This is a continuation from: ‘History at a glance – The cool forts of Suomenlinna‘
As mentioned in previous posts, a trip to Helsinki should definitely include Suomenlinna, an island fortress a 15 min ferry ride away from the jetty, Kauppatori. When we were there in summer, flowers were blooming amid the long green grass, while fortresses constructed in the size and shape of a hobbit’s home caught my eye. I thought to myself – how nice it would have been to stay in these houses!
Highlight – Explore the tunnels
It doesn’t end there. Pluck up some courage to enter one of the tunnels dug many centuries ago. Do be careful though, when we were there, some inconsiderate fellas had left bits of a broken glass bottle behind. That’s why it’s important go with covered shoes. It can get pitch dark, so bring a torch if possible, or use the flashlight on your smartphone.
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A Walk Around The Sea Fortress of Suomenlinna
Be there early
We were lucky to arrive at Suomenlinna at 8am that summer. When we left for mainland at noon, the island was filled with tourists and local Finns. The tourists came from all parts of the world, including many Europeans and there were a couple of Japanese and Chinese tourists. At 8am, it’s just the early birds. The ferry is not packed, and we travelled across the Gulf of Finland towards Suomenlinna at a leisurely place, taking photos as we go. Click on the link to check out the photos.
The Grocery Store
Upon arrival, we first headed to the grocery store on the right of the Visitor Centre. Our stomachs are growling, having been on a 12 hour flight. There isn’t hot coffee available, but very affordable Magnum icecream (about €1 per stick). That was followed by take a rest on the benches behind the Visitor Centre. You could grab a bottle of water and some food too.
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Quaint looking wooden or brick houses with beautiful flowers
We passed by several houses which were stylishly done up, with simplicity. I also love it when they decorate it with flowers – the colour fits so perfectly together. In Singapore, the only plants that are able to survive the heat all year round do not do well at bearing flowers. Hence our balconies are mainly filled with green money plants with the occasional bougainvillea.
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Lutheran Cathedral from Suomenlinna
There’s a little cathedral on the island. It’s not very big, but is surrounded by heavy,wrought iron chains. When we were there, they were doing some construction work inside. It’s an active church with regular services going on.
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A spot to yourself
Along the fortress overlooking the sea, you can catch sight of the Gulf of Finland. If you’re lucky, (and early), you have a small part of the island to yourself. It’s just you, the seagulls resting on the rocks, and the mighty Gulf.
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Dilapidated red building at a tiny corner of the island
We came across a rather dilapidated building in Suomenlinna. Half smoked cigarettes carelessly left at a corner, as well as a row of bicycles seem to suggest that there were people living there. But how very unFinnish this is! It seem to be more Russian instead. I am very interested to know the origins and function of this building. If anyone knows, please leave a comment!
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Another highlight – The Bridge
In the middle of the walk, you will pass by a bridge, with nice wooden floating platforms on the sea, which makes for a great photo opportunity. The photos will tell you why.
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The Gulf is mighty but not fearsome. We spotted several European ladies planning to go for a swim, on a hot summer’s day. Well, just make sure the seagulls do not take off with your day clothes, and the Gulf does not consume your towel.
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A place to lie on the grass and snooze
Forts and the historical importance aside, Suomenlinna is just a nice little island, where you can lie back on the grass and have a siesta. Under the cover of the large canopy of trees, it’s a refreshing way of immersing yourself in nature, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Hope you enjoyed this series on Suomenlinna! The next few posts will be on Helsinki, the food and sights around town.