Angela and I recently returned from a whirlwind tour of Scandinavia. We stopped in Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen, and Helsinki and took a day trip to Tallinn, Estonia. This trip was essentially the opposite of our previous journey to Bali. While we spent a substantial amount of time relaxing during that trip, we never stopped moving on this one.
The impetus for this trip was burning down our stockpile of Delta SkyMiles. Last year, it became apparent to those of us paying attention that Delta was going to drastically increase the price of business class awards from the USA. As such, I found and booked a partner award that had yet to be devalued. Three days later, the same award seats were pricing out at four times what I had paid.
We enjoyed our first time in Scandinavia, but we didn’t fall in love with any of the Nordic cities we visited. We also concluded, after so much moving around over the course of eleven days, that we aren’t the type of travelers that enjoy country hopping every couple of nights.
All that being said, we enjoyed the time we spent together exploring five new-to-us destinations. We visited several exceptional museums and most of the cafes we stopped at offered great coffee and delicious treats. Our various ferry rides, which I’ll detail in the post, were great. Neither of us regret taking this trip or the way it was structured, but neither would we recommend this itinerary to others.
Unlike most of our other recent travels, this itinerary was mostly set in stone for ten months. The only things that changed were last minute additions, like our trip to Tallinn via ferry, or completely involuntary on our part. As I mentioned above, the first part of this trip booked was the outbound flight to Stockholm, Sweden, using Delta SkyMiles. After that, everything else kind of fell into place.
Our return flights to the United States changed, and I couldn’t have been happier. Finnair rarely releases more than a single seat in Business Class on each of their flights to the United States. As such, when I originally booked the inbound segments, I was flying to Seattle while Angela was transiting Los Angeles. Luckily for us, Finnair canceled their Seattle bound flights entirely and placed me on the Los Angeles flight.
The only unfortunate thing was that Alaska changed the schedule of their flights from Los Angeles such that the time between our arrival from Helsinki and the departure of the last Las Vegas bound Alaska Airlines flight of the day was too short. We were bumped to the first flight the following day. This meant we’d be forced to overnight at LAX.
I decided that I didn’t feel like doing that and booked a separate flight to Las Vegas on United Airlines so we could get home the same day that we left Helsinki.
- Angela and Nicholas
- 120,000 Delta SkyMiles + 23.60USD per person
- LAS-AMS on KL J
- AMS-ARN on KL J
- 6,000 United Airlines Mileage Plus Miles + 22.00USD per person
- ARN-OSL on SK Y
- 70,000 Alaska Mileage Plan Miles + 63.85USD per person
- CPH-HEL on AY J
- HEL-LAX on AY J
- 218.40USD per person
- LAX-LAS on UA J
- 120,000 Delta SkyMiles + 23.60USD per person
I should have done a better job of gardening my hotel reservations. The price of the Bank Hotel in Stockholm dropped precipitously between when I initially booked it and the dates of our stay leading to a relative poor value for our World of Hyatt points. I should have changed it to a cash booking and put the points back in my pocket to use for future travel.
That being said, each of the properties we stayed at was nice and centrally located to things that we wanted to do. The hotels I booked through American Express’s Fine Hotels & Resorts program honored their benefits without any prompting. Being proactively offered late checkout by a knowledgeable agent is much more pleasant than having to remind the hotel of their obligations.
- One room for three nights at the Bank Hotel for 20,000 World of Hyatt Points per night
- One room for two nights at the Amerikalinjen Hotel for 168.08USD per night, inclusive of taxes and after credits, through The Hotel Collection via American Express
- One room for two nights at the Villa Copenhagen for 206.88USD per night, inclusive of taxes and after credits, through the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts program
- One room for three nights at the Hilton Helsinki Strand for an average of 35,000 Hilton Honors Points per night
We pre-purchased transit for several parts of our trip. I was surprised that our round-trip ferry trip to Estonia cost less per person than our round-trip train ticket on the Arlanda Express. I think that shows just how expensive the Nordic countries are.
