Stockholm to the Baltics – Part 3 Tallinn to Helsinki

Estonia / Finland / Helsinki / Stockholm / Tallinn | August 8, 2013

A mere two hours links Estonia and Finland, across the Baltic. The ferry terminal in Tallinn is very close to the old town and check in for the short crossing is just 30 minutes before departure which allows you to maximise your exploring time in the Estonian capital.

On the ship I was booked in Star Class, the open seating option, which was comfortable enough as the ship was not busy and I had plonked myself at a table at the café on board. There are three additional options to make the crossing more comfortable, namely; Comfort Class, Business Class or you can book a cabin – which is a little extreme on such a quick trip! With Comfort class you get a private area on the ship with free soft drinks and tea and coffee and light snacks. With Business Class you are in a swisher lounge and alcohol is included in the price, judging by the number of inebriated people getting off the short crossing, Business Class was popular…..

In Helsinki the ships from Tallinn arrive a little out of town but this is no great inconvenience as taxis (not at Stockholm prices!!) are readily available and you can also take the tram number 9 from the ferry port to the centre of town at the railway station. Tickets for this cost €2.80 and can be bought from the driver, so all in all quite easy.

For my night in Helsinki I decided to stay at the Holiday Inn at the railway station and had a view of the trains from my bedroom, not everyone’s idea of a view but for me it was perfect. The location is good as it really is the transport hub of Helsinki, you can get the bus to the airport as well as trains throughout the country and international services such as those to St Petersburg and Moscow. Don’t forget you need a visa for these though.Talking of Russia and visas, there is a way to visit visa free and that is to take one of the ferries from Helsinki to St Petersburg and join their city tours. As you are part of a ferry group you will not need to go through the hassle of getting a visa. The only downside is that you cannot leave the group.

After a couple of hours of aimless wandering around Helsinki I decided to call it a day and popped into a supermarket to get provisions for dinner in my room. Finland can be quite pricey….. in fact so pricey that 1 and 2 cent coins are not accepted in Finland.

Now for the final part of the Baltic jigsaw: I was up early again and heading on a double decker train from Helsinki to Turku, or as the Swedish speaking population would say Helsingfors to Abo. Throughout Finland, the train announcements are made in Finnish and Swedish and on the long distance trains in English as well. A couple of hours’ train ride through a scenery of trees, more trees and yet more trees found me in Turku.

The train ran to the station at Turku harbour so it was a very simple process to get to the check in for the ship, less than a 5 minute walk, partly covered, which will be useful in winter. A very quick check in procedure and I boarded the ship and made my way to cabin 9319, a deluxe cabin. As this was a day time crossing the supplement to get a cabin is very reasonable. In the deluxe cabin, a complimentary mini bar is included with prosecco, beers and soft drinks. As I had had an early start, I took 40 winks and two hours later woke up in the Baltic, not literally of course.

Lunchtime quickly came and I had been recommended to dine at the Happy Lobster, a bit of an odd name as the lobsters that were on the seafood buffet looked less than happy…. But tasted great! A very decent glass of Champagne started the meal off, the house Champagne of the ship, and for a starter I had lobster followed by a salmon dish rounded off with a rhubarb compote and coffee. The bill was €46, which for what I ate and drank was quite reasonable.

I am now signing off for this trip as we are about to dock in Stockholm where I will not be taking a taxi, (see my first post of this trip) but rather will be taking the metro. One tip is that you cannot buy single tickets for public transport at metro stations or on board buses and can only buy them from shops, such as the ubiquitous Presbyran chain.The metro, or more correctly, the Tunnelbana, will take me from just by the port to the Central Station and then I have a short walk to the Sheraton Hotel.

In summary this exploration of the Baltic was fun and informative and I would highly recommend it, with the exception perhaps of the long train and somewhat uncomfortable Riga to Tallinn.