A Travellerspoint blog

Packing tip # 2

If you have bangs- or want straight hair- you need a round brush . In my effort to consolidate and pack effiently, I thought I had a multi purpose brush- I was wrong.

We took the high speed train to St Petersburg. This is very easy. To enter Russia, Americans require a visa. Not necessarily difficult, however you should use a connected travel agent. If on a cruise, you will not need one, however, you can only exit the boat on cruise tours. No dinners out, no wandering, groups of 50 following woman with stick/umbrella and a sticker announcing tour #- fun.

The travel agent can make or break your trip. I had a good recommendation; however, the level of service varies, and I would not recommend mine since he almost lost my passports, I had to refine the itinerary many times and the information was never complete. My " A" type personality with his Russian ego- not so good. I would like to thank all my neighbors, Jessie and Katia that went on the find my passport adventure when it was delivered without a signature and when I was away.

On the train, your documents are checked all the time. I didn't mind the Finnish side, the Russian border control had a lack of deodorant issue- which was worse than most nasty infections I encounter.

The train was 3.5 hours and a cool experience.

Posted by Jcarrara 20:05 Archived in Russia Tagged luxury_travel Comments (0)


What to pack

sunny 18 °C
View Europe 2012 on Jcarrara's travel map.

This trip started with the usual packing anxiety. All the research stated the normal temperatures would be between 55-74. The books also said how the people love summer and name the beaches and summer spots. I thought- this may be a warm 70. I remembered Amsterdam last year- July 2, and I wished for a winter coat.

My 2nd dilemma- can I pack in a carry on and back pack? Well, I bought trendy colored capri's and jeans, 5 white 5 off white tee shirts, in addition to my other items-compression bags are always handy. All I can say is, I'm happy I took a few tank tops out- I'm sure it will help my bag from bursting at the seams.

The rush to the airport is always an added benefit. Who would think it would take 40 minutes on a Wednesday afternoon? We arrived and had enough time to get an Us magazine. The flight was great. Had wine, meal and slept and next I knew, we were landing.

We took the Finnair express bus into the city. Very easy and cheap. We walked 10 minutes to our Hotel. The sun was shining and the weather was on the cooler side. I wish I had taken out all the tank tops. We stayed at the Hotel Kamp- part of the Starwood chain. The hotel was on the Esplande- Michigan Ave. Surrounded by all the designer shops, bars and central location. Our room was ready, an unexpected bonus at 10 am. The room was great. Freshened up, and off we went to explore the city. The city is very walkable. We headed to the fine art museum and went astray. We followed some other tourists to a Rock Church. Built into rock, with brass accented ceiling- modern design. We then found our way to the fine art museum- I think you can cross this off your list. We headed to the market. Indoor and outdoor farmer's market with crafts and jewelry mixed in. I advise the indoor market unless you have a taste for reindeer stir fry or salmon soup. We found a soup stall and had great bowls of bouillabaisse and Mexican beef soup. The area was crowded, due to the 3 cruise ships in the harbor.

We then went into the Russian and Lutheran churches- so different. Visited the main square, Library, Finnish art museum and train station. Jet lag set in, and we returned to nap. We pretty much explored the city in a few hours.

Helsinki is not so much a touring city. Locals love to sit outside and drink. My kind of town. So many people having beer, coffee and mini bottles of champagne. The main boulevard the Esplande, is divided by a strip of park. All ages were sitting out with bottles of wine- blankets for warmth, picnics and enjoying the outside. They all seemed happy. It wasn't a busy or crowded city. It is very clean. Everyone crosses at corners and they wait for the green walk light- even if there are no cars, buses or trams in sight. You feel like you have to wait. Eventually Lincoln realized I wasn't joining him in the illegal crossings and he waited with me.

We didn't plan dinner. It was 10 pm and it could have been 10 am. The white nights are amazing, however, most restaurants stop serving dinner
at 10/11 pm. We had some drinks and returned to the hotel's cafe. They were busy and service reflected it. We ordered a seafood tower- this was not like Smith and Wollenski's. The Shrimp had heads, eyes, tails; fried herring, scallops and raw salmon- not like sashimi. I took a pass after decapitating a shrimp. Lincoln loved the herring- at the time.

Today, we had some time to kill before our train to St. Petersburg. We wandered into shops and tried some local customs- drinking Irish coffees between shops. We stumbled into the start of the Pride Parade. Much smaller than most, however full of fun and spirit. The police are not noticeable in the city and the few here to control the 2 protestors seemed out of place.

Overall, Helsinki is a great place to stop on a cruise or pass through on the way to St. Petersburg. I noticed air specials using Helsinki as a stop on route to other European destinations. We are here for the same reason. I think if you have an opportunity to visit, this city is easy, stressfree and offers great shopping.

Posted by Jcarrara 06:07 Archived in Finland Comments (1)

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