- Two round-trip tickets on the Arlanda Express for 420.00SEK per ticket
- One 2-bed Commodore Deluxe Double Bed Cabin with Sea View on the DFDS overnight ferry from Oslo to Copenhagen for 315.00EUR
- Two round-trip Star Class tickets on the Tallink Helsinki-to-Tallinn ferry for 31.00EUR per ticket
After dropping Fitz at boarding, we packed up and hopped in the car that I’d pre-booked for our trip to the airport. Check-in was smooth and we were able to grab a bite to eat in the Centurion Lounge before departing on time.
The direct flight to Amsterdam from Las Vegas is convenient but I wish it was timed differently. Leaving in the middle of the afternoon with lengthy meal services after take-off and before landing doesn’t leave much time for sleep. The overhead lights weren’t turned off until almost three hours after takeoff and then were turned back on with two hours left until landing. In addition, the cabin temperature fluctuated wildly during the flight, starting off very cold before heating up to an uncomfortable degree.
It wasn’t all bad, though. While I ate dinner in the lounge before departure, the on-board dessert was delicious. Service was friendly, if a little frantic. It seemed like half the people on Angela’s side of the plane got skipped during drink service for some reason. I also enjoyed the French toast served prior to landing alongside fresh orange juice and a ginger detox shot. Finally, I love getting the Delft Houses and we’ve accrued a nice little collection at this point.
We will definitely fly LAS-AMS on KLM again because it is so convenient to have a non-stop flight to Europe. We will just approach it differently next time, skipping both meal services and putting on our blackout eye masks as soon as we takeoff.
Once we landed in Amsterdam, we proceeded through immigration to enter the Schengen Zone. Luckily, because all of the countries we’d be visiting are in the Schengen Zone, we only had to perform immigration formalities once.
It took us thirty minutes to clear the queue. After transferring terminals, we headed to the Crown Lounge and grabbed some light bites before relaxing until our next flight.
The flight to Stockholm was pleasant, with our seats in the standard intra-Europe business configuration with a blocked middle seat. We enjoyed the meal on the flight and, before we knew it, we were in Sweden.
After collecting our bags, we walked to the Arlanda Express platform. We took the express train to Stockholm Central Station and then connected to the Stockholm metro system to take a train one stop to Kungstradgarden Station. I was happy to see how nice the metro stations are, with art displays and various statues scattered around. It is great when a city takes pride in its public transit.
Exiting the station, we walked two minutes to our hotel. Check-in was friendly, but not very efficient. The agent, who was extremely nice and apologetic, had to repeatedly call someone to check if our room was ready even though it was already 1900. We liked our room, especially the shower, but found the bed a bit softer than we prefer.
After dropping our bags off, we walked around the area close to the hotel for a little bit. This included the two nearby parks, Berzelii Park and Kungstradgarden. We stopped to take a few photos of the Swedish Parliament, lit dramatically at night, before returning to our hotel to get some sleep.
The breakfast spread at Bank Hotel was small but high-quality and emphasized traditional Swedish breakfast cuisine. There was a small variety of meats and cheeses along with Swedish rye bread and roe paste. In addition, eggs of any type were available from the kitchen alongside espresso drinks and delicious filtered coffee.
After breakfast, we bundled up and walked to the Vasa Museum, a large exhibition hall containing a preserved sailing ship from the 1600s that sank in Stockholm Harbor on its first voyage. We enjoyed the walk and stopped to grab some pictures along the way.
To save you some reading, the ship was inherently unstable and tipped over due to light wind when leaving port. It likely would have righted itself and made it out of the harbor if it didn’t have its gun ports open in salute, but it is unlikely that it would have fared well on the open sea.
The ship itself is a stunning sight and very unique. The ecosystem in Stockholm harbor means that it is very well-preserved, and because of its historic value, the utmost care was taken when it was lifted from the sea floor in the 1960s. I don’t think there’s anywhere else in the world that you can see a similar artifact.
The museum features a free audio guide on their website. We brought our earbuds to listen to it as we walked around and thoroughly enjoyed the forty-five minutes of well-done audio narration. In addition, the museum offers free storage lockers. We found this was true of most of the museums we visited on this trip, a pleasant surprise compared to similar situations in the United States.
After leaving the Vasa Museum, we visited the Royal Armory of Sweden which hosts two distinct exhibits. The first displays royal and aristocratic coaches from Swedish history, including many used during marriage processions and a few that were converted to sleighs.
