Helsinki in Two Days

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This guest post was written by my good friend Lesley Swirhun of Boulder, Colorado – a civil engineer by trade and the only female I know who has the desire and the smarts to figure out how everyday things are built.

Helsinki in March?

We were spending 4 nights in Copenhagen and had the fortunate problem of needing to use SAS miles for a short Scandinavian flight – so decided to pop over to Helsinki, the capital of Finland.

We booked the GLO Hotel, right off the main shopping street, for our stay and were not disappointed.  The breakfast at the GLO was a plentiful buffet with delicious European breads and fresh fruit among other offerings. Our plan was to see the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Suomelinna, an island off the coast and easily accessible by a short ferry ride from the Harbor. In March the ferry is an icebreaker and the views from the boat reminded me of a scene from Dr. Zhivago.

"Dr. Zhivago like scene"

Dr. Zhivago like scene

The island is famous for being seized by the Russians from the ruling Swedes in the early 1800s. We hiked the full length of the island in an hour and caught the next ferry back to Helsinki. In the summer allow more time as we understand there are shops and restaurants open.

We hustled from the ferry to one of the few vegetarian restaurants for lunch. Zucchini Restaurant on Fabianinkatu is only open for lunch. The food was wonderful and filling and a great change from meaty European winter meals.

"Meal at Zucchini Restaurant"

Meal at Zucchini Restaurant

The Grand Square is impressive and the church near the Harbor highlights the Russian influence.

"Church with Russian design influences"

Church with Russian design influences

Helsinki is full of modern Finnish design shops and museums. A good starting point is the Design Forum Shop showcasing new modern design.

In March many of the museums were closed for renovations so check schedules beforehand if there is something you want to visit. Two interesting places we stumbled upon were the Women’s Museum in a historic house near the grand square detailing the history of women in Finland and the architecturally famous Church in the Rock – though one that was closed for renovations in March.

And just for your information – we had cool but sunny weather in March with a light snow one evening.

Helsinki is a great place for a short stopover if you are anywhere near Scandinavia.

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