Welcome back to the weekly log of my journey in the Northern Europe!
Today is a special day and that is because is my birthday! Yeee 😎 It was funny what really happened to today, but will start from the beginning.
I spent the first half of the day working remotely from the AirBnB until Joan was coming to Helsinki. If you haven’t read the first couple of posts, I met him in Lviv, Ukraine and since then we met again in Tallinn, Estonia and now again in Helsinki.
The plan for the afternoon was to see Suomenlinna – it’s basically the most popular place to visit whilst in Helsinki. It was originally a maritime fortress to help defend Finland against Sweden when it was an aggressive maritime nation. It was also strategically important during the Soviet days and the Cold War.
Today is part of UNESCO World Heritage with about 800 people living there, but it’s full of museums, cafes and restaurants. You can there the municipal ferry from the Market Square which takes about 15-20 minutes.
I’ve checked Uber to see how much it would cost to get to the Market Square and from where I lived, it was about €12 one way – so about €25 the taxi. I was in a rush getting there and don’t know why I didn’t look at public transport, but eventually I got the car and parked in the center.
I have circled around, but there aren’t any free parking slots and the price per hour is €4. I payed for 3 hours in advance and split the bill with Joan since I bargain to get him home anyway. 👌
We spent there about 2 hours on the island – I mean it was more than enough. If the weather would’ve been a bit warmer and if the coffee shops would have been open, maybe we would have stayed more, but in 2 hours you really get to do all the pedestrian routes.
I started to feel some kind of pain in my upper right abdomen on our way back to city and the pain started to worsen. Took Joan to the hotel and went straight to the hospital AE to make sure everything is alright.
The health care in Finland is super cool 👌 they have a pretty smart system for queueing up and there is a doctor that sees you exactly when you get there. Is good I had 2 different insurances – the EU one and the private one from SafetyWing. You never know when those things happen in life.
They’ve taken me blood tests, urine test, had an abdominal CT scan and an ultrasound, only to tell me that the results were normal and there is nothing to be worried about. I got some specific pain killers to help me cope with the pain and I started to feel better. Maybe it was the reindeer meat that I had yesterday from the shop or maybe is the stress and exhaustion accumulated all these days since I started the trip, or maybe is a combination of all – who knows? 🤷♂️
It is a bit difficult to travel and have the energy to go and explore daily whilst driving between cities, packing & unpacking, working remotely and most importantly, constantly changing beds. I am not complaining whatsoever, but this experience made me realise that I need to re-think a bit the next stops and try to stay more days in one place 💡
I chilled all day in the room, re-planning the upcoming weeks, working for my clients and trying to eat some light food and drink as much water as I can.
For my next stops I was thinking to do a road trip in Finland visiting Porvoo, Turku, Tampere and then continue up north to Oulu, then Rovaniemi. Trying to stick with the current plan, I realised it would be more tiring to do each one of them for a night and swap places.
Instead, I choose to go up north directly to Oulu, to drive 7 hours, and spend a couple more days there and a couple of more in Rovaniemi, where they say reindeers in the city is a normal sight. Can’t wait to get there! 🦌 🦌
Had a really nice sleep last night, was feeling energetic and when I looked in the mirror, I realized I needed a haircut 🤪
Looked on Google for a hairdresser with good reviews and got one 20 mins walk. I was in the mood to walk, and said why not? Was super pleased with the Finnish haircut I got and now I was ready to blend in amongst the locals. 😎
Had a strange feeling these days since I arrived in Helsinki, feeling watched, by literally every local I was passing, walking and driving. Wasn’t sure exactly why at the beginning, but then I realised the majority of people here are blond with blue or green eyes. Apart from that, the majority of them (about 90%) are dressed in sport clothes and very few are wearing jeans (at least in Helsinki). The ones that I saw wearings jeans, were pretty much tourists (like me).
And I kid you not – the majority of Finns are really into sports of any kind – running, biking, skateboarding, hiking. Yes, hiking 🧗Helsinki is a city with lots and lots of dunes and it was really easy to get from where I lived to city centre since it was downhill. The hardest part was the return and on my way back, even the elderly people were walking faster than me 😂
Maybe the city got them used with the sport, or maybe it is a mentality thing to stay active, but so far I am amazed to see such a dynamic population. Age really is just a number in Finland 💪
Fast forward, I set my map to the Market Square. I was craving for street food since I woke up and got there in about 20 mins walk from the hairdresser (but it was downhill, and that was a relief 😂 ).
