Helsinki and Oulu = More coffee!☕️

On Wednesday, we woke up, showered and headed out into Helsinki once again. The first place we visited was the Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral – it was absoluetely beautiful! The inside didn’t have any pews, but it was covered in candles and religious artwork!

We left there and wondered around by the waters edge into a different area of Helsinki…although we’re not really sure where we were. All we know is that there was nothing of interest there! We then walked back through the outdoor market and explored more of Helsinki. It started to rain, so just off Senate Square, we found a cute little cafe tucked away, that was reasonably cheap; I ordered a hot chocolate and Alfie ordered an Argentinian Mocha…It’s safe to say we both thoroughly enjoyed them and they’d disappeared in no time at all! 

Once we’d left the cafe, we headed to a supermarket and bought finnish pastries to snack on then, and snakcs for later on with dinner. When we got back to the apartment, we chilled watching the TV (notice a pattern here through these posts?), had dinner and decided to sleep. 

On our final day in Helsinki, we started the day off by visiting the ‘Temppeliaukio Church’ (aka the Rock Church). This is a round church that has been built into the ground, and it was absolutely beautiful! The atmosphere was also added to as there was a pianist playing during our time in the church! 

We left here and once again it decided to rain…Despite this, we carried on and decided to head back to the same cafe as the day before (we just liked it that much!). Once again I ordered a hot chocolate because it was so good, whilst Alfie ordered a standard mocha. Once again, they were delicious! After leaving there, we headed to the supermarket and bought more food for our overnight bus journey, and then went back to the apartment to pack. The host had been kind enough to let us have a 5pm checkout because of our late departure from Helsinki; this meant we didn’t have to carry our bags around with us all day!

We went and packed up, made sure we had everything (we really are trying to avoid leaving anymore folders or shampoo anywhere) and ‘checked out’, before heading to Espresso House (another coffee shop…) to pass the time before finding dinner.  

After spending a good hour or two in Espresso House, we went to McDonalds and had dinner there…It was the cheapest option! We managed to kill a good few hours in there, which meant we had less time to then wait around outside. However, we then had to find where our bus was due in the bus station. We must have walked up and down the bus station’s different floors about 4 times, until eventually we found the correct place!

Our bus turned up, and at 11:59 we started our long over night journey to Oulu…a place we knew nothing about!

When we arrived in Oulu at 8 something in the morning, we then had the difficult task of finding our next AirBnb…however it was further out of the city than we thought! After a 30 minute walk we finally found it! When we arrived, our host met us out the front of his ground floor apartment and showed us around his place. However, there was a slight language barrier, as he didn’t speak or understand much English!

We napped for a few hours and then our host brought us in our clean bedding that he had provided…Children’s football and cat bedding…! We watched some Catfish (we clearly love our American TV) and then walked to the local supermarket to get dinner. When we got back, we wanted to cook our pizza and garlic bread, however the host had a friend round so we waited for them to finish in the kitchen rather than interrupting them!

We finally made dinner, and realised, that although the host lives in this house, his kitchen is absolutely bare, with only the bare minimum utensils available! After eating our food (which luckily didn’t need to be eaten with knives and forks), we watched ‘Death in Paradise’ before having a long sleep! 

We woke up this morning, and went into Oulu…which much to our delight was a 40 minute long walk! The first thing we did was head to a market and an indoor food market where we we went to a cafe (once again), where I ordered another hot chocolate and Alfie ordered an espresso macchiato…once again they were delightful! On the way here, we got a message from our AirBnb host saying that he had gone to his native home in Russia so we would have the place to ourselves…Needless to say we were a bit shocked as we’d seen him that morning and he had not said a word! After our coffee we did some exploring, and managed to get ourselves onto another island which featured a castle ruin and a stadium. 

We chilled for a while and then decide to head to Lidl and pick up dinner and some finnish pastries, and then to head back to the flat! 

We are now about to eat a Macaroni al forno dish with garlic bread…Hopefully we have enough utensils for this one! 

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Stockholm, Turku and Helsinki: Non-stop Adventure!

