We got up fairly early in the morning after a decent night’s sleep. Breakfast provided the usual affair of bread, pastries, eggs and fruit. With a polite sign asking that you didn’t make sandwiches to take with you. We got our stuff together and headed off for a walk to Pielpajärvi Wilderness Church. There was another car in the car park before when we set off, so we were pretty sure we were in the right place. The start of the track was a bit rough but was fairly easy going.
The next morning we enjoyed another hotel breakfast including eggs, bacon, sausage and numerous pastries before loading up our backpacks and heading out to find the Arctic Circle. Conveniently there are a few signs, and even a line on the ground to let you know where it is.
After a good sleep-in and a cooked breakfast in the hotel we caught a taxi to the airport. Dad tried to talk his way into the lounges, but none of them would accept his Qantas Club membership, despite our tickets being booked through Qantas for the internal flight.
I meet Dad at the train station in Helsinki and caught a taxi back to the hotel. We had an early night because we had to get up 4 something something the next morning for a boat across the Gulf of Finland to Estonia. Good thing about Europe, the countries are so close, which seems like a silly thing to say, but they are a lot further away in Australia.
The train ride back to Helsinki was punctuated by the Russian border control taking my passport for a while and going for a walk, to another carriage. Turns out my visa had been stuck in the passport upside down, and they couldn’t scan it on their machines. Didn’t have any issues getting into Russia, but this time they wanted to check with a supervisor on what to do – manually type in the visa details on their machines.
The first day we had booked a guide for The Hermitage. It was within walking distance from the hotel, so we set off on foot. The cost of the guide paid for itself when they negotiated our way through all of the queues and straight into the museum before it was actually open. I think they used dad’s walking stick as an excuse. The only down side was I didn’t like being rude, and cutting past that many people was a bit award, they had been waiting a long time to get in.
One thing I really do love in Europe are the trains. They are such a more civilised way of travelling than aeroplanes. No giant queues, no need to take off your belt and shoes (although I am good at dressing in stuff that never sets off the metal detectors), and there is so much more leg room. Not that I need lots of leg room, but there is still much more of it.
We had finally started getting onto GMT, and woke after 7, without an alarm.
Today was spent around Reykjavik. First stop was the Leifer Erricson monument out the front of Hall church. They have a lift to take you up 8 stories in the bell tower. Much easier than stairs. From there you can see most of Reykjavik.
Day two started early again. Awake before 7 without an alarm. Breakfast, gear check, and we headed off again. Down the same tourist route, but this time along the southern coast towards some more waterfalls and a glacier or two.