We decided to do something different this year and booked a holiday to Puerto Rico instead of being cold and stuffing our faces with Christmas cookies.
We flew down Christmas Eve and had to start exploring right away.
We didn’t have a plan, we just followed the streets up to see what we could see.
But we ended up by the San Felipe del Morro Fortress, a 16th century Spanish fort, which was open for a few more hours.
This was my first beer here on the island and it was phenomenal. It’s by Ocean Lab Brewing, I have to find more of their beers!
The wind is intense.
And it got even colder here, if that’s possible.
We found a path around Toompea and admired the walls.
We then went outside of the city, across the train tracks, to a cute cafe in old train cars.
The theme of the day is hot food and drinks, like the borsch I ordered.
And the hot chocolate and mulled wine.
The we braved the insane winds and checked out the water.
And finally ended up at yet another Brewdog cafe.
While they do carry a bunch of their Scottish beers, we chose local ones in bottles. The stout selection was perfect.
I got a mint stout.
And we split a stout aged in red wine barrels.
Personally, I think it’s as good or better than Prague, but with almost no tourists!
Although, it was quite chilly. About 48°F and felt like 41 with the wind, ouch.
We did quite a bit of walking around the elevated portion of the old city, Toompea, and got tons of fantastic views.
We did the tunnel museum that ran through the old battlements.
Stopped for lunch at a restaurant that I think translated to “Grandma’s kitchen.”
After lunch we went back and toured Kiek in de Kök. (Low German for “peek into the kitchen”)
More views from the top of the tower:
Beer at Koht, which specializes in Belgian beers, but we chose local.
It was starting to rain again so we walked in the direction of St Olaf’s to go to Õlleteek. I love how most of their bars here are underground.
So cozy! I got a spiced stout.
To possibly one of my favorite places ever, Tallinn, Estonia!
Look at that lovely view from the ferry! I was surprised how fast we moved actually, and the trip only took two hours.
After dumping our bags, we ventured out to see the city in the rain.
Checked out the longest section of the old walls built mid to late 1300s.
A quick bite to eat: soup, herring plate, and beetroot risotto with goat cheese.
It had just stopped raining so we decided to go up to the top of St Olaf’s.
According to Wikipedia: believed to have been built in the 12th century before Denmark conquered Tallinn in 1219.
After, we walked through the old town and went to Porgu.
A view of Viru gate while we enjoyed the only sunshine of the day.
On our final day in Helsinki, we toured art museums and churches.
First we went to the Ateneum museum. There were some very famous pieces, but the majority we’re Finnish artists which is what we we’re hoping to see!
Then we stopped by some architecturally unique churches, like the Rock Church. It didn’t really photograph well, but it was a huge stunning pile of rocks built on a giant rock!
We walked around and checked out a few more buildings we were interested in then headed back for a nap before dinner.
We didn’t have a plan for dinner but found a delicious place, Il Birrificio for dinner and drinks!
I had a tasty porter called Suburbanned.
We took the ferry over to the island fortress originally called Sveaborg since it was built by the Swedish. Called Viapori by the Finnish and renamed in 1918 to Suomenlinna. Sewden began construction of the fortress in 1748 against Russian expansion.
The ferry only took about 15 minutes.
While on the island we got to tour a Finnish submarine.
We also explored the military museum.
Once we were back, we had dinner and then more beers!
I tried multiple beers from this brewery, Donut Island, and enjoyed their diverse range.
My first meal in Helsinki was grilled liver with bacon!
Then we went to the Finnish Architecture Museum.
Not only did it teach us about architecture and design but also gave us some history of the city.
We took quite a long walk to see the city and get it bearings. This is Senate Square.
Stopped in for a pint at Helsinki Brewery.