Isolation

There are few things more impressive than a sea fortress. Imposing stone walls towering out over the raging seas below, an impenetrable barrier against the weather and the threatening enemy across the waves. Helsinki's Suomenlinna is a castle settlement about a fifteen minute ferry ride from the docks. It's actually spread over four islands, and is the permanent home of about eight hundred people.

The base is about two hundred and sixty years old, and was built by the Finnish before being a Russian settlement when Finland joins their country. After the Russian revolution in the early 1900s, Finland declares independence, and after World War II it is given into the hands of the government. It was used to defend Helsinki from incoming ships, and features strategically placed cannons on just about every corner of the entry route. I headed over there with the public transport pass we got, as it's actually a commuter route and was included in the travel zones.

It was a perfect day, with clear skies and barely a cloud anywhere. The boat was quick, and soon I was strolling through the old buildings with only a few tourists around. I was glad I'd left it from yesterday, because it turned out to be a blessing. No real crowds, space to roam and actually a surprising amount of wilderness. It isn't entirely fortress, with large expanses of rolling hills and undergrowth. There are several restaurants and cafes on the island, and a signposted tourist route down the middle. I avoided that thoroughfare and pushed outwards into the fringes, finding a dry docked submarine and other delights in nooks and crannies.

After lunch, and some more time exploring the remnants of the walls, I headed out into the smaller islands via the connecting bridges. They were even less sparsely populated, with a military installation that still houses soldiers, and, beyond that, a few cannons. On the tip of the furthest island, I scampered up a hill and settled on an old wall, just watching the ships roll by into the harbour as the sun slowly drifted west. Then I ambled back towards the dock and headed back into town.

Our place here is pretty nice, despite the lack of Wi-Fi and a toaster, but what it lacks in bread-cooking devices it makes up for in washing facilities. One euro, and the machine downstairs does a load, and then there's free tumble drying. I just realised what I wrote. Is this what this trip has become? Excitement about doing affordable washing? Yes. Yes it has. Clean clothes are an unappreciated luxury. Thank your mothers.