The other exhibit is a history of the Swedish monarchy told through the distinct dynasties that have occupied the throne. Unlike other royal armories we’ve visited throughout Europe, this one had less of an emphasis on the actual weapons of war used by the state and more on particularly important artifacts that tell the story of the monarchy.
The museum was akin to an in-person history book. I appreciated this because, in the lead-up to this trip I went looking for a well-reviewed book on Swedish history and couldn’t find one in English. This museum scratched the itch for me that a book would otherwise have done.
Two of the most interesting artifacts are the hat and gloves that King Charles XII was wearing when he was shot through the temple while inspecting a fortification. It was fascinating to see a physical reminder of such a momentous historical occasion.
We walked around the old city area, viewing the exteriors of the Storkyrkan and Riddarholmskyrkan and snapping a few pictures. After that, we headed to a hill across the river that offered an outstanding view of the old city.
After leaving the cafe, we walked back to the hotel and called it a successful day.
After breakfast, we walked to the Royal Palace and purchased tickets to all exhibits, including the special Double Jubilee celebration. We started with the special exhibition, highlighting artifacts from the history of the Swedish monarchy and discussing the Double Jubilee in 2023 of both the monarchy founded by Gustav Vasa and the current monarch, King Carl XVI Gustaf.
We then visited the Royal Apartments to see where the monarchs resided and entertained visitors. I particularly liked the room from King Carl XVI Gustaf’s 25th Jubilee which is designed in the modern Scandinavian style.
After the apartments, we spent a very brief time perusing an exhibit on the royal orders that are conferred by the Swedish monarchy. Interestingly, Sweden was one of the last nations in Europe to create honors that could be awarded. I particularly liked the crests that were created for orders awarded to foreign heads of state. We were also able to look in to the Hall of State, which is currently closed to visitors as a result of recent Jubilee celebrations.
Our next stop was Tre Kronor, the historic castle that is part of the Royal Palace complex. We descended underground and examined the foundations of a structure that was transformed into a royal castle in the middle of the thirteenth century.
Finally, we visited the Treasury to view the Swedish crown jewels. The exhibits in the Treasury are a little underwhelming. The crowns are muted and, while beautiful, can’t hold a candle to something like the Crown Jewels of Great Britain. Some of the swords used by early kings are neat to see and were probably the most unique and interesting artifacts.
We stopped at Hanks Cafe for a break and ordered a couple of buns and some delicious cappuccinos. The coffee was great and the pastries were top-notch. We highly recommend a stop here if you find yourself in Stockholm.
After our afternoon treat, we took the metro across the city to a stop near Djurgården, a huge park covering an entire island. We spent the next couple of hours walking the entire circumference of the park, enjoying the autumnal landscapes.
We returned to the hotel to rest our feet for a little bit before heading to The Hairy Pig for dinner. We ordered the Moose Burger Platter and The Hairy Pig Platter so that we could sample a few different things. The coleslaw was mediocre, but the sausage and moose burger were both fantastic and the fries were cooked perfectly. I thought the meal was somewhat expensive, but I eventually learned that’s just how much food costs in Scandinavia.
On the way back to our hotel, we stopped at Hank’s Cafe again to pick up a prinsesstårta, a traditional Swedish dessert. We brought it back to the hotel and enjoyed it in our room. Angela said that the treat redeemed Sweden in her mind.
After breakfast, we walked to the metro station and returned to the airport via Helsinki Central Station and the Arlanda Express. We checked in at a kiosk, printed our boarding passes and baggage tags, and dropped our bags off. The security checkpoint was simple to navigate and we cleared it in less than five minutes. After security, we visited the SAS Gold Lounge to relax before our flight. I had a couple of cookies and a coffee while Angela had some soup. The lounge had ample seating and a good view of the tarmac. I was also impressed to see that the lounge had ample vegan and gluten-free options.
Unfortunately, there was an equipment swap for our flight and we were assigned seats in the last row of the plane. Luckily, the flight was only an hour long and so we didn’t have to deal with the inconvenience for too long.
After deplaning, we picked up our bags before proceeding to the train to Oslo Central Station. Conveniently, the ticket gate accepts Google Pay so we just had to tap our phones and walk to the platform.
