The smooth ferry crossing on the 19th June took only two and a half hours and included some sunshine which continued as we drove through the city of Helsinki. The large buildings and churches in the city looked very impressive.
We settled into a campsite for the night,cleaned the van and did many loads of washing dodging intermittent showers in the warmer 15degree temperature.

I finally discovered after many failed attempts and cursing because toilet doors would not lock that unlike in Australia and many other countries, the doors are locked by turning them the opposite direction.

The rain stopped the next day and it was slightly warmer so we took the metro which was very new and efficient into town to explore the sights. Not surprisingly we noticed that the prices had risen considerably since leaving Estonia with two coffees costing 10euros albeit in a lovely old art deco cafe called “Strindberg”.

I came up the steps to the Helsinki Cathedral I literally walked into one of my bookclub friends from Perth and her husband who just happened to be in town for one day from a cruise ship. A couple of minutes either side or if we had walked up the other side of the steps and we would have missed them – an amazing coincidence.

We made our way through the central outdoor markets selling strawberries, cherries, raspberries and blueberries and headed for the station back to the campsite, picked up the campervan and travelled half and hour to the Vantaa area where our friend Ajith and his lovely Finnish wife Kaisa live with their five children. It was lovely being at a home for a couple of days and go for a walk in the forest with their two lovely Lappland dogs, one an adorable puppy “Miki”. Ajith is a great cook so we enjoyed a lot of good Indian food.

Kaisa, Maurice and I drove into Helsinki the next day (about 20minutes away) and parked at the open market where after a heavy downpour we caught the ferry to Suomelinna (Finnish Castle) island. It was not really a castle but a fortress on one of four islands just off the Helsinki coast. It happened to be Mid-Summer’s day (21st June) and a national holiday but there was really nothing “mid-Summer” about it as it was the coldest in 34years with a freezing cold wind and temperature of about 15degrees. It has also been the coldest summer there for 50years – just our luck!
The sun showed itself long enough for us to sit and have lunch in the sun at the marina which was very pleasant.
When we got home Maurice and I had a sauna (nearly every Finnish house has one) to warm up.

We left for St Petersburg on the 22nd June “784 Allegro” from Tikkurila station in Vantaa which was closer to our friend’s home rather than the main train station in Helsinki. The trip on the very modern train took three and a half hours and the time went very quickly as we sat next to the third lot of travellers from Perth that we have met since leaving home in 2012.

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