Writing this from Chamonix and my memory is a little fuzzy. I have done a lot since Helsinki.
I took the Viking Line from Stockholm to Helsinki, it is the party boat, looks like the Love Boat. Had some fun dancing the night away. It is an overnight boat and as you leave Stockholm, you view the archapelago for a few good hours. Very pretty, a lot of summer homes. Arrived in Helsinki at 9:30 am and ready for some coffee. A fellow traveller joined me for coffee and a sugar doughnut at the harbor market. The harbor market is beautiful. It is right on the water and is also in the center of the city. A beautiful orthodox style church ( the big white one in my pics ) is nearby. This market caters to tourists, but also locals, and many locals were having their coffee and enjoying the sun. They have all these different stands where you can get coffee and doughnuts, fresh fish, cooked fish, fruit, and tourist stuff. I loved sitting there, taking in the view of the water. I also had some of the local fish, herring I think, it was fried and very good.
While walking to the youth hostel, which was downtown - perfectly located - my new friend and I were waiting at a traffic light. He was standing in the bike lane. A girl went whizzing by and in a split second, this guy was airborn and out of my sight. Her bike hooked his backpack and launched him off his feet. No one was hurt. It was pretty hilarious. Do not stand in the bike lanes in Helsinki. You are warned!
Went to Tallinn, Estonia the next day and then back to Helsinki for 7 days. Rained a lot, but I did the sightseeing. Saw a very cool church which was underground and had granite walls. Noticed that the architecture is really unique, don't know what you call it, but very utilitarian and pays homage to the workers. Did the museum. Finland has a very interesting history because it has been influenced by Russia and Sweden over the years. You get the feeling they are damn happy to be their own country now and they are really going for it, working hard and embracing new things such as the EU. I also went out a few nights and met some of the locals. Basically sat around, worked on the internet, and drank a lot of coffee. The people are very nice in Helsinki. I was able to talk with everyone. Went to a pub to see Italy vs. Finland in football. Italy won. Also took a boat ride around the islands. Very livable place.
The most memorable thing I did was go to the last wood fired public sauna. Everyone said I must do Sauna, so I did. It was essentially a man's club. We need this type of thing in the U.S.. You go in this big room with about 6 levels. When you go in, you are supposed to offer to pull some lever which releases heat ( but I did not know at the time ), and there is always the joker who tries to prod you to the highest level. I could not get past the 3rd level. It was so hot. You last about 10 minutes, then go outside, and do this about 10 times. I could only handle about 3. When you go outside, you just have your towel, and you hang out, bullshitting with all the guys. I could not really bullshit with them since I don't know Finnish, but I was there, hanging. It is on a regular street, so people are walking by, but everyone knows these guys will be there, no big deal.
Also noticed the girls wear these pretty scarfs with patterns. They must have winter ones and sping ones, since these were pretty light. Oh, I missed Ricky Martin. They had their city celebration and Ricky Martin was the surprise guest. Last year it was Shikira, they like the Latin music I guess. I also did some jogging around a really cool park by the water. Lot's of little granite islands in the harbor. Well, I should write these sooner because I don't think I am being too exciting here.
Then it was back on the party boat to Stockholm. Met some crazy Aussies. This is definitely a theme.