Our hotel was right outside the train station and we were able to check-in slightly early and get access to our room immediately. The receptionist explained the benefits associated with our booking and requested that we make a reservation for breakfast. I booked our stay in Oslo at the former headquarters of the Norwegian America Line. I loved our stay at Amerikalinjen and highly recommend it for any visitors to Oslo.
After dropping our bags in our room, we walked along the main pedestrian pathway in the city, Karl Johans Gate. We stopped to take pictures of the Norwegian Parliament, National Theatre, and Oslo City Hall before arriving at the National Museum of Norway.
We both loved the National Museum. There is an official app that will walk you through the highlights of the entire collection. There are so many beautiful pieces. Angela and I were particularly enamored of the Norwegian landscape paintings.
We left the museum at 1945 and stopped at MAX Burgers for a taste of Scandinavian fast food. This was the first of many burgers we each had on our trip. We both ordered the Double Original Combo. I chose onion rings and a chocolate shake to accompany my burger while Angela opted for fries and a Sprite Zero. The meal was tasty and much better than almost all fast food options in the United States, but that quality certainly didn’t come cheap – the meal cost almost 40USD.
When we returned to the room, we found a pair of cookies waiting for us, a wonderful treat from housekeeping.
The breakfast at Amerikalinjen was a delight. In addition to several a la carte options, the buffet had a variety of traditionally Scandinavian breakfast foods, including brown cheese, and a large array of delicious treats.
After breakfast, we walked to Akershus Slottskirke. We started with a self-guided walking tour through the grounds, taking pictures along the way.
Once we finished our morning walk, we visited the Resistance Museum, which details Nazi Germany’s occupation of Norway and the Norwegian response to said occupation. The museum has a variety of cool exhibits, including a large number of dioramas portraying resistance actions throughout World War II. Most important artifacts have an English description accompanying the Norwegian one.
After the Resistance Museum, we stopped briefly at the fortress’s visitor center. There was an exhibit on Queen Margaret I of Denmark, who ruled over the entirety of Scandinavia during her life. It was quite fascinating to read her story and see some props from a film that follows her life. In addition, the visitor center had a few artifacts from the history of the fortress, including a murder weapon wielded by one of the inmates at the prison that was integrated into the site.
Next, we visited the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum. This particular museum is probably skippable for most people. While there were a few artifacts that I found interesting, particularly a set of flags that Norway used throughout its history, it was fairly light in content.
We left the fortress complex and walked along the waterfront to the Tjuvholmen Sculpture Park. The few pieces on display at the time were underwhelming, but the walk to the park was pleasant. We assume that the boardwalk would be a very busy place during the nicer summer months.
On the way back to our hotel, we stopped at W.B. Samson for some filtered coffee and treats. I chose the cinnamon roll and Angela decided to try the classic Norwegian treat Skolebrød. Angela’s pastry was very tasty and my cinnamon roll might be the best I’ve ever had outside of our home.
When we arrived at the hotel, we decided to stop by the gym for a quick workout. The gym at Amerikalinjen is very nice, with a full squat rack, various cardio machines, and a large variety of free weights and weight machines.
After our workout, we headed to the hotel restaurant for dinner to use the dining credit included as part of our reservation. Angela ordered their signature drink, the Oslopolitan, we both chose burger and fries for our entree, and split a chocolate lava cake for dessert. The meal was delicious, and Angela loved her drink. I was happy to use our credit for a free meal after seeing how expensive the food was in Oslo!
After breakfast, we walked to the local grocery store to buy some sandwiches, snacks, and drinks for our overnight ferry ride. With no idea how expensive food on the ship would be, we figured we’d play it safe and grab some stuff in advance.
We returned to the hotel and worked out before freshening up, checking out, and walking to the ferry terminal. Conveniently, the terminal was only a fifteen-minute walk from the hotel, so it was easy to make with luggage.
After handing over my passport, we were given our boarding cards which doubled as room keys. We boarded the ship, dropped our luggage in our cabin, and headed to the upper deck to take a look around. On the way, we stopped at the reception desk to retrieve our WiFi codes included as part of our booking.