On Sunday morning we woke up and headed down for breakfast on the boat; it was extremely busy! We managed to queue up and toast our bread, before I spread mine with butter and jam and Alfie covered his with cheese, and (what he thought was) pate. We poured glasses of apple juice and sat down on some free chairs with an elderly swedish gentleman who chatted to us about everything and anything (including Princess Diana, World War 2, how he worked on the boat when it was a cruise ship 30 years ago, his brother-in-law being from York, and whether Alfie and I have children of our own, urm…..)! Alfie then poured us some coffee which was way too strong for me to drink! When we got back to our room, we researched ‘Scandinavian breakfasts’ on Google…It turns out, what Alfie thought was pate was actually a fish spread like caviar (only not so posh), and that Scandinavians absolutely love to start their day with a strong coffee…I think I’ll stick to good old ‘Yorkshire Tea’!😂

After a quick shower, we headed into Stockholm and explored properly, noticing all of the building work going on – unfortunately it put us off a bit! A big marching band with an army escort went past us near the Royal Palace, past a lot of coach tours! We decided to try and find somewhere cheap for lunch, however after walking around the Old Town (Gamla Stan) too many times, at nearly 3pm we ended up at McDonalds with a Share Box, a Fanta and a Frozen Strawberry Lemonade (fast food seems to be the cheapest thing to eat in Scandinavia). 

We then decided to head back to the Old Town and bought ice cream’s with fresh hand-made cones (Alfie had salted caramel, whislt I had my favourite mint chocolate ice cream). It then started to rain so we hopped into the ‘Coop’ supermarket and bought some snacks to tide us over in the boat and on the ferry the next day. 

After quickly scouting out where we had to go for the ferry the next day (in the rain), we went back to the boat and had a drink in the sky bar. However, my heavenly cocktail essentially cost £11…no more cocktails for me in Scandinavia! 

By the time we got back to the room, we packed and then fell asleep as we had to be up at 6:15am in the morning.

On Monday morning, we woke up, quickly got ready and headed to breakfast for when it started at 6:30am. We quickly ate, collected our stuff from our room and checked out all before 6:45am ready for our ferry crossing to Turku. 

When we got onto the ferry cruise, our cabin room was so much nicer than the one in the hotel, we didn’t want to leave at the end of the 11 hours! After a few hours nap and showers, we went and found food for lunch. We went to a restaurant where I had a big beef burger with crispy bacon and lots of cheese and salad and some amazing chips (my brother definitely would have ordered the same thing) whilst Alfie ordered a mushroom and chorizo pasta…we both throroughly enjoyed our food!

After a quick walk around the boat, we went back to our cabin and watched some TV (couldn’t miss ‘Gordon Ramseys Kitchen Nightmares’…)! We then checked the entertainment schedule and decided to go to their nightclub bar/lounge and Alfie had a beer whilst I had a chocolate milkshake mocktail which was absolute heaven, whilst watching a live band! 

When it was time to leave the boat, we vacated our cabin and stood on a side deck watching all the islands whilst docking. We then had to get the bus into Turku centre, as instructed by our next AirBnb Host. We easily found his apartment and he met us outside. However, by the time we arrived we were very tired so we went to bed, especially as we’d lost an hour extra of our day (Finland are 2 hours ahead of the UK and 1 hour ahead of the other places we’ve visited), and had to be up at 5:30am!

When we woke up this morning, we met our AirBnb host outside the apartment just before 6am, as he had agreed to walk us to the bus station to catch our bus to Helsinki. When he left us, we carried on walking following his instructions, however, Alfie suddenly realised we’d left our folder in his AirBnb which had all our travel tickets/documents in it, as well as Alfie’s post cards. We finally managed to get through to the host and explained and he said he’d gone out of town on his bike but he would try to get it to us. We showed our ticket to the driver through Alfie’s emails and put our luggage on the bus, with 5 minutes spare before the bus was due to leave, when I saw a guy on a bike speeding towards us…it was our host! The guy had managed to get it to us! We were incredibly grateful!

When we arrived in Helsinki we had a few hours free before check in time, so the first thing we did was find a cafe and have a drink and cake. I ordered myself a hot chocolate, Alfie a salted caramel latte, and then we had a chocolate muffin each. We then went for a short walk and came across a small park, so we sat in the sun. What we’ve noticed though, is that many young girls in Scandinavia like to go to parks and sunbathe in bikinis’s – it’s not even overly warm!

After killing some time, we walked to our new AirBnb where the woman met us outside at check-in time. We dropped our stuff off in the room and waited for a storm to die down before going back into Helsinki. We then explored and found one of their beautiful cathedral’s, a big market, and an outdoor swimming pool with beautiful views out over the sea. We both fell in love with Helsinki, and would put it up there with our favourite places visited so far, along with Copenhagen! 

Before heading back to the AirBnb, we went to Lidl and bought dinner and snacks to cover a few days. We’ve now finished dinner and are watching a film before having a long well-deserved sleep!

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