up in the room so I ended up talking to him for a while. He was about to take a train from St. Petersburg all the way to China! That is practically halfway across the world! Then he heads to Australia, South America and eventually the States! It’s going to be a bout a 2 year trip he said. Pretty cool. The room was fairly basic and the bathrooms were TINY, but again not really an issue for me. There was a kitchen so I was able to save money by buying groceries and cooking for myself because Finland is SO expensive. Again, however, because it’s winter in Finland, there weren’t many guests and there wasn’t much social interaction at the hostel. I did run into the Aussie I had lunch with in Tallinn and he was actually staying in my room!! Coincidences like this happen a lot when traveling for a while I find.

Where to Eat:

Because it was so expensive to eat out in Finland I ended up cooking most of my meals, however, I did go to breakfast at Café Engel. It was good but nothing spectacular. Also, it was about 16$ for some eggs, toast, and an OJ so that ended my attempts at eating out.

What to do:

I walked around Helsinki for about 2 hours on my first full day and saw the Uspenki Cathedral which was quite beautiful. Also the Helsinki Cathedral, which is the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran cathedral, was stunning on the cloudy day I saw it.

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Helsinki Cathedral

The highlight of my trip to Helsinki was actually not Helsinki itself. It was a town about 45 minutes away, which I went for a day trip on my last day there. The name of the town is Porvoo. It is one of the quaintest towns I have ever seen with all of its buildings painted in different colors. I REALLY enjoyed my time there.

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The colorful houses!

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Porvoo

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Next to the church

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Exploring the site where a medieval castle used to stand

Overall thoughts:

I didn’t love Helsinki, in fact I was supposed to stay longer but with the short days and lack of sun, I was starting to feel depressed so I decided to head to Barcelona a few days earlier than scheduled! I really regret not going to the northern part of Finland instead of Helsinki so that at least I would have been able to see the Northern Lights and maybe a reindeer or two, but it just means I have to come back! However, I really liked going to Porvoo, although it only requires a day so it wouldn’t make sense to stay overnight there. Also it was super cold in Finland, so again bring layers upon layers.

Now off to Spain because I can’t seem to stay away for too long 🙂

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