Shortly thereafter, we visited the Commodore Lounge for some light snacks and drinks. As we got underway, we returned to our room to eat our sandwiches and enjoy the view of the sea through the large windows in our cabin. After an hour, we returned to the lounge for some dessert and to watch the day turn to night as we traversed Oslofjord.
Once the night sky was fully dark, we ventured back to our cabin to get some much-needed sleep. The bed was comfortable, but the pillows left a lot to be desired, unfortunately. I did enjoy the gentle rocking of the ship throughout the night, though.
After waking up, we went to the special Commodore Breakfast on the 8th floor of the ship. This is a separate breakfast for suite passengers, distinct from the standard breakfast buffet. The coffee was tasty, and the buffet had a nice selection of breakfast options. After breakfast, we packed up and departed the ferry at 0930.
We walked to the Nordhavn metro station, located about a kilometer from the ferry terminal, and purchased tickets for our ride to Copenhagen Central Station. Unfortunately, Copenhagen’s public transit system is not as convenient as Stockholm’s or Oslo’s, requiring point-to-point tickets purchased in advance. Hopefully they transition to the acceptance of contactless payments soon.
Our hotel was located directly across the street from the station. We dropped our bags with the front desk before heading out for a walk around Copenhagen. We set off through the cold and the wind to Copenhagen City Hall where we took some pictures of the exterior.
We then walked down Strøget, the famous pedestrian street full of shopping and restaurants. Before long, we arrived at the Rundetaarn (Round Tower). With a long and storied history, we were excited to walk the steps trodden by so many important figures, including Catherine the Great and Hans Christian Anderson.
When we visited, the tower was hosting an exhibit on the history of wolves in Denmark, including the complete removal of wolves from the country.
Leaving the tower, we walked to New King’s Square and the nearby Memorial Anchor before snapping some shots of the famously picturesque Nyhavn area.
We briefly stopped at Frederiks Kirke for some pictures of the famous Marble Church.
After Nyhavn, we walked to the Kastellet. On the way, we stopped at the Museum of Danish Resistance. The museum follows the lives of five Danes during World War II, four of whom were part of the underground resistance and one of whom was a Nazi Party member. I really enjoyed the museum and thought it did a good job giving a human face to a conflict that can so often be reduced to horrendous statistics.
After leaving the museum, we stopped to take some photos of the Little Mermaid statue. Walking along the pathway next to the water was quite the challenge as the wind was gusting so hard that we had to lean forward as we made our way to the statue.
We entered the Kastellet and walked around the fortress complex. This specific fortress is one of the best preserved in all of Northern Europe. It also houses one of the oldest continuous operating mills in the world.
On the way back to the hotel we picked up a hot dog that Copenhagen is, supposedly, famous for. We were unimpressed by the offering, but it served to stave of the onset of hunger.
We stopped at the hotel to check-in and put our bags into our room. The room was very nice, with high-quality finishes and lovely toiletries. The hotel was also kind enough to gift us Scandinavian hand lotion that smells like the woods. One odd thing about Villa Copenhagen is that they do not offer complimentary slippers even though there is a large sign in the room about calling and asking for them. When I called down to get some, they told me that I could pay for slippers if I was happy with the offering.
We decided to have a casual dinner and stopped at Tivoli Food Court near our hotel where we grabbed some burgers at Cocks and Cows. I ordered the Governator, with multiple patties, and Angela opted for the Cheese + Smoke burger. I tried the local soft drink, Faxe Kondi, while Angela opted for a local pilsner. We split a basket of fries. The meal was quite good and exactly what we were looking for.
The breakfast at Villa Copenhagen was good, but not as tasty as the spread in either Stockholm or Oslo. The pastries were the best part of the breakfast buffet, as they are made in-house at the bakery on site.
After breakfast, we bundled up and walked to the National Museum of Denmark. Unlike the National Museum in Norway, the National Museum of Denmark is a history museum, from the earliest days of human settlement in Denmark through the current day. On the way there, we passed by an interesting piece of art protesting the demolition of a pedestrian square in order to turn it into a parking garage.
The best part of the museum, and what we were most excited to see, was the temporary Viking exhibit which we were lucky enough to visit during its last week. It included a range of unique artifacts alongside a bevy of information that is only available at this particular museum. In addition, there was a short movie in five parts that followed a Viking raid and its outcome.
