Helsinki Nights

Helsinki nights are nothing but magic.  We left Sweden earlier this morning for the Finnish capitol.  Our morning got off to a bit of a bumpy ride when all of us overslept our alarms.  Fortunately, we were able to catch the Arlanda Express train and get to the airport well in advance of our flight. Unfortunately, we had to skip out on the awesome hotel breakfast and coffee.  As soon as we were through security, I hit the coffee shop for a latte and a cinnamon/cardamon bun.  They were both super tasty.

The flight from Sweden to Finland was all of forty minutes and a bit bumpy.  I was hoping for a Finnish stamp on my passport, but since we flew in from Sweden we didn’t go through Finnish customs.  Rather than take the train to the city center as we had in Stockholm, we took the a cab to our Airbnb in the Ullalinna district in central Helsinki.  We have the cutest apartment for our stay here in Helsinki.  It’s beyond perfect for our group.

It’s also perfect that we have several restaurants, a liquor store, a cafe, and a grocery store that stays open late! Yay!  Since we sort of skipped both breakfast and lunch, we headed for an early bird dinner at the restaurant Sea Horse.   The restaurant has been open here in Helsinki since 1934.  We liked the menu as it was traditional Finnish fare.

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Our dinner started with an amazing cream of mushroom soup served with rye bread on the side.  It was delicious.  As for the cocktail, three of us drank their cloudberry drink.  I love cloudberries, but wasn’t digging the bitterness of the tonic.  For my main course, I enjoyed sautéed reindeer served on a bed of mashed potatoes and topped with lingonberries.  I really enjoyed the reindeer. It was less gamey than the venison (I still loved it) I had in Stockholm.  With my meal, the cloudberry drink was much more balanced and less bitter.

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Post dinner we raided our neighborhood grocery store for chocolate, beer, cider, and frozen pizzas.  Our first trip was insufficient, so Brandi and I made another trip later in the evening.  Once the groceries were unpacked, we made sure our bags were adequately packed for the sauna. As soon as we were packed up, we headed out on foot to Löyly.  Like Oslo and Stockholm, Helsinki is a great walking city.

The air was brisk as we made our way towards the waterfront, but grew significantly more brisk as we made it to the Baltic.  Fortunately, the walk was not far and the scenery was sublime.  Apparently, we were quite anxious to hit the sauna as we were forty minutes early.  Fortunately, for us and them, they had a beautiful bar area that we were able to take advantage of as we waited.

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Our appointment was at 8:00 pm and was for a two hour block.  The facilities were absolutely top notch from the locker rooms to the saunas and even the path/stairs to the Baltic.  It’s been a minute since I’ve been in a sauna, so it took a minute to re-acclimate.  I didn’t last long at all in the first one.  As soon as we left the sauna, we ran (don’t worry I walked) down to the stairs that enter the Baltic.   Even I have my limits, so I wasn’t going all in to the sea.  It couldn’t always be helped, however, as the waves were big and the tide was coming in.

The second sauna was hotter, but I liked the setup of the room better.  It was a bigger sauna with  more room and closer to the sea.  We made three of four more rounds of the sauna and sea before we closed the place down.   I’m not sure if it was the cider and Salmiakki or if I just got used to it, but by the end I was pretty comfortable in the sauna.  Consequently, I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up back at the sauna before the week it out.

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There’s something about the sauna.  We were all super hungry and I definitely wanted tacos.  I blame, El Rey, the Mexican restaurant we passed on our way to the sauna.  Unfortunately, by the time we made it back to El Rey, their kitchen was closed for the night.  Luis and Roberto were amazing hosts and made us their house margarita.  It was amazing.  We’re going back for dinner and drinks tomorrow: that’s how good the drink was!

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As for the rest of the night, we chilled and relaxed.  As for me, I’m off to bed since we lost an hour going east.  Have a great night!

If you go:

Dinner: Sea Horse

Sauna: Löyly

Drinks: El Rey

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