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Day 3: Helsinki and Suomenlinna

Our flight back to the UK isn't until 19.30 this evening, so we had pretty much a full day to spend in Finland. After getting our money's worth from the hotel breakfast, we checked out and headed to the main station in Turku, where we had booked tickets on a train to Helsinki at 09.25. We were there on plenty of time, so the journey was a lot less stressful than it had been on Saturday! Two hours later, we stepped off the train into a Helsinki which was much warmer and sunnier than on previous occasions when we have visited it en route to Lapland :)


The train station itself is quite an impressive building...


...with a big clock tower.


Last time we were here we had to walk carefully so as not to slip over on the ice. We didn't have that problem today, and made fast progress towards the Orthodox cathedral.


It's a really beautiful building, situated at the top of a big rock.


Helsinki's Lutheran cathedral wasn't far away either.


This one looked particularly beautiful with a bright blue sky behind it.


It was an awful lot busier here today than in December though; there were hordes of coach parties in the square in front of the cathedral.


It was after midday by this point, so we found an Italian restaurant not far from the square where we were able to get a quick pizza (for €13 each!) and then set off towards Helsinki's market square, from where we were planning to catch a boat to Suomenlinna.


Suomenlinna is a sea fortress, built on islands just off the coast from Helsinki. The boat journey only cost €7 return, which seemed quite reasonable by Finnish standards, and took around half an hour. We had some great views of Helsinki as the boat pulled out of the harbour :)


At one point we could see both of the cathedrals :)


It wasn't long before we were approaching the coast of the island.


Construction of the fortress here started in the eighteenth century, at which point Finland was still part of Sweden.


The fortress was intended to help protect against possible Russian invasion.


The fortress was eventually besieged by Russian forces in 1808 and surrendered.


The boat which we arrived on had been really full, but as soon as we started exploring the island we found that we lost people very quickly.


We followed little paths around the coast and had some wonderful views.


I was particularly excited when I realised that we could see back to Helsinki clearly enough to identify the Lutheran cathedral on the skyline.


The island isn't just full of fortifications; we found a couple of residential areas full of houses.


It was a really beautiful place, but we had to be careful not to wander so far that we missed the boat we needed back to the mainland.


There was just time for one more stroll beside the sea, before it was time to head back.


After another half an hour on the boat, we could see Helsinki approaching again.


I had already pre-purchased our tickets for the airport bus, which at €6.90 each feel like an absolute bargain compared to the cost of the airport bus that we'll be taking in Iceland next week xD We  made it back to the airport with plenty of time to make use of the surprisingly fast Wi-Fi to update the blog. Luckily this flight doesn't seem to be delayed and if all goes well we should be home before midnight.

Despite all the hassle on the way here, it's been a fun weekend and really interesting to explore a bit more of Finland :) 

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