Tag Archives: visit

Valparaiso – a street art paradise

is the largest harbour of Chile, it’s Unesco world heritage and rather dirty.

Valparaiso

But most impressively is certainly the sheer number of street art:

Across the sea

A relaxing though not exactly cheap two hours from Helsinki is Tallinn with the very pretty historic city center. Staying a little bit outside of this perimeter proved to be a good idea as apparently the city gets flooded every once in a while with tourists coming from one of the huge cruise ships. Luckily, none of these ships were around during our stay.

Still, the city was swarming with people and very animated. Having come across the ‘Like a local’ maps in the youth hostel in Helsinki, we put them to a practical use in Tallinn: First by joining the excellent free guided tour. Free, as always in these cases, means financed by tips which were given generously afterwards. Second by picking out some of the advised restaurants, one of them great, others more interesting though not in the English sense of the term.

Besides the city center, we also used one very well spent day to rent bicycles and drive all the way to the television tower and the botanic garden. Due to our poor planning (and incredibly long queues), we didn’t manage to get up the tower but the garden was still a worth-while visit.

Helsinki in summer

is not as warm as I would have liked it. 15-20°C in July simply does not qualify as ‘summer’ in my mind thought it helps to understand why Scandinavian friends find temperatures above 25°C unbearably hot.

Anyway, the weather – temperatures aside – was good, generally sunny and windy, perfect for walking a lot and enjoying the almost empty city. Could it be that any self-respecting inhabitant of Helsinki spends the summer months in a little cottage on his or her lake?

There were still enough tourists to bridge the gap but my impression of the city as being curiously quiet for a capital remains. Not that I would complain!!

We visited the Suomenlinna island, which is as much a museum, a ford and a quiet neighborhood of Helsiki; the harbor where we were lucky enough to see the dozens of sailing boots thanks to the Tall Ship race being in town; and the Seurasaari island with its collection of houses from all over Finland, some of them being several hundred years old. Besides this was a lot of walking and the realisation that Helsinki has a) no high buildings, b) a lot of water and c) is very green.

All in all, the two full days we had went by very quickly. Prices were not as steep as we had feared – coming from Brussels they seemed reasonable for most things except alcohol. Traveling on to Tallinn, I would however not recommend the trip the other way round. After all, there is a reason why Finish people pay the (expensive) ferry trip to do some cheap shopping.