Things to do in Helsinki

1:23 AM
Hi, traveller. Are ready to explore Northern Europe with me?
I decided to start my blog post from our recent trip to Helsinki. I didn't see so much there, and barely can you give any tips on what you should do there or what to eat, but there are few things that I would like to mention and inspire you to travel to Finland.

I remember when I was a student, my friend's brother told that he was leaving to Finland for his scholarship. To be honest, at this time I thought, "What a crazy man! Why Finland?" After taking my short trip to Helsinki, I realized what I had been missing all along. Yes, it is freaking cold here during the winter. And yes, they have short days in winter and very long days in summer. But learning about Finland, I came to appreciate this amazing and advanced country.

How did we get to Helsinki? We took a ferry from Estonia, which wasn't expensive and not that difficult. It took about 2 hours. On board, we had options to shop and dine. After our short ride, I decided to simply relax in the hotel. On my next day, I went to walk around the city, trying to visit several museums without checking out if they worked on Monday. So, don't make my mistake and make sure to check online if museums are open. There are a few museums that I wanted to check: Kiasma, National Museum of Finland, Design Museum, and Sinebrychoff Art Museum.

Since I didn't get to see any museums, I decided to at least visit the Christmas market located on Helsinki Senate Square where you can buy handmade goodies that are made in Finland. Dominating the square is the most beautiful 19th century Helsinki Cathedral. From there, I walked toward the harbor to check out the market. I started my journey very early in the morning, so everything was closed too. I walked along the harbor to find a vista point at the Tahtitorninvuoren Puisto Park and continued to walk toward the Kiasma museum. After failing to visit the museum, I decided to take a stop at the popular Finish brand store of Marimekko. When I went to Paris Fashion Week this year, I got to see their new spring/summer collection and decided to take my chance to get a small gift for myself as a memory of Finland. If you get chance to travel to Helsinki, make sure to stop there and buy a beautiful scarf or dress, just because it is cheaper to buy there than to shop online. They not only sell women clothes, but also home goods. By lunch time, I decided to take a break for a small bite at one of the cafes, and got a huge portion of salad that was very delicious and cheap. As soon as I finished my lunch, I met with my husband and we decided to check out the most colorful neighborhood in Helsinki - Huvilakatu. Later, we took a ferry to fortress Suomenlinna. Sadly, in the winter season, it quickly gets dark, and we barely could see anything when we arrived to the fortress. After taking a ferry back to the city, we decided to stop at City Museum. We wrapped up our day trying wild bear and reindeer meat at Savotta.

 Helsinki Architecture









Senate Square & Christmas Market




Helsinki Harbor





Tahtitorninvuoren Puisto Park



 St John's Church


Book Store 

Three Smiths Statue

Marimekko 


Huvilakatu




 Uspenski Cathedral


 On the way to Suomenlinna fortress







City Museum Helsinki




Must See Places on the West Coast of America

10:51 AM
Thinking of a small road trip along on the West Coast of America. Well, we done it twice and here is my list what can you see while driving there and why is it worth to visit. It was definitely one of most favorite road trips that we did in United States. Our journey was started from Monterey, California till Seattle and back. 

1. Redwood Forest National Park, California State: 

California is definitely beautiful. Every single city or parks must be on your list to visit.Of course, we couldn't skip the famous Redwood Forest National Park. Before you go to any National Parks, make sure to visit the official page to see if the park is open, their current conditions and roads. The website for all parks in US is https://www.nps.gov/index.htm.

Beside of gorgeous gigantic trees, you can drive through the legendary Shrine Tree & Chandelier Tree. Our favorite was Chandelier because it is still healthy and beautifully alive. I definitely advise you to take a drive on the Avenue of the Giants and stop along the way for some nature walks. Our favorite trail was around Founder's Grove. It was short, but we were in awe of the incredibly huge trees as walked among them. 






2. Eureka and Trinidad, California State:  We enjoyed short stops at these wonderful cities. Eureka has a beautiful old town with victorian style houses where you can also buy Redwood tree seeds and saplings. It is a great place to grab some lunch or dinner before you go back to the road. One of things you should definitely visit is a Carson Mansion, if you love architecture. Sadly, it was closed when we got there. In Trinidad, we were able to see only the recreational lighthouse, a small beach, and fishing pier, that I found quite beautiful.

Eureka

Trinidad


3. Horsfall Beach, Oregon State: When you will get to Oregon State. I am advising you to stop for some beach break or even other nature activities at the Horsfall recreational area. You will find a lot of cool stuff such as towering tunes, fishing, horseback riding or even camping. Since, we didn't have so much time and briefly visited the beach before driving to Oregon Dunes. 



4. Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area, Oregon State:  We spent over an hour hiking to the beach. It was so much fun to walk through the dunes, then take a trail through the forest, before finding the ocean. When we got to the beach, we got lucky that no one was there. It was quite tough to hike up the dunes on our way back to the car, but it was definitely an awesome place. I would love to go back there in the future when we have kids.





5. Big Four Ice Caves, Washington State: This place is incredible, dangerous and mystical. I first asked my husband to visit the Ice Caves a while ago. After the tragic death of a young girl, the government actually closed the trail, but a year later, it was opened again to the public. I really wanted to go there in the winter season, but bad weather can make this a hazardous journey. That being said, my dream came true and we finally got there. If you are in Washington State, and plan to visit this place, please be careful! Read the signs, and don't climb or go inside of the cave. Several people have died doing this!




6. Cannon Beach, Oregon State: We actually visited the cute towns of Astoria and Seaside on the way to Cannon Beach. Due to the heavy rain and cold weather. I was able to take only a few photos at Cannon Beach. After Cannon Beach, we spent the night in rustic Rockaway Beach town. 




7. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon State: I have seen many things in my life, but this was truly something outstanding. The deep blue color, water clarity and just knowing that this lake was formed by a collapsed volcano blows your mind. Just so you know, it is the deepest lake in United States. If you plan a small family vacation, it is a must-visit place!




 
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