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Getting from Prague to Helsinki was an all-day affair.
When I originally planned this 30-day adventure around Europe, I had a nice, neat direct flight from Prague on Czech Airlines. It would have taken a mere 2 hours and gotten me into Helsinki with the better part of the day left to sightsee.
Unfortunately, by the time I got around to booking it, the flight had gone up to more then $600! So, I had to get creative with my flights. This involved a train ride from Prague and then a connecting flight into Helsinki.
It saved me more than $450 but it meant I didn’t arrive in Helsinki until late that night.
After a long travel day, I finally land in Helsinki at 11pm. At this time of the night, I don’t generally fuss with public transportation. So I grab a cab outside the terminal and arrive at the swanky Hotel Kamp just before midnight.
The historic Hotel Kamp
The famed Hotel Kamp is a Luxury Collection property, so luckily I was able to use a combination of cash and points for my one night stay. Otherwise, this hotel would have been a serious budget-buster.
The hotel is beautiful and my “Executive Room” is absolutely lovely. I buy a glass of wine in the bar and head upstairs to get a little work done. My work e-mails have been piling up all day and though it’s after midnight here, it’s still business hours back in the States.
I finally turn in around 2am and set the alarm for 7am. I’m determined to make the most of my one day in Helsinki.
Sadly, the weather does not cooperate. I awake at 7am to a steady rain outside my 8th floor windows. Since nobody wants to be a tourist in the rain, I roll over and go back to sleep. I wake up again at 9am and it’s still raining.
Time to go be a tourist in the rain.
A Rainy Stroll thru Helsinki
Thankfully, fine hotel that it is, the Hotel Kamp provides umbrellas in every room.
So, I grab my umbrella and head out into the rain. My first stop is the ferry terminal to book my ticket to Tallinn, Estonia for later today.
I hoped to book a 5pm or 6pm ferry but the only options are 4pm or 8pm, so I book the 4pm. That leaves me about 6 hours to see the rest of Helsinki.
The Kauppahalli Central Market
From the ferry terminal, I head next door to the Kauppahalli central market to see what a Finnish market has to offer. And to get some breakfast.
It’s much smaller than most of the big city central markets I’ve seen but there are lots of interesting food choices.
I want to branch out and try something different so I opt for a type of sandwich called “lihis.” There are several options including (yikes!) reindeer, but I go with the safer kebab. It was actually quite tasty though I remain a bit unsettled about the “Rudolph” option.
Next up, a walk over to the harbor and a visit to the Russian Orthodox Uspensky Cathedral on Katajanokka Island.
The harbor is bursting with yachts and sailboats, none of which are sailing on a lousy day like today. But it makes for a beautiful view against the colorful buildings lining the shore.
On my way to my final stop for the day, I stumble upon a lively outdoor market. It’s packed full of shoppers despite the inclement weather. They have some nice souvenir options so I do a little shopping (very little…luggage space is at a premium, you know!).
From there, I walk through Esplanade Park to my destination, the Tuomiokirkko Cathedral and Helsinki’s majestic central square.
Built in 1852, the square was modeled after St. Petersburg’s central square. It is enormous – and full of tour buses. So, I make quick visit, take some pictures and head back to the hotel.
Once again, it’s time to pack up and head to my next stop. Off to the ferry terminal…Estonia awaits!