Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Across placid Baltic to Helsinki and home

This time we took the highway back to St. Petersburg and the ferry passing by coniferous forests and rock outcroppings that reminded us of British Columbia. Finally, we were back at the ferry, where a trainee customs officer took a painfully long time examining our passports.

We went out on deck as the Princess Maria headed out to sea through the vast St Petersburg dock area. It was eerily quite with seemingly none of the countless huge cranes at work. We saw a few freighters tied up and a little activity around one of them but nothing like we would expect from a port this size. And outside the port not a single freighter waiting to enter. Perhaps the sanctions have something to do with this.

We had seen all that the Princess Maria had to offer on our previous voyage so this time we just headed towards the restaurant area for dinner. We waited a long time for a table and almost as long again for an underdone pizza. However, it was quite pleasant just sitting in the restaurant as the sun slowly set over Finland somewhere beyond the horizon.

The boat docked at eight in the morning. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that breakfast would be served until 10 and we wouldn’t have to leave the ship until 11. Needless to say we took our time over breakfast and missed the scrum leaving the boat at eight.

Since our plane didn't leave until six at night we had some time to explore Helsinki. We left our luggage at the train station and began wandering around, eventually ending up at the harbour. We decided that a boat tour might be a relaxing way to pass the afternoon, and it was. It was interesting to see all the small islands, under beautiful blue skies, enhanced by a very pleasant glass of champagne.

Once off the boat we walked around an indoor food market in what was probably the old fish market. The displays were mouthwatering with smoked salmon, gravad lax, fruit and vegetables, but the prices were staggering. With a final walk around the outdoor stalls cooking up salmon we left the port. It was time to go to the airport for our flight home. What a wonderful trip with blue skies and warm weather every day.

Back in the Port the rain, clouds and windy weather continue.

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