After two very busy days in St Petersburg, we had a quiet evening on board the ship, as we cruised at a sedate speed, the few miles from St Petersburg to Helsinki, Finland. Arriving early in the morning, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in the restaurant before heading ashore for our tour. We signed up for a ship’s tour to Porvoo, one of Finland’s six medieval towns that dates from the 14th Century.
Located about 30 miles East of Helsinki, we spent about an hour on the bus before arriving in the old town.
We had originally booked a similar tour with Alla Tours, but it required a minimum of 10 passengers and we only had 5. While Alla scheduled the Tallinn tour with only 5 passengers, they were unable to host tours in Helsinki, or Stockholm with those limited numbers. Therefore, we had to resort to a ships tour, with about 50 new friends on a full sized bus. Big difference to the group of 10 in St Petersburg.
Departing the ship we headed through Helsinki, with the guide pointing out attractions, then we had about 25 miles of motorway driving, before arriving in a rather foggy Porvoo.
Looking down the Porvoonjoki River from bus park (after fog lifted)
From the bus park, where we were on 1 of 3 buses from the ship, we crossed the river on an old bridge, entering the cobble-stoned streets of the medieval town.
Old Bridge we crossed to reach the medieval town
Waterfront homes when crossing the bridge
As a group, all 3 bus loads walked up to the old town square, where we split into our respective groups and our guides provided some information, before giving us free time to explore.
Porvoo Old Town Square
From the Square the old town has 2 streets going downhill, with a good selection of cafes, gift shops and other stores. Judi and I wandered down 1 street and back up the other side, checking out a few shops.
Returning to the Square, I headed uphill to check out the church, while Judi walked around a few more shops.
Porvoo Old Town Hall, built 1762-64, it is Finland’s oldest town hall. It is now a museum
Cafe Fenny at Town Square
Start of the climb up to the church from the Square
Porvoo church panorama
View of the river from the church
Departing the church, I headed back down hill, finding Judi at the Square. Having basically walked the entire Old Town, we decided to find a cafe to enjoy a pot of tea. Passing Cafe Helmi, a young lady was putting up a sign, so we asked if they were open. She replied 11:00 (about 1/2hr) but we were welcome to come in and sit while she completed the preparations. After about 20 mins she made a couple pots of tea, using real loose tea, with properly boiling water. We both enjoyed a delicious slice of cake, washed down with a cup of tea.
Cafe Helmi where we enjoyed a pot of tea
Inside Cafe Helmi
Returning to Helsinki, we stopped at Senate Square, where we again had some free time for photos.
Judi in front of steps leading up to Helsinki Cathedral
Looking down on Senate Square from Helsinki Cathedral
Senate Square Panorama
Monument and statue of Alexander II
University of Helsinki, one of many government buildings around Senate Square
One of many trams, which operate throughout the city. One of the ship tours actually included a day riding the trams
Departing the Square, we returned to the ship about 1/2 hour before departure. For a ship’s tour it was definitely average, well below the standard we received in St Petersburg. However, we were very impressed with the small part of Finland we visited. Everything was spotlessly clean, the road network was excellent and the people were all very friendly.
Next post – Stockholm, Sweden our final port this cruise