On a chilly morning at the end of last October, Kirk, Ingrid, and I waited on the edge of the Helsinki harbor for a ferry to arrive. Pregnant and tired, I decided to squeeze onto a bench in the middle of a bunch of chatty kids who were on their way to school. They must have been among the 800 or so year-round residents of Suomenlinna, the 18th century island fortress turned UNESCO World Heritage Site where we were headed. It’s hard to imagine a more magical place to grow up.
Rugged old sailers were working to dry dock all the ships for winter. I imagined my little family spending a summer in one of these charming specimens. A dream!
As you can see, the streets and walkways were mainly paved with stones. Beautiful (just look at that herringbone pattern!) but not very stroller friendly. There is a wheelchair accessible map you can pick up to help you find the easiest route, but if you’ve got a little one, I’d recommend using a carrier instead of a stroller.
Once we left the docks, we pretty much had the place to ourselves, with the occasional cameo by another tourist or resident. We wandered through tunnels, down cobblestone lanes lined with charming homes, and over grassy bunkers.
Ending up at the edge of the island, we took in this spectacular view while the wind whipped around us. It felt like we were at the end of the earth.
Before getting back on the ferry, we stopped in at the cozy Suomenlinna Brewery Restaurant for a late lunch. Wild mushroom risotto, salmon soup (a big Finnish tradition), a sampling of local cheeses, and hot chocolate. Delicious.
Stay tuned for the Helsinki Travelogue, Part 3. (Don’t worry, I think that might be the last installment.) In the mean time, check out Helsinki Travelogue, Part 1 if you missed it.