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Questions about Helsinki and Estonia

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Jun 17th, 2012, 12:38 PM
  #1
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Questions about Helsinki and Estonia

Hello. A friend of mine is getting married in Helsinki this August (2012) and I am planning a trip for myself around the event. I live in the US. and am not familiar with Finland. I would very much appreciate your help with my questions:

1) I arrive at the Helsinki airport at 8:30 a.m. on a Thursday morning. I am supposed to get my bag and then meet the bride and groom and some other guests in the city center. From there, we will be taken to a summer house for a couple of days. What would be the least expensive way for me to get to the city center from the airport? My friend (the bride) doubts that they would be ready to leave any time before 11:00 a.m., so it sounds like I'll have plenty of time to get to them from the airport.

2) Can I pay for the (airport to the city) transportation with a US credit card? Is there a "best" option to get Euros before leaving the airport (to get the best exchange rate)?

3) As for the hotel, I need a room for 4 nights: Friday thru Monday. I don't want to spend more than $180 per night, and that should include taxes, breakfast and wireless internet. The quality of the breakfast is important to me. I would be taking the train to St. Petersburg after checking out of the hotel, so easy access to the train station is also important. Right now, I'm leaning towards Scandic Marski but I just read a review or two that stated there are some bad rooms at that hotel, so I'm wondering what to do. I've found some weekend rates at the more expensive hotels (Hotel Kamp and Hilton Strand) that do fall within my budget, so one (crazy?) option would be to spend Fri. and Sat. nights in a fancier hotel and then move on to another hotel for the Sun. and Mon. nights. Any comments on these thoughts? Or other suggestions?

4) Some resources suggest that there is more to see in Tallinn (including the attraction(s) outside the city walls) than one could cover in one day. Would you recommend staying there overnight to get a better taste? If so, how many nights would you recommend? Tartu is said to be a must see also (based on some reviews). I am wondering if I should extend my itinerary to include a visit to Tartu as well. In that case, could I do a worthwhile visit there as a day trip from Tallin or would I have to overnight in Tartu?

This is turning out to be a very expensive trip, so all comments and suggestions on how to make the best of it would be very much appreciated!

Sonia
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Jun 17th, 2012, 01:53 PM
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1. Take the bus. Either the airport bus or the regular bus.

2. Use an ATM in the airport. Tell your bank you will be traveling.

3. Depends on how fancy a hotel. You could check eurocheapo.com.

4. I think you probably need one overnight for Tallinn.

For my TR including Helsinki and Tallinn see http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ne-baltics.cfm

or here with pix: http://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com/...ain-and-shine/
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Jun 17th, 2012, 09:43 PM
  #3
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Dear thursdaysd, Thank you very much for your response! I don't need a fancy hotel. I just need a place that is easy to get to and in which I can get good nights of sleep, plus breakfast and internet access. The location of Scandic Marski is perfect, but there are a number of reviews about how old and noisy the hotel is, and how there was no hot water, shampoo, etc., so I thought I should double check here. I am not a business traveler and not used to paying this much per night for hotels, so I'm trying to learn what to expect for the money. Thanks again!
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Jun 17th, 2012, 10:08 PM
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You could try Hotel Helka. Hostel Academica should be open for your dates, but no breakfast - kitchenette, though.
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Jun 17th, 2012, 11:13 PM
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Stayed in Scandic Maerski for 5 nights with my son. It was all good, easily a 4* level (and I'm pretty picky). Breakfast was good (or according to my son, fantastic - he really loves their pancakes). Train station is a short walk (5 min) away. It's not noisy, we both slept 9+3h a day - we were pretty jetlagged. I'd give the hotel a nice 8/10. Staff was nice if a little cold, but travelling to FIN and EST anything but will be quite a shock. We paid 90EUR a night with breakfast.
Tallinn is definately worth at least a couple of days (being originally from there I might be biased). I wouldn't waste time on Tartu - you'll spend at least 6-7h on the way (to and fro) and it's not that special. I'd recommend Narva, it's closer but not too many people speak English, or even Estonian (Though I assume that's not a concern). In any case, it's more fun.
Hope this helps.
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Jun 18th, 2012, 12:39 AM
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Tallinn is wonderful and if you have more than one day, the better. However, Tallinn is best visited during the week (Monday to Thursday). Avoid the weekends because that's when hordes of Finns come over for binge drinking and walking the streets is no fun then - we were even hassled by some drunkheads inside our hotel.

I also liked Tartu a lot with its lively student culture and its neoclassical architecture.
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