April 14, 2020
Solo Travel To Clear The Head
Helsinki is a beautiful city with a lot of history. It is home to culture, nature, saunas, activities, a sea fortress and 8 National Parks within a two hour drive. Sounds like heaven, right?
I booked my trip to Helsinki the year before, and it was my last trip before the pandemic. Travelling solo, I packed my bags, checked my kit, grabbed my passport, and headed to the airport!
Land Of A Thousand Lakes
Arriving in Helsinki was... actually a bit disappointing. I loved landing in a foreign and unknown territory. I loved the clean crisp air. But Helsinki in March is meant to be covered in snow with a frozen sea; it's why I booked for March. Instead, thanks to global warming, this wasn't the case.
Never mind. Quickly jumping in the taxi (don't do it! Uber is cheaper!), and quizzing the driver on some crucial lingo (thank you, please, etc.) we drove through the streets to my first night stay, just a hostel. I wasn't excited for this one, it was the Airbnb I couldn't wait to see! Read on or listen to find out!
The hostel was good though. Easy check in, free breakfast. Then I booked the Uber to collect my car rental.
Collecting the car, and boasting about its horsepower to Instagram, I decided to head out to Teijo National Park. When looking at the Finnish National Parks website it is incredible to see just how many National Parks are within a two hour drive of Helsinki!
Arriving at Teijo, I was the only soul there! After checking that it wasn't in some way closed, I decided to take a walk around. See for yourself here:
The park was spectacular. Quiet, fresh, beautiful and I had it all to myself. After taking a quick rest by the frozen lake, I packed up and headed out to the Airbnb. The reason why I was excited? Two words:
This had me hooked since I booked. Not only that, but it had a balcony right next to that not-so-frozen sea that I was excited to experience. If you want to check it out for yourself, you can click here. The hosts were fantastic, and it is a 10 minute walk from the city centre, whilst being right next to a local shop too.
The rest of the night just consisted of getting relaxed and changed, grabbing food (and the world's gift itself: Somersby Apple Cider - Bottled!) and heading out to the city centre. I visited the Allas Outdoor Pool and Sauna (highly recommend, definitely did not steal the towel!). Then, I went to the best Italian restaurant I have had the damn pleasure of eating at and had one of the best red wines. I sat outside with a blanket, drinking an Espresso Martini (or three) at Holiday Bar watching the world go by, and went home to sleep.
A Change Of Plan
The next day I rose early, experiencing sunrise on the balcony at -1 degree Celsius. I'm meant to be driving 6 hours North to Koli National Park today. I had this great idea of watching sunset from the top of this cliff, overlooking flat forest land. I had even researched to make sure it faced West!
But that's the problem with making plans from afar; they often don't stick. Plus, 12 hours total driving - just driving - seemed like a waste of time. It was Day 2 and I had already got the check-in notification for my return flight.
I love a roadtrip and all, but that just seemed crazy.
"It is incredible to see just how many National Parks are within a two hour drive of Helsinki!"
So, over a croissant and coffee, I quickly changed plans. I'd explore Helsinki tomorrow (read on or listen to find out more!) and tick off the two other local National Parks on the list today.
Getting showered, sauna'd, and dressed I grabbed my kit and headed to the car:
You can watch above or listen to the podcast for more info, but this day was a delight. Well, mostly. Life will hit no matter where you are and what you're doing, and my head decided to see the solitude as a chance to go over some less-than-positive things.
You just have to process it, and chat with somebody about it if you can!
Being met with stunning forests, beautiful silence, and ice and snow, I arrived back at the Airbnb happy with the outcome!
At Nuuksio National Park I did the Klassarinkierros Trail. At Sipoonkorpi National Park I did the Kalkinpolttajan Trail (which takes you to the top of Hogberget).
TOP TIP: Google Maps takes you to Nuuksio on the West side of the park, the opposite side I wanted for the original trail I had researched.
I tried to get to a local Finnish restaurant I had google'd. After finding it was fully booked I tried really hard to resist. I did. I promise! But went back to that Italian Restaurant for my pizza and red wine.
Exploring Helsinki On Foot
Time for the last day. You know the drill by now: balcony, sunrise, sauna, bags, out the door. It was a shame to check-out so soon after checking in, but it was 6AM and I had a city to explore!
You can listen to the podcast to find out more, or watch the videos below. I got a Helsinki Card but really the highlights for me were Suomenlinna, The Natural History Museum, The National Museum and Löyly Sauna. 28,000 steps later, I was back in the car on my way to the airport.
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