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Published: October 4th 2015
This entry deals with my visits to Helsinki, Kouvola and Loviisa on September 7-9. I bought Lux Express tickets for a 50% off deal (I would not go Helsinki for the full price unless badly needed) and booked my lodging at Stadium Hostel. I departed at 6-45 in the morning on September 7 and arrived in Helsinki almost an hour before the scheduled time, which was quite good. During the whole journey I watched films on the Buspad, such as “28 weeks later”, “Cloverfield”, and “X-files”. There were no queues at the border crossing.
I went from Kamppi station to the Stadium Hostel on foot; it was drizzling, windy, and cold and I wished I had an umbrella and a raincoat. In the hostel I studied the map carefully and decided to walk via the Sibelius Monument to Tempeli Church and find an old book shop (I found the address beforehand), and finish somewhere in the centre.
Actually, my initial plan was to go from Helsinki to the Aland Islands for one day, but that involved a very early arrival and a very late departure, and as I didn’t want to book a hotel for half a day or
stay at a camping site I cancelled that trip (the refund was 90% of the price). I found a better option to reach Mariehamn from Turku around midday and then depart to Helsinki at around midnight – and I will go there next spring.
It was no good walk during that day because it rained steadily and I got rather wet. I had a particular feeling seeing the Sibelius Monument again. I was there for the first time in September 2009, almost on the same dates, six years ago. How time flies… The boats on the marine looked exactly the same as in 2009.
I reached the Temppeliaukio Church under heavy rain and mused for a while whether to enter it. I decided not to. Instead, I went round the corner and soon found the necessary bookshop. Ugh, it was closed. I cursed through my lips. I had checked its working times in advance but somehow they decided to close the shop exactly on this day. The shop is actually very close to the centre so I proceeded along Mannerheimintie.
Helsinki is gorgeous and the whole centre is full with various shops and trading centres, cafes and
restaurants and other things for anyone’s liking.
I reached the waterside and then started walking back.
On September 8, I went by bus from Kamppi to Kouvola. I had bought the tickets in advance for 5 Euro one-way (a web discount, via the Matkahuolto website). The journey took about 2 hours and a half. It is not needed to visit the city itself, as it has almost no sights, but its vicinities are teeming with interesting places. I’ll describe them briefly. One better come to Kouvola in the middle of summer.
If you are a family with children, of course the first place to see might be the Tykkimäki fun park (it operates in summer) with many attractions, an animal farm, a terrarium, a Palace of Dances, and a beach. The second place of interest is Repovesi Park with 40 kilometers of walking and trekking trails. The third sight, which I’d also like to visit some day, is the Verla Plant, a Unesco World Heritage Site, about 30 km from the centre of Kouvola. Finally, there’s the Mustila Arboretum, a botanical garden open year-round.
I had read previously about some nature trails in Kouvola and wandered
here and there, seeing lots of parks, trees and lawns. The city is very pleasant to stay in, its houses are all surrounded by trees and I suppose its ecology must be excellent. Also, Finland is a paradise for cyclists as there are hundreds of kilometers of marked and well-kept tracks (I also saw narrow cycling tracks along highways). I’m afraid there are no such tracks in my native country.
When I got tired, I had a bite at Subway and then returned to the train station (near the bus station) and waited for my bus (the discounted ticket was valid only for certain time of departure) for a couple of hours, reading Somerset Maugham’s novel “Theater”.
On September 9, the bus took me to Loviisa, an excellent place for a short visit. I spend there about two and a half hours and then had to return to Helsinki because my bus to Petersburg departed at 15-00. This town is a real place to enjoy the Finnish atmosphere. Basically, it is a charming old town with many wooden houses and a marina. Also, it has the Svartholm Fortress on an island (one can get there by a scheduled
boat in summer). Svartholm, a Swedish fortress, was built in the 1740-ies as a defence structure on the border with Russia. The name “Loviisa” refers to the Swedish Queen Louise (Lovisa) Ulrika Prussian. The old timber houses are authentic and efforts are made to preserve them. On some holidays, owners of houses open their doors so that anyone can visit. You’ll be able, for example, to visit them on Christmas.
After the walk I went to a petrol station and had a bite, and then finished my sightseeing with the ruins of bastions Rosen and Ungern.
I returned to Helsinki and at 15-00 departed to St. Petersburg.
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