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rhkkmk's off to Helsinki, St. Petersburg and Tallinn via JFK

rhkkmk's off to Helsinki, St. Petersburg and Tallinn via JFK

Old Sep 2nd, 2009, 07:01 AM
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I continue to follow your travels. Sounds like Tallinn is lovely. Have a good time on the rest of your trip.
Carol
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Old Sep 2nd, 2009, 07:10 AM
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thanks carol... enjoy bkk in OCTOBER.... november is nicer

you guys need a condo there
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Old Sep 2nd, 2009, 08:13 AM
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oh i see karen's spelling is about as good as mine.......it's those schools in the 1950's...

Bob...don't be knocking the Massachusetts public schools in the 1950's...I taught/coached in both West Bridgwater and Wellesley in the early 50's...could it be the students? Or can we narrow it down to rhkkmk...hmmmm. PANDA, chime in!!

stu

But...
Happy you liked Estonia...you wouldn't have as much during SSR days when I was last there.Ugh.

I just have to admit, the report is excellent....don't neglect a visit to the very unusual Jan Sibelius monument in the beautiful park on the tram line going north. The Taviola suburb is also worth a short ride..
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Old Sep 2nd, 2009, 09:30 AM
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I am still enjoying this report!
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Old Sep 2nd, 2009, 10:13 AM
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Hi Bob and Karen,
If you walk down to where the ferry arrives and leaves there is a very large duty free shop, plus a market. The boat passengers from Sweden stock up like crazy on booze and wine.

Estonia was occupied for so long by Russia that they are still in the Russian mode, of not being overly friendly.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2009, 10:56 AM
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Ah, Catherine's Passage - that's truly a picture post card stop! We walked thru there a few times, but never hungry, so didn't stop to eat-sounds like we missed some good food!

We saw several 'booze buses' (as I called them) from Finland at Tallinn's port. The market stalls/duty free shops were quite crowded when we visited - but then again, you can always pick up another suitcase there to bring your purchases home! ha! If not a suitcase, then a can of moose or reindeer.

Sounds like you have worn out your walking shoes!! Enjoy the ferry crossing ... remember Iguana for pizza in Helsinki - it'll be under $100!

And don't forget about that candy bowl by the door at Hotel Imperial - it's good ....
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Old Sep 3rd, 2009, 12:50 AM
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Debs..We tried the candy. It is different, and good. You obvviously have been in this part of the world several times. Do you live over here? Thank you for all the suggestions. Karen
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Old Sep 3rd, 2009, 02:55 AM
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>>> Enjoy the ferry crossing ... remember Iguana for pizza in Helsinki - it'll be under $100
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Old Sep 3rd, 2009, 10:08 AM
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Karen - Along with other areas in Europe, we've been fortunate to have explored the former Soviet bloc countries and are really drawn to that area. We definitely need to expand our horizons and venture beyond Europe, but we keep gravating back to it.

Lakewood, OH (Cleveland suburb on the shores of Lake Erie) is home. Not an exotic destination by any means, but home nonetheless.

Anxious to read your next installment and see your pictures!

Elina - Joking with Bob about the high prices of just about everything in Helsinki, that's all...
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Old Sep 3rd, 2009, 10:22 AM
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Also enjoying your report, it's a part of the world that is toward the top of places we wish to explore!
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Old Sep 3rd, 2009, 11:51 AM
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Hi Bob and Karen,

Thanks for a great trip report.
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Old Sep 5th, 2009, 07:02 AM
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Terrific report.
We expect some black bread and little blinis at the next GTG.
See you soon. Tengo

PS
We had thought of posting live from Greece and Italy last week but, even had we done so, I fear our trip report would not match this one. Will give a summary soon.
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Old Sep 5th, 2009, 07:36 AM
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black bread in usa never matches these here,,,, see you sunday nite about 6:30 robert....

here is the last meet of the report:

Thursday


A note about last nite… we did return to In Vino Veritas for dinner last nite… its about 3 blocks from the Imperial… We should have observed one of K’s rules---never return…

But we did and largely on the fantastic salad we had had…. This time it was only so so… but the rest of the meal was just fine…. The beers were cold, very cold and we both had the lasagna a la vino veritas… A note about that… WOW…It is a lasagna with red meat sauce, but with no ricotta, just a rich cream sauce, some normal cheese, meat and tomato sauce… but the wow is that each of us had a full bread loaf pan about 2/3rds full… The two pans was enough for two families… The service was also not as attentive as the earlier visit--- different waitress.. It was a pleasant meal, just not as nice as our first visit.. It was misting out when we left so we were glad we had stayed local…. We had bought some pastry earlier in the day (deb—from the right hand shop) so we had that for dessert in our room…