The remainder of the museum was pretty standard in terms of the content covered. We think it is worth a visit for the Viking exhibit, but wouldn’t plan on spending a lot of time in the rest of the museum.
After leaving the museum, we walked to Andersen Bakery for a couple of delightful flat whites, a custard Danish, and a cardamom bun. The treats were delicious and the coffee was very good. They also had a Halloween-themed sculpture entirely made of chocolate. We strongly recommend a visit if you’re in the area.
On the way back to the hotel, we took a brief stroll through the Glyptoteket sculpture garden.
We returned to the hotel and headed to the gym for a quick workout. Unfortunately, Villa Copenhagen’s gym is quite cramped and, if there’s more than one other person in the free weight area, there’s not a ton of room to move around.
After freshening up, we headed to Kontrast, the hotel’s restaurant, to use the dining credit attached to our stay. We had a sumptuous meal with a pair of delicious starters, a couple of Danish rib-eyes, and an absolutely delightful molten lava cake for dessert. The dessert, in particular, is one of the best we’ve ever had with a layers of cookie dough, warm brownie, molten chocolate, and the most delicious hazelnut ice cream.
After a pastry-filled breakfast, we set off for the Copenhagen Botanical Garden. Unfortunately, half of the park was closed, but we enjoyed the half that was open. After exiting the botanical garden, we walked to Østre Anlæg, a beautiful park nearby.
On the walk back to our hotel, we took a brief detour through the King’s Garden.
Upon returning from our walk, we freshened up, checked out, and walked across the street to the train station. The ride to Copenhagen Airport lasted thirteen minutes. When we arrived, we checked in, retrieved our boarding passes and lounge invitations, and headed through security.
Once in the lounge, Angela sampled most of the items on the small buffet while I ate seven veal meatballs and had a cup of coffee. Everything was fairly tasty and, while small, the lounge was nice enough to spend an hour in. I also liked the feel of Copenhagen Airport, in general. For instance, there were a few of these tasteful living walls sprinkled throughout the terminal.
Our flight boarded a few minutes late but took off on time. During the journey, we were served a very tasty ravioli dish with spinach alongside roast beef with fennel and dill. In addition, service was excellent during the ninety-minute trip.
After landing in Helsinki and collecting our baggage, we walked to the train station, purchased tickets at a zone-based kiosk, and took a quick ride to Helsinki Central Station. After disembarking from the train, we walked a kilometer to our hotel for the final three nights of our trip. Check-in was efficient and friendly. The room was large and comfortable with a firm king-sized bed and excellent blackout curtains.
Breakfast at the Hilton was typical business hotel fare with some additional Finnish specialties including egg butter and Karelian pies. After eating our fill, we walked to the ferry that would take us to Suommenlinna. On the way, we passed by the Helsinki Cathedral and a statue of Emperor Alexander II of Russia.
We took the ferry to Suommenlinna Fortress and walked around the entire island. The highlight of the visit was the Suommenlinna Museum. The ground-floor has a number of interesting artifacts from the fortress’s history, a short video on the various battles at the fortress, and some well-written signs about life on site.
The second floor hosted an exhibit on the conservation and restoration of structures and landscapes on the island. I found it interesting how the guidelines for construction specify that a best effort should be made to fit new construction in with the old facades and that reconstructed interiors should match, as closely as possible, their original designs.
Continuing on from the museum, we made our way to the King’s Gate at the far end of the island, visiting the various shore batteries that were left in place and taking some pictures along the way.
To be honest, the island was much smaller than we expected, taking thirteen minutes to walk from one end to the other. We departed on a ferry in the early afternoon and walked to Uspenski Cathedral for a picture of the exterior.
After that, it was time for coffee and cake. We stopped at Johan & Nyström and enjoyed a chocolate-lingonberry cake alongside some flat whites. Like most of our other afternoon snacks, everything was delicious.
Our next stop was the National Library of Finland. After entering through a very unassuming exterior door, you’re treated to a beautiful hall of books and periodicals. The scene is like something out of Beauty and the Beast!
We returned to the hotel and relaxed in the Executive Lounge for a little bit. The lounge was comfortable with excellent seating options and a decent drink machine that produced some excellent hot chocolates. After a short while, we got dressed and headed to Rivatola Savotta, a restaurant serving traditional Finnish food.
