As we said in the last post, this blog entry will be about our boatrip to Helsinki (capital of Finland), St. Petersburg (2nd largest city in Russia) and Tallinn (capital of Estonia).
When the travel organization Scanbelt Expierence showed up at my university to introduce the “magical Russia Trip” for students and young people in general, we decided very quickly that we wanted to join! The journey was eight nights & days long and we travelled by ferry, a similar one to the one we took to Riga. We joined the trip with an amazing friend and got to know some other people while travelling as well. If anybody has a question about the trip, how to book it, about the costs or anything else, we appreciate your messages 🙂
Our first stop was Helsinki for one day. I’ve wanted to go to Finland for a long time and I heard very often how beautiful Helsinki should be – and it really is! It’s a beautiful and not very big capital with many beautiful churches and chapels. There were two that impressed us the most. We really liked the silent chaple in the middle of Helsinki downtown, an impressive building that is open for people of every religion, race, gender etc. When being in this chapel all the noise and chaos of the city is faded down and you can become very calm and relaxed in there.
The other church we really liked was the church in a rock, a very famous site in Helsinki. This church really is build into a gigantic rock which makes it very remarkable. They played music inside and when we first turned up we were lucky and there were not so many people inside. Even though we’re both not very religious, we enjoy going to churches in other places because they are so different everywhere and often are really stunning buildings! Another thing that happened in Helsinki was that we accidently ran into a friend from Germany! 😀 He was there for holidays with his Mom and it really was a happy incident 🙂
In the early evening we embarked onto the ferry again to travel to Russia overnight. We went to Russia visa-free which made it very easy and also cheaper for us. We could do that because we booked the trip with Scanbelt, which allowed us to stay exactly 72 hours in the country. That’s also why we had to stay on the ferry for a few more hours after we already arrived in the harbour.
We have to say we really LOVED St. Petersburg! It was so so beautiful! To us it was very different from what we’ve seen before, starting with the language.. For three nights we stayed at Velohostel, an average hostel which is very centrally located. On the first evening we went out for dinner with a friend who is doing his semester abroad and we found this amazing vegan restaurant called “Animals”. We were in food heaven! They make traditional Russian dishes and all sorts of “regular” dishes in vegan versions. We all ordered two dishes because we were so damn hungry and we payed around 7-8€ for two dishes and a beer! It was just so amazing that we went to the same place again another day 😀
On the picture you can see from left to right: warm eggplant salad, seitan stroganoff with mushroom filled Russian dumplings, omelette made from chickpea flour (better than eggs!) and a snack of seitan noodles in soy sauce.
On our second day we went to the famous and oh so beautiful hermitage museum, which is the palace Peter the Great gave to his daughter Katherine as a gift. The museum was full of art works, for instance by Rembrandt, Leonardo Da Vinci and my favourite, Michelangelo. But despite the art inside the museum, we really liked the whole building, its architecture and decoration the most.
The next day our great friend showed us around in the city, we went to some beautfiful orthodox churches again and we found an awesome hidden falaffel place. We looked for this place for about half an hour because it was so difficult to find it. The website on the internet said that we had to insert a special pin number at the door of the inyard of the house where the place was. After some struggles a bartender from a bar nearby helped us and told us to press all the pin numbers at the same time, then the door magically opened up 😀 The falaffel place was not a real restaurant, it was a real living room of some people who cooked falaffel and carrot soup in their kitchen and served it in their living room, it was so funny and awesome at the same time 🙂
In total we had a really awesome time in Russia and we were a bit sad to leave again. Maybe we will come back one day 🙂
Our last stop of the trip was Tallinn in Estonia. Here unfortunately we didn’t have very much time but it was great that our guide from Scanbelt was originally from there and could tell us interesting tales and myths about the city. Also she showed us an awesome view point from where we could see the beautiful oldtown. We discussed whether we liked Helsinki or Tallinn more, but we couldn’t decide. They are both very beautiful and in Tallinn the oldtown was especially nice.
All in all it was a great boattrip, full of laughter, exploring, discovering, churches, awesome vegan food, many snacks, short nights in a small ferry cabin, dancing and friends <3 🙂
Stay tuned, our next blog post will be about our next trip..:)
Anouk & Ken