Don’t ask me why, but for our first exploring Helsinki day I chose Kaivopuisto area. Maybe because it looked green on the map, so I took for granted there would be a playground? Or maybe because it was next to the sea? And there’s nothing I like more than looking at the sea. Or maybe because we had to take two trams to get there (well, as it turned out later we definitely didn’t have to, but…) and if S was to choose one thing he liked the most about Helsinki, it would definitely be tram rides.
Doesn’t matter why, I made a choice and it was… perfect!
In Helsinki there are two tram lines – 2 & 3 – whose routes make kind of 8. They meet at the central station and at the both ends of their lines. There instead of turning and taking the route backwards, they just mutually change the number and the tram rides on. Their routes also go through the whole old town/city centre area, so it’s one of the most convenient ways to see Helsinki and often was our choice to get somewhere, especially that we had the tram 3 stop just around the corner.
But since riding with two trams is waaay better that riding only with one (if you’re not sure about it, ask S!) we changed just outside the central station and pop into no 2 which took us to our destination passing by the Helsinki Cathedral and South Harbour.
After a tram ride we first went for a morning tea and cake in one cozy cafe. We were just between Kaivopuisto (park) and Merisatama (sea port for small boats). Kids where enjoying their cake and I started to create a route for that day in my head (finally!)
After this little pleasure we went right – among the sea, enjoying the view of countless boats shining in the sunlight. Then we entered a nice and big playground with a wooden ship and huge sandpit. We learned our first lesson about Helsinki – there are always many sand toys for use for all of the children provided (I guess…) by the city. After a lot of playing, when the sun started to be too strong, we walked a bit further among the port and then went back towards Kaivopuisto.
I have to say I was totally hit by the fact that Baltic coast can be so rocky! I’m so used to Polish white-sand beaches. And Kaivopuisto, though it has a regular playground (with a nice long slide) turned out to be one of the nicest natural playgrounds we’ve ever been to. Climbing the rocks barefoot, sliding (!!!) on a natural slide was what the kids liked the most! Since then N is trying to slide on almost every rock – poor pants and the parts underneath ;-)
On top of the rocky hill in Kaivopuisto there’s also an Ursa observatory. We haven’t been there, but you might want to try it out.
We first had our lunch on a rocky hill, then played on the playground and then walked around the park a bit more.
Then we walked down the hill and went among the coast towards the South Harbour and the old town of Helsinki. Looking at the countless islands, boats, ships and… the big big cruise ship which was soon to take off towards Stockholm!
We entered the Old Market Hall to take a look at all the tasty goodies and then wandered through the stands on the Market Square.
We ended up in the foot of the Uspenski Cathedral and this is where my Little Rascals started to be tired. I have to say I’m always amazed how strong and hardy they are. It was already late afternoon and we’ve been out almost the whole day! It was a moment for me to pull out my ace – I promised them another tram ride and ‘those really big big ice creams’ after we get to Helsinki Cathedral. Fortunately we were really close.
So soon afterwards we arrived at the Senate Square to see the Helsinki Cathedral, probably one of the most known and recognisable building of Helsinki. When passing by with a tram in the morning it was full of people and life. Now there were only several small groups of last tourists and probably some locals. After all the high stairs are a good meeting point.
And then we took a tram which brought us again to Merisatama where we ate those big big ice creams! Boy oh boy, they were huge and delicious!