The meal was lovely, and the service was great. For starters, we ordered the Supreme Savotta sampler and the small portion of northern bear. For our main courses, we split the elk burger and reindeer roast. For me, the bear did not possess the taste that I expected. I was looking forward to a strong, gamey taste and it was much milder than that.
We strongly recommend visiting this restaurant if you’re in Helsinki as it was the highlight of our time in the city.
Our walk back to the hotel was cool, but pleasant, and I snapped a shot of the Helsinki Cathedral lit dramatically.
When we returned to the hotel, we decided that we wanted to go to Estonia the following day. I visited the lounge and booked us round-trip tickets on the ferry leaving the following morning with a return in the evening.
After breakfast, we walked the three miles to the Tallink ferry terminal, boarding at 0950 for departure at 1030. Boarding gates for this particular ferry close twenty minutes in advance of departure. We spent the outbound journey lounge in the cafe area, enjoying the smooth ride. There are USB ports and power plugs at almost every seat, which I really appreciated.
Two hours later, we disembarked in Tallinn and walked to the Old City. The historical district is fairly small, and we walked around the entirety of it in less than an hour, taking plenty of pictures along the way. Angela found us a few cool viewpoints from which to see the entirety of the area.
We next went to the Chocolala Chocolate Museum, which covers the development of the chocolate industry in Estonia and general chocolate making. After a self-guided tour, we purchased nine of the best chocolate truffles we’ve ever had. They were quite cheap, especially considering how high-quality they were. In addition, because we visited the museum, we were each gifted a truffle for free.
While in Tallin, we stopped at two cafes. Kehrwieder Saiakang Chocolaterie was adjacent to the main square and advertised itself as the Best Coffee Shop in Tallin. We disagree with this assessment. The two specialty drinks we ordered were simply decent lattes with some spice sprinkle on stop. In addition, they were quite expensive and certainly qualified as tourist prices. We would not recommend this place, even though you do get to sit in a cave-like room with a vibrant green wall.
Leaving the disappointing cafe, we walked across town to Tallinn’s central train station and the adjoining market. We were lucky to have some of the best coffee of our lives at Surf Cafe. The flat whites we ordered were perfect and about half the price of our previous lattes.
We wandered around the market for half-an-hour before deciding we were hungry and grabbing some fantastic burgers from VLND Burger. We loved both the burger and the fries and would definitely recommend a stop if you’re hungry.
After a late lunch, we spent the remainder of the afternoon wandering around various parks before returning to the ferry terminal. Our day in Tallinn was probably our favorite day of the entire trip. The sun was shining, the weather was beautiful, and the city was absolutely charming. We returned the ferry around 1830, boarded at 1850, and were underway early at 1915. When we arrived in Helsinki, we rode the tram to a stop close to our hotel and then walked the remaining half kilometer.
After breakfast, we relaxed for a bit before packing up and heading to the airport. Our walk to Helsinki Central Station was punctuated by some snow flurries. When we arrived at the station, we had to jog to the farthest platform in order to catch the next scheduled departure to Helsinki airport.
When we arrived at the airport, we checked in with the priority desk, cleared security, and headed to the Platinum Wings Lounge. We had access to the lounge because of my Oneworld Emerald status. I was very glad to have access because Angela and I had some delicious reindeer burgers – I was a glutton and ordered two – before grabbing a coffee and relaxing until it was time to head to our gate.
After arriving at the gate, we were herded into a secondary waiting area before boarding the plane. Our flight featured Finnair’s newest business class product and, while I initially had a favorable impression of the seats, I eventually found myself hating them. Sitting for a prolonged period of time was extremely uncomfortable because of the firmness of the cushioning and the fact that there is no reclined position means you’re either sitting straight up or laying at a strange angle given the confines of the seat.
Of course, it wasn’t all bad. The service on the flight was very attentive and friendly. Angela also enjoyed the signature drink, Northern Blush.
We would not recommend flying this particular product. The service was very nice from the Finnair crew, but the seats are a huge letdown, especially compared to other products that can take you to-and-from Europe.
When we arrived in LAX, we picked up our bags, walked to the United terminal, and hopped on a short flight home to finish our trip.