It was a beautiful day, full of locals and tourists queueing up to buy sour fish sealed in plastic cups, different types of fried fish with vegetables, and also some queues at the home-made ginger sea buckthorn marmalade.
If you didn’t know already, I am a Libra, and is coming really hard for me sometimes to choose what to buy from a Market and stay in a budget. My daily budget was still about €50 to spend on food and on other expenses(excluding accommodation and gas) and obviously I exceeded that, because, oh well:
1. I cannot choose easily
2. They all looked too good to chose from
3. You are in Finland and everything is expensive here. Even fridge magnets start from €5 a piece….
Yes..I got a piece of everything, because why not? 🤷♂️
After my lovely time spent shopping in the Market, I queued up for some fresh fried hering done in Finnish way and served with 2 types of sauces (both really really nice).
Went for a bit of strolling after along the port to see the Lutheran Cathedral, which was 5 mins walk from the Market Square. From there I lost myself in this huge capital and I really love to get lost sometimes and find myself in the right direction using my inner intuition.
Woke up super early in the morning, at about 5am and I was full of energy🔋 Started to pack my bags and put them in the car, because tomorrow morning at about 8am I have my 2nd inspection booked. Soon I am reaching 30,000kms and have to change the oil, filters and check the breaks.
Morning was just starting and I prepared a really nice porridge bowl with raspberry jam and banana and then chilled in bed for another hour reading my current book – The Ghostwriter.
Later that morning, I got to work from Helsinki Library (again). The vibe there was too cool not to stay, chill, talk with other freelancers and continue to focus on delivering the work. Such an inspiring open space. Go Finland!
I have mentally prepared for this day 2 days in advance. I knew it was going to be a long day to drive and to sort out my car second inspection, but everything sorted out in the end 👌
Early in the morning I ate some bulgur with tomatoes & humus and then set Waze to the car service. Two days ago I got a quote for €180, but depending on what the mechanic would find during the inspection it might be more. It was good to know the final bill was €209. I had to pay €29 more because the car is a 2020 model, and for models later than 2018 you pay a bit more. In this quote, they changed the oil, the oil filter, the air filter and checked the brakes, which was not that bad in the end.
Is good that I would need to do my 3rd inspection now at 50,000 kms which is a bit better. The first two I had them done at 15,000kms each, but now I got an extra 5,000kms. Yeee
Was super excited I have sorted it out little after 10 o’clock in the morning and I set my Waze to Oulu. One hour later, my map kept re-routing and I realised in the middle of the road my data plan was depleted..oh well.. I continued the road on the highway until the next gas station to find some free WiFi to top-up my plan. The gas station’s WiFi didn’t work, but someone was super nice to enable the personal hotspot, so I can sort it out in the end. Go Finland!
The road trip was super nice, full of forests and beautiful lakes and I really didn’t feel tired end of the day, even after 8 hours of driving. I have done two breaks on the road – one because I had a scheduled call for about an hour with a client. I pulled over again after two hours in another gas station and set up for the call. The call went super great and I was full of energy and good vibe again 🔋😌 Let the weekend begin, as some say 🤪
On top of that, at the gas station they had warm food and a supermarket and I was even more happy to see that they ran a promotion of €10.90 all you can eat. And I was starving. And it was perfect. 🤤
At my second stop, I wanted to fill the tank full, but when I got off the car, I dropped my phone and broke the screen and the camera…oh well…😅 I felt good for a second that my father lended me his Nikon camera to use it until I get my phone fix. Always have a contingency plan in place for things like this. Or at least some kind of insurance.
Got up to Oulu late in the evening and it was raining a lot. I really wanted to get in bed, but had some issues with the AirBnB’s key to open up the door. It only took 10 mins with just one phone call to sort everything and get in. One long hot shower later and I crashed in bed instantly. Good night!
For the second time in my trip, I felt like home. I checked the mattress brand in the morning and they happen to use the same one that I have at home ❤️ No wonder I had such a chilled sleep.
I set up the usual wrap omelette that I usually at home with tomatoes and lots of cheese and for the first time in 4 weeks I haven’t rushed to get out. Two hours later and a few good chapters read over two tea pots, I convinced myself to check out the beach and have a walk in the city centre.
I am only staying today and tomorrow I am going to Rovaniemi – hopefully I will be able to see the Northern Lights in the first night 🤞
The beach view was amazing and even tough there were 11 degrees outside, I didn’t actually feel cold. Got my Kindle out, set the towel on the sand and chilled there continuing the chapters I left that morning.
