A Travellerspoint blog

August 2012

Helsinki

Baltic Tour - Helsinki

rain 14 °C
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On the final full day, we awoke to realise that as my sister is just 14, she actually needed a letter from our mum stating it was ok to travel by ferry with the company we bought our tickets, as well as not actually being able to travel with a brother or sister below age 15. However as we had bought our tickets in advance and had the day planned, we decided to act as if we didn't know and try our luck. Once we arrived at the Port the lady did ask us for the letter, but I pretended I didn't realise (which an hour before was true) and when I explained she was my sister and if she really wanted she could phone my mum, she said that it was fine. Luckily we were making our way to our final destination - Helsinki in Finland.

The ferry took two hours and we had six hours to see the city before our return to Tallinn. As our levels of exhaustion were getting higher and higher, we decided to try and make it as stress free as possible - and with the weather also pretty gloomy, we decided to cut out our visit to the fortress island, and just walk around the centre of Helsinki itself.

Temppeliaukio Church

Temppeliaukio Church

Starting at the port we walked towards the Temppeliaukio Church, which was carved into the rock, before heading north towards the Olympic stadium, and then back down to the train station, and cathedral square.

Helsinki Cathedral

Helsinki Cathedral

The city itself was the largest since Vilnius, and we saw many churches as well as the old market place before heading back to the ferry port and eventually bed. The last day of our trip was a simple journey to Tallinn Airport and eventually home.

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Finland Tagged church city baltic Comments (0)

Tallinn

Baltic Tour - Tallinn

overcast 15 °C
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After a day in Riga, the next morning we woke and boarded our four hour coach that would take us to Tallinn by early afternoon.

City Walls

City Walls

Once we arrived at our hostel, we spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening walking around the centre of Tallinn seeing the sights like the Town Hall and the city walls. The centre itself is very small, which was great as we had a very short amount of time in the city.

Town Hall Square

Town Hall Square

After seeing buildings many centuries old, our last sight was the "Linnahall", a Soviet built concert hall on the edge of the sea. Once you climb up the steps on top of the building, you get a great view of the Gulf of Tallinn and can see all the ships leaving the country.

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Estonia Tagged history city old baltic Comments (0)

Rīga

Baltic Tour - Rīga


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After arriving by minibus in Riga, we decided to go for dinner only, and leave the sightseeing for the next day as we had more than a full day in the city. After having a busy few days we also decided that we would have a lie in and take our time - however the next morning, my sister, for the first time in her life, voluntarily got up at 8:30am rather than the 11am we had agreed and we were already in the city when our alarms we had set went off!

Freedom Monument

Freedom Monument

We started the day by walking along the edge of the old city walls, from where we were staying, in the market area, towards the Freedom monument and Laima clock tower.

Laima Tower

Laima Tower

Afterwards we went towards the river, visiting the castle area, before coming back across the centre of the city. However by this time it was only 2pm, and so perhaps we should have stayed in bed! We therefore decided to go back to our hostel and rest before going for dinner and another early night before our coach to Estonia the next day.

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Latvia Tagged history city baltic Comments (0)

Hill of Crosses

Baltic Tour - Šiauliai

sunny 20 °C
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The final day in Lithuania was also the most stressful. Much like the previous day, we had to get up early and take one of the few trains that ran to the city of Šiauliai, in northern Lithuania. From there we took a local bus, which ran just once an hour to the middle of nowhere. It is made even easier by the fact that very few people in this place knew English, and we unsurprisingly didn't know Lithuanian or Russian. But nevertheless we succeeded in our plan, with a helping hand (well, eye wink) from a local who understood our plan, and we made it to the Hill of Crosses.

Hill of Crosses

Hill of Crosses

The hill is a pilgrimage site for Christians, and contains more than 200,000 crosses of varying sizes. Three times in its history it has been destroyed, but each time it has been rebuilt. Once there the site was full with tourists, however most of whom had arrived on coach trips (a pity that with a bit better infrastructure many more people like us could also visit). We also decided that as we had quite a few Litas left over we would purchase a Cross and place it with a message on the hill.

Afterwards we made our long way back to the bus stop to wait for the bus, where we met a couple from Huddersfield - although my sister didn't understand anything they said, and it turns out they were doing the reverse of what we were..and were on their way to Vilnius from Riga and the rest of the Baltic states.

Once we made it back to the centre of Šiauliai, we decided to buy with the rest of the Lithuanian money we had left, food for breakfast and lunch in our next destinations - however miscounting exactly how much we had at the end meant at the tills we were short by 8 sentimas (about 2p), which luckily we let off for before boarding our minibus to Riga.

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Lithuania Tagged history cross baltic Comments (0)

Klaipėda

Baltic Tour - Klaipėda

sunny 17 °C
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As there was only three trains a day to out next destination - Klaipėda, at the inconvenient times of 6am, 9am and 5pm each day - which would cause a problem if we were to miss it. Luckily our alarms didn't fail us, as we took the 5 hour train across the entire country to the city on the Baltic Sea. Arriving in the early afternoon, we had just a few hours to enjoy the city before sleeping as this was our only time in the city. Unfortunately we missed our ferry crossing, and had to wait an hour, but we rearranged our day instead so it wasn't a problem.

After two days of McDonalds, in Klaipėda this was not an option for us, so instead we bought dinner in a lovely supermarket going by the name of 'Iki' where they too have the same woman trapped inside the self service machines shouting "Problem in the bagging area" as in our own ASDA shops. We then took the food with us as we made our way to the beach.

Curonian Spit

Curonian Spit

After taking the short ferry across the river, we found ourselves on the Curonian Spit, one of the longest spits in the world and then we walked across the spit, which had become forested for 15 minutes before finding what can only be described as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It was so sandy and from where we were, we could just see the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

Curonian Spit Beach

Curonian Spit Beach

And on our way back to the apartment, we went looking for Klaipėd'a "top sight" - the tiny mouse that was about 10cm tall. Hunting around the streets trying to find it, we eventually found it right in front of our faces!

The Tiny Mouse

The Tiny Mouse

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Lithuania Tagged sea forest baltic Comments (0)