We arrived at Rastila Camping Helsinki on Sunday afternoon, and the girls and I spent the week exploring various sites in and around the city. The plan was to do a few hours of school in the mornings and head into city in the afternoons. That turned out to be too ambitious of a plan! This week the girls ended up doing a lot of reading and writing (in German), a little math and French, and absolutely no English (other than speaking), but I think they also learned a lot at the places we went, so I count it as a week of school. 🙂 And hopefully we’ll get back on track next week. The campground is large, located right on a lake and has a lot of space for the kids to play.
On Monday, our first stop was the Academic Bookstore which a friend recommended. The girls were very excited to find some new English and German books. We browsed the books, picked up a few treats (including these gorgeous quills) and then headed out into the pouring rain! The rain in this city is crazy. It pours so hard for about 10 minutes, which is especially loud on the roof of our camper, then stops for a bit before repeating there cycle. So between downpours, we made our way to a few sights, the Helsinki Cathedral (white dome), the Uspenski Cathedral (red brick building), the market square, the Presidential Palace and a historic food hall. We arrived back at the campground wet, full and happy!
Then on Tuesday we went to the HAM Helsinki Art Museum where we saw a cool exhibition on author and artist Tove Jansson, the Temppeliauko Church (a church built right into the rocks), and then to central library Oodi where we spent hours reading. The girls were in heaven and had to be dragged out at dinner time!
Wednesday was more of a camp day, with Olivia and Luisa playing with their new friend (who then left later that afternoon) and Hannah and Charlotte doing some schoolwork. That evening we all went into the city because Steffen hadn’t see Helsinki yet and we wanted to eat at a Mexican restaurant I had read about (another Mexican place!). The food was good, and the chef was super nice to make the girls quesadillas, but the place in Rovaniemi was definitely better. Which makes sense because they claimed to be the best Mexican food in Finland. 🙂
The next day was Thursday and we headed to the zoo, Korkeasaari Zoo. We took the subway and then the bus (public transportation is really easy to navigate here) to the entrance to the zoo. It is actually on an island, so we walked over the bridge and then started walked around the entire island, seeing all the animals. This zoo is well known for its big cats but also has a lot animals native to Finland, which is a great way for the girls to learn more about where we are. After several hours at the zoo, we hopped on a ferry to downtown, where the girls convinced me to take them on the giant ferris wheel, Sky Wheel Helsinki. It was quite windy all day (which gives me a lot of anxiety), but it didn’t look like the little cars where swaying too much so I agreed. Big mistake! The cars were pretty steady but the noise of the wind was frightening. Well, for me. 🙂 The girls got a pretty good laugh out of my fear! We ended the day with another walk through the city, this time passing Helsinki City Hall which looked beautiful for Pride Week.
Lastly, today (Friday) we headed to Sealife for a couple of hours. We all loved looking at the colorful fish, learning about climate change and habitat destruction, and getting some ideas of what we can do to curb it. The place was empty and we felt very safe (corona-wise).
And that was Helsinki! Tomorrow all six of us will head into the city for an adventure, and then on Sunday we will move on…