A few hours later, the skies cleared up and I could’ve feel the weather warmer. So I went for a walk in the city centre to find some places to fix my phone. I found a few, but they all needed at least 2 days to have it fixed and price was between €200 – €250 (Finland prices) – if you think about it, I might be better of buying a new budget phone, but I really got used to this iPhone 8 and I would rather fix it in Rovaniemi since I am staying there more days.
Another brilliant idea came to my mind – I can buy a budget phone and use that one for photos during this trip and when I am back home, I can fix my iPhone (since it’s cheaper) and sell the new phone. Leave a comment below with your thoughts and please let me know if you have better ideas 🙂
My last day in Oulu, I woke up fresh and again I was craving for some cheesy tomato wrap omelette. Packed my bags slowly, had a quick shower and then I was off the road again to Rovaniemi. 🦌
The road trip was great at the beginning, but once s I got into the forest I could feel all the potholes. I couldn’t pass it with more than 50kms/h but it was just amazing to go slow with the windows down, music off and just listen the forest quietness.
I got to my AirBnB, checked-in and was excited to hungry for some Finnish food. The host was super kind to recommend me a few spots for the next few days and settled for today just to stroll in the city centre to have an idea about the main places that I am going to visit the next days.
The view from the backyard was just amazing – check out below how cool it is to wake up with a view like this <3
But first food – I checked some of the recommended restaurants but all of them were closed on a Sunday. So I settled to get something to eat anywhere. And fast. And I got to the gas station again haha. Last time I got a pretty good deal and the food was amazing – this time it was exactly the same. Had some mashed potatoes with reindeer meet, garnished with salad & a special sauce and ordered a home-made non-alcoholic beer. All for just €11 – which is nothing in Finland. Since I was there, I also did a full tank and the prices went up to €1.81/l. Hopefully it will stay like this, but I doubt that. Oh well.. what can you do?
Parked the car somewhere central and I went to check out the city centre and crossed some interesting bridges. It was super quiet everywhere, I guess partially because of the cloudy and windy weather and partially because it was Sunday and maybe everyone was chilling at home, but anyway, I found most of the places and drew a mental map on how to get there tomorrow.
Checked the weather and it was going to rain the next few days and I didn’t want to lose a chance to go in the woods. So I got back to the parking to get my car and went uphill to Ounasvaara hill to see if I get lucky to capture any wild animals on the camera. I went even deep down in the forest alone, not seeing a single sole around, but that didn’t really stop me to get further. I am not usually afraid of animals and I think that animals detect if you are afraid and feel when you are vulnerable. In a way, I think I was lucky not to test that theory since I wasn’t able to see any animals, but I got some pictures on the camera. Had to return to the car because the fog suddenly started to appear and really didn’t wanted to get stuck in the evening.
Already 4 weeks passed I am already in the Northern Europe and soon will arrive to the most Northern point on the continent.
Here is a quick summary after one month away:
- I had the chance to meet amazing people from all around the world and I am grateful for all the international friendships that I have now 🙂
- Passed 6 countries 🇺🇦🇵🇱🇱🇹🇱🇻🇪🇪🇫🇮 out of 13 already and I am super excited to see more
- Ate so many new types of local food in each country and I can’t wait to see what I will have next
- Drove 3,940kms in total so far out of 10,000kms planned (I think that will be passed soon)
- Set up a new habit of daily walking with a daily average of 10kms 🚶♂️
- Started to eat healthier and I am on my way to become a vegetarian (very soon) 🌱
- Quitted coffee one week ago ⛔️
- I still love to drive a lot even though I am doing that a lot this period 🏎
- I accommodated with working remotely whilst I am traveling (and that’s a huge deal for me) 💻
- Started to meditate in the mornings (even if it’s 5-10mins for now, but it helps a lot) 🧎♂️
- And the most important factor – I am more at peace with my inner thoughts. 😌
Common Phrases in Finnish
|Good Morning||Hyvää huomenta.!||(hiuva huomenta)|
|Good Evening||Hyvää päivää.||(hiuva pai-vaa)|
|Sorry / Excuse me||Valitan||(valitan)|
|Please||Ole kiltti||(ole chil-ti)|
|How Much Does This Cost?||Kuinka paljon tämä maksaa?||(cuinta palion ta-ma mac-sa?)|
This week I spent €536 out of €700 budget which was super great again! I didn’t add the car maintenance which was €209 since that had to be done any way and the price would have been more or less the same.
Thank you for reading thus far and see you soon in my next weekly post!