I’d booked the early afternoon ferry to Helsinki so that we wouldn’t have to get up ridiculously early, though we still had to set the alarm for 07:00. After stopping off for some groceries and filling up with diesel (which is more expensive in Finland) we arrived at the port with plenty of time to spare.
The ferry was much nicer than the one we took from Bari to Patras in December, and it was also much easier to drive on and off. The crossing is popular with the Finns, who go on booze cruises to take advantage of the much cheaper alcohol in Estonia. We saw one guy with a flat bed trolley fully loaded with crates of booze. The two hour crossing was super smooth, and before long we were docking in Helsinki.
Our camperstop is in a car park by the zoo, about 5 km from the city centre or 20 minutes by bus. It’s free to park here, which makes a nice change.
This morning we took the bus into Helsinki, which will be our last city visit for a while. Since leaving the Peloponnese in January we’ve mostly stayed in cities as we’ve been travelling out of season, when the majority of aires and campsites have been closed for winter. Whilst we’ve had a great time exploring so many cities, we do feel quite ‘citied out’ now, and so we decided to spend just the one day in Helsinki.
The bus dropped us off at the railway station, an impressive art deco building, and we then wandered around the city. There’s not a huge amount to see, but we were impressed with the Rock Church, built – as the name implies – into the side of a rock. We did get a little excited when we found a Marks and Spencer’s, but disappointingly there was no food hall, so no Percy Pigs.
We will leave Helsinki tomorrow and drive to Turku close to the south west coast. From there we plan to drive up the west coast up to Kemi, and then keep going north, crossing the Arctic Circle and then the Norwegian border, until we get to Nordkapp which is the most northerly point in Europe. We want to get to Nordkapp by mid-June, certainly before midsummer’s day when it will be super busy.
Another reason for not hanging around too long in Finland is that there is no LPG here at all, so we won’t be able to replenish our gas tanks until we reach Alta in Norway. As we rely on gas for hot water, cooking, powering our fridge and heating (yes, it’s going to get cold!) we can’t afford to run out.
LPG aside, Finland looks to be very motorhome friendly, and it’s legal to wild camp in most places. The Finns also have a network of free to use service points called Ajokaivots which are located across the country (these are apparently heated in winter, so they can be used all year round). We think we’re going to like it here.
As we’ll be wild camping most of the time for the next three months, we will only have hook up once every couple of weeks, so I’m not going to be able to keep charging up my laptop to do the photos. Starting now, I’m going to be taking photos on my phone and uploading them to Instagram, and then adding the photos to the blog when we have hook up and wi-fi.