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Since it is not blocked by the Archiapelago Islands like Turku, Helsinki is much colder. This was something that I didn’t plan for but after you walk around outside in below freezing temperatures for a few hours, you kind of just forget how cold you are.

When we arrived in the country’s capital, we jumped on the ferry to Suomenlinna, an old fortress. It is a short 15 minute ride out to the island.

Just a couple small portions of the beautiful Suomenlinna. There are shelters built into the ground almost everywhere you look.

The views were absolutely gorgeous: sun was shining, skies were blue, and the sea went on forever.

My travel companions, Yasuhito and Junko, on the edge of Suomenlinna.

Large stone walls surrounded the island. These walls had strategically placed holes for lookouts, cannons, or the barrel of a gun.

We weren't able to climb all the way up, of course. But we had to try!

We got to visit a couple of cathedrals in country’s capital. Since Finland was once part of Russia, the architecture of the old buildings still holds the Russian style.

We were able to go into the first which was filled with paintings and candles. The second had a service being held so we didn't get to explore the inside.

The Olympics were held in Helsinki in 1952 and the old stadium is still open as a museum. Part of the stadium includes a tower that overlooks the city.

The elevator of the tower takes you up only part way to the top. The rest of the way (only about 2 flights) is stairs that are expose to outside. So, it was a very chilly sightseeing event but totally worth it.

To warm ourselves up at the end of the night, we headed to the pub and enjoyed some Gloggi. It’s a traditional hot drink made of fruit, spices, and sugar. For a nice evening beverage, it’s served with hot red wine mixed in, too, with a few almonds and raisins in the bottom of the mug. We needed an additional kick so we ordered Salmiakki shots, another traditional drink here. Salmiakki is a very popular candy that tastes like salty black licorice. The Finns have a unique palate. The shot is Salmiakki-flavored vodka that very dark and somewhat viscous.

The “cheers” here usually take some time because we say it in every language possible. Since I was only with my Japanese friends, we said “Kanpai, Kippis, Cheers” to represent Japanese, Finnish, and English.

Bottoms Up!

If you ever have the chance to visit Helsinki, I would highly recommend you check out these cool places (and drinks)!

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