We packed a bit for our departure the next day and watched BBC…

Up and downstairs for breakfast… We lazed around the room, finished our packing and checked out about 11:30… A taxi was called to drive us to the dock for our ship back to Helsinki--- $9….The ship was the Baltic Princess operated by Tallink. The ship is very lux and takes passengers and vehicles. Fare: 48 Euros for the two of us… there are bars, shops, a supermarket, etc on board…. A cafeteria, where we had a sandwich/salad, a gourmet restaurant, a russian restaurant, a grill and a couple of others…. Passengers were buying huge quantities of beers, wines and booze in the supermarket… It was not uncommon to see a cart with 3-7 cases of booze…. We were later told prices in Helsinki are many times more expensive… Private cabins are available if you wish also.. We bought a bottle of Mateuse (remember it) to drink in Helsinki.. 6.9 Euros for 1 litre…
\
A very pleasant voyage… The sky was grey so it was a good day to travel…

We arrived in Helsinki at 4:30… We had to wait 30 minutes for a taxi--- 14 Euros to our hotel. We are at the Hotel Kamp, a lovely old hotel right in the center… We were told it’s the best hotel in Finland--- It’s part of the lux collection of starwoods---cash and points---4800 + $90 per nite…

Check in was speedy but room selection took 3 tries….the first one was a 30 minute walk from the elevator…the 2nd was not smoke free, so my appeal to the supervisor yielded an upgrade to an executive room… The room is very lovely and over looks the park across from the hotel-- a major promenade and park area down the center of the street…

When we left the hotel for dinner we thanked the supervisor. On our ride from the pier, we had seen an Indian restaurant just up the road… BINGO… Samrat Indian Cuisine; Etelaesplanadi 22…. We headed there..
For the first time on this trip, we were welcomed upon our entrance… This attitude continued through our delicious meal… We had drank ½ the bottle of matteuse at the hotel, so cocktails were not necessary. We chose a menu for two: pappadon (sp) wafers; battered (graham flour) and fried spicy shrimp with a small salad with a spicy dressing; spicy chicken tandori in a curry sauce; sweet shrimp in a rich coconut sauce; and kulfi for dessert…. An excellent meal---our best of the trip—59.9 Euros…. A pitcher of ice water was on the table…

We returned to the room…. The streets were very busy… We learned that a huge fireworks display was to commence at 9:30, over the harbour, with 7 companies participating… They are still going on now, even though it has begun to rain…

Upon our return to the room we found a bottle of Italian red wine and two bottles of mineral water on our coffee table, plus wine and water glasses--- a bit of an apology I guess… This is a quality outfit… Gpanda will have a ball with this…

Good night..



Friday



Up late as we had the best bed of the trip… Finally got dressed and wandered up the street a couple of doors to Strindberg Café, as earlier suggested on fodors. We each had two pastry, K had a small cappuccino and I had water from the tap with lemon… a steal at 17.50 euros…. It was, however, good, but not fabulous… I think the price got to me and my first pastry was a bit stale, but the 2nd was excellent…

We returned to the room and I read the international tribune and the financial times, took a shower and was then ready for a walk.. K wanted to explore the neighborhood, the kamp galleria next door and find places for lunch and dinner… K had the name of a soup place in the mall, but it seems to be gone, but we settled on a sushi place with tons of people inside… we each had an 8 piece plate, some tea and water----perfect and very good… the restaurant is on the top floor of kamp galleria… 17.80 E--- perfect..

After lunch we wandered some more, window shopping and admiring the fantastic building facades… Some are really fantastic and unusual… We wandered down to the market square at the waterfront, where we sat for quite some time watching the people and the harbor traffic…K had also hoped to find an old Russian woman who was knitting there on our last two visits, and had lovely things for sale, but alas they stayed away today because the weather was not that sunny and in fact it sprinkled on and off…. We wandered our way back up the central park between roads stopping to sit here and there, watching the passerby’s and just generally relaxing…. It finally started to drizzle again so we headed back to the hotel and a couple of glasses of our rose…

We have been discussing what to do tomorrow… maybe take a boat to porvoo, a quiet seaside town or maybe rent a car and drive there, or just hang-out some more and head to our airport hotel in the late afternoon…

Pizza seems to be on the menu for tonight… One fodorite suggested Iguana, but the hotel tells us it is closed for renovation, so we will go instead to Carlito’s Gourmet Pizza, Kluuvikatu 4, just down the street in the kamp palace building….

