Crossing the border from Finland to Germany

“Wait a second” you say, “Finland and Germany don’t share a border”. You are correct. However there is a ferry service that runs a daily 28 hour crossing from Helsinki in Finland to Travemunde in Germany. Overland travel for the win.

It was a bit hard to find information about the ferry crossing since it seems to mostly be popular with truckers and families in camper vans. Two groups that don’t typically write travel blogs as much as backpackers do. I think most backpackers would just fly, it would be much quicker and probably also cheaper. Thanks to our self-imposed overland travel rules we didn’t have a choice but we managed to get tickets for about 100€ each (~NZ$155) which we thought was pretty reasonable.

To get to the ferry terminal we caught the metro to Vuosaari/Nordsjo and connected to bus 90 which took us right up to the terminal. We were the only people checking in. Well, the only foot passengers. There were a tonne of cars and trucks queued up. Check-in was open from 3.5 hours to 2 hours before our departure at 5pm. Bang on 3pm we were shepherded into a van which then proceeded to lead all the cars to the boat. We felt pretty important in the van right at the head of a long trail of vehicles weaving through the container shipping port.

Helsinki container port

 

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Hel Yeah Helsinki!

Arriving in Helsinki was really pleasant, first impressions were that it was a lovely city. Except as expected it was a bit of a shock to the wallet – the first toilets we found cost a whole 1 euro! (~NZ$1.50) Toilets in Russia cost about 15 roubles (~NZ$0.38).

We walked to our hostel and hung out for the afternoon. Fun fact: the tourist guidebook for Helsinki is called ‘Hel Yeah’. Great name. The highlight for the evening was going to a supermarket and buying ingredients for nachos. We had spent a lot of time discussing what we would like to cook for our first meal in Europe and we were both craving nachos. Om nom nom. It was pretty fun to cook again but I suspect the novelty might wear off pretty quickly.

That evening we went for a walk, sunset wasn’t until after 9pm which seemed crazy. I really liked how Helsinki is made up of lots of islands, we were close to the water and could look out across it. We also saw some really well designed apartment blocks that we could totally live in. And an awesome bridge. We’re definitely still engineers.

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Crossing the border from Russia to Finland

We had a final breakfast of pancakes with bananas, nutella and chocolate sauce. Oh man they were good. Then we were ready to leave Russia.

Trains for Helsinki leave from the ‘Finlyandskiy’ train station. We showed up nice and early and sat in the waiting hall. When they announced that our train was boarding we were the only ones that stood up and tried to board. The check in woman told us we had to go around to the ‘Express Hall’. We tried to ‘go around’ and were still a bit confused so we went to the information desk. Before we even opened our mouths the woman there held up a sign in English saying that the ‘Express Hall’ was out of the building and around on the side street.

Unrelated but pretty photo from St Petersburg

We followed instructions and found it pretty easily. The place was heaving with people. The hall we had sat in was much nicer. To check in we just showed our passports and put our bags through security. Easy.

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