On our way home from St. Petersburg we spent 2 days in Helsinki. We checked into The Kamp hotel in the center of the city. Very nice hotel and easy walking to all the local attractions. Helsinki is a small city, clean and easy to get around. We had lunch in the hotel and at once realized how expensive Helsinki was going to be. Carl had a club sandwich, $31.00 dollars and I had a small salad with tuna, $36.00 dollars along with my $16.00 glass of wine and Carl had a local beer. The taxes the locals pay are close to 31% plus a vat tax on everything you buy. The country is run by all women and is doing the best of any country in the EU, so I guess the tax situation works for them.
We headed to the local farmers market by the terminal where the cruise ships dock. It is mushroom season and they were beautiful, several types of Chantrelles, also huge piles of lingonberris, a small mountain type of cranberry. We had made reservations for lunch at a 1 star restaurant called “OLO” , www.olo-ravintola.fi , The head chef Pekka Terawa came out and showed us the local berry that he used to create our beautiful dessert, Sea Buckthorn berries. this is a must try if you go to Helsinki.
The rest of the day was spent just walking around the city. A stop in the huge department store to visit their super market, then headed back to the hotel for a nap, since the rain had arrived. That evening we went to a restaurant that a local friend had suggested called Seahorse. This is like a simple tavern, they had been made famous for their steak and onions. Not the best steak but I had the cabbage rolls and they were as good as my grandmother could ever make.
Our last day the sun came out so we just wandered the small streets then went to the contemporary museum. A simple musuem but beautiful glass structure, many of the new buildings are showing interesting architecture worth just standing back and looking at.
Our last dinner was at The fish Market, a resturant located in the basement level of a building about 3 blocks from the hotel. The restaurant served large portions so we could have shared the fish. The local white fish is served several ways, smoked or fried with lemons and sage were our two choices. The whole fish arrives at the table in a wooden box, no lid, along with a good sauce to dip the fish or the fries in.They also offer a huge fresh platter and if you are smart enough to order cray fish 2 days in advance you will have a real feast, this is a fall speciality.
Helsinki was clean and beautiful with plenty of shopping to take up your time.