We each had a large local draft beer and we split a small Caesar salad (delicious)… K had a meatball and red onion pizza, which she could not finish, and I had a pepperoni and balsamic soaked pearl onion pizza…both were delicious… we split an outrageous chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and fresh cherries---OUTRAGEOUS… 55 Euros…
The restaurant is on the 2nd floor of the Glo Hotel, which looks like a pretty hip place.. This is an ideal location for tourists, both the kamp and the glo…

Back to the room to relax and pack up a bit…




Saturday--- our last full day


Not up until about 8:30…. Mad as hell because the oral surgeon has kept me waiting all day for my procedure, so its now 4PM and I am just going to tell him that he is too tired to operate on me now----my dream… Would Jeane do this to me??


Have just requested a late check-out for today and it is granted for 3PM….. We will move to the Holiday Inn at the airport later this afternoon… Not just sure why I did this as our flight isn’t until 2PM on Sunday….. Maybe to save points with starwoods and to use some old holiday inn points (15000)----remember K calls me mr cheap…

We bought some cheese dannish at the waterfront market yesterday (4 for 5 euros) so we will have that in the room for our breakfast….. There is no coffee machine in the room so we requested one, but they brought only tea, so Karen will have to be satisfied with that….

We are totally lazy today… We never left the room until almost noon… We walked down to the waterfront (5 min walk) in hope to find the knitters today. Bingo, they were there, but not the lady we wanted…. We found a better one… We bought a lovely hand knit cap for the folks who live across the road from us who had their first baby three weeks ago….12 euros… Very cute cap of white and navy blue with a point on the top… I had previously identified the women as Russians, but in fact I think most of them are Finnish…
We bought ourselves a table runner woven out of cotton rag fabric…. It’s a unique Finnish process called a poppana weaving… Ours is wide sections of navy blue and hunter green… It’s washable and will soften almost to a velvet with repeat washings…

Just as were were leaving the market, K saw a guy put his hand on my rear pants pocket…She grabbed his hand and he stepped back but did not run… He had unbuttoned the pocket, but that is all…. Very lucky as I had some cash and about 7 credit cards inside… I yelled at him and said NYET- NYET a couple of times and he just stared at me… In retrospect we think he and his friend were gypsies from their looks, small and swami… haha have a ball with this… Actually maybe they were Cambridge attorneys…

We returned to the room and decided then to go back for another sushi lunch…. This time we shared a 24 piece plate--- 38 Euros… A better selection than the lunch special yesterday, but at twice the price… Delicious and just right..

Returning again to the room, we decided to check out and head to the airport… So about 2:30 we left the hotel… Our only bill was the approximately $180 for the two nites stay in addition to 9600 starwood points… On line our room for those nites was 286 euros per nite, so cash and points is a fantastic deal when traveling…

We took a taxi to the airport holiday inn--- 43 euros…

We have been upgraded to an executive room, but it seems a bit normal to us, except for the small dressing room off of the closet area---it has a make-up table and 2 chairs in it…
The bathroom is small and comes complete with a floor squeegee as the shower floor and bath floor are all one, and I suspect the water must run into the bathroom-- very odd in- deed…

There is free internet here and I have heard from gpanda already, and did skype with one of our kids…

We will have dinner downstairs tonight I guess—reception gave us a 20% coupon…

Perfect ending to a good trip… I will add some general comments after I return home on Monday or Tuesday…
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Old Sep 5th, 2009, 08:02 AM
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Bob
Enjoyed your report. Rest up now... you've still got lots of places to go, people to see, and GTGs to oversee!! See you in about a month in BOS.
Carol
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Old Sep 5th, 2009, 08:34 AM
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It has been a good trip...as much as I hate to say it Bob's planning has been right on. It has been interesting doing the plane, train, bus, boat, car thing. They added another dimention to each part of the trip. Saint Petersburg has been at the top of my "bucket"list, so now I have done it. Having Alex to get us from point a to point b and a brief explanation of what door to go to was the best thing of the trip. Now on to South Africa. k
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Old Sep 5th, 2009, 08:55 AM
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Let's see. Einstein goes to Finland and has Indian, Sushi, pizza and Sushi. You can take the Asia forum guy out of Asia...but he remains ours over there.
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Old Sep 5th, 2009, 12:44 PM
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Oh, Panda, your jealousy never fails to surface. Beautiful report, K&B! Thank you.

BC
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Old Sep 5th, 2009, 12:48 PM
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Great trip report and lovely to speak with you both Thursday (ahh the wonders of Skype!) safe journey and speak soon.
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Old Sep 5th, 2009, 01:14 PM
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next thing is that fodors needs a tie into skype
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Old Sep 5th, 2009, 01:19 PM
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Totally.... just missed your call, have a safe journey!
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