Since Helsinki is conveniently located in the South of Finland, it means that a short hop by boat can get you to Stockholm, Sweden. The overnight Silja Line cruise ships that travel back and forth between the two cities are reasonably priced and are a great way to enjoy two major European capitals within the same holiday. Having made this trip before, the Sock Mistress and I knew what we were signing ourselves up for, though this time we shelled out for a slightly larger cabin, with complementary mini-bar and a window with a sea view. The awe inspiring ‘all you can eat’ buffet is clearly a challenge that many people are more than happy to take on, but the sheer scale of food that is served up just puts me off. If someone is offering more than my body-weight in fish, meat and cheeses – as well as hot and cold running beers/wine – then I’m afraid I just have to back off. Luckily there are several restaurants on the ship to choose from, including ones that focus on quality not just quantity.
Despite having been to Stockholm a few times now, I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface of the city. A quick trip around the Old Town and the more tourist friendly areas soon brought lunch time beckoning, and the Stockholm City Theatre happens to have a very handy café hidden away on its top floor. The views from here are great and whilst they may not be ‘picturesque’ they do a great job of emphasising just how chaotic Stockholm traffic can be in the middle of the day. To think the ‘Getaway in Stockholm’ series of films were made here… hard to imagine anyone getting their car up to those kinds of speeds.
The weather kept threatening to become unpleasant, but it was never enough to stop us from sitting outside. Koloni is a fabulous café that serves organic cakes and excellent coffee, it also happens to be helpfully situated right across from where the shuttle bus was due to pick us up from the city centre and take us back to the terminal. After refuelling with some gorgeous chocolate cake and vanilla sauce, it was time to depart and set out for Finland again.
Despite some rather thick fog (and the constant horn tooting because of it) the journey back was enjoyable, though tiring. It’s hard work wandering around all those tax-free shops on board, looking through the shelves stacked high with exotic spirits and bizarrely shaped bottles of after-shaves/perfumes. Luckily, by the time Helsinki reappeared on the horizon, the weather had cleared and a hot, sunny day was waiting for our arrival.