Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a sea with the sky performing its own subtle show of northern lights while you dance all night long? Have you wondered how deep the conversations can go on while you cruise along a deep-sea with people you met just a few days back? And the unlimited stories that remain etched for a long time. Well, all these on a two-day cruise to Helsinki- the silent Finnish town on the bays of the Baltic sea.
With the assignments and classes getting on the nerve and the brutally cold weather showing us a glimpse of what the winter can offer, we needed a short break. What is best than to dance your worries off and that too on the cruise. But being a student brings with it the budgetary constraints. It ultimately comes down to apply jugaad and doing it.
There are two main cruises that operate from Stockholm – Viking Line and Silja Line. These two cruises are usually cheaper, depending on when you are buying them. I bought them a week before the trip and it cost me around 235 sek. If you are buying them a month before, the prices vary from 80 sek to 150 sek. You can check out the prices on their websites.
On the Cruise
We finished up with our classes and headed to Slusan where the port is. Finishing up the check-in procedure, we moved into the gigantic ship. This being my first encounter with the sea, the “Swedish Resfeber” set in. It felt like walking inside a luxurious hotel, with casinos, dance floors, tax-free shops. The ship had an open deck where we could experience the sky in its greatest grandeur. The deck offered amazing views of the sunset and the night sky.
The best thing about the trip was experiencing my first northern lights!!!
The night was all about dancing, sky gazing, immersing myself in quiet solitude and dancing again- a perfect blend for an introvert.
In the bays of the Baltic sea stands a city, off the radar of touristic places such as Paris and Rome, whose simplicity in architectural design brings out a lot of wows. Thus rightly named as the white pearl of the Baltic sea. The clear skies with the sun out made the day perfect to explore this modern Scandinavian city. You could walk and explore the nooks and corners of this beautiful city if you had a day or two. I usually choose this way to explore since walking is the best way to get the essence of the city. Since we had just about six-hour and we were curious to get the feel for the entire city, we choose the bus tour. Sitting on the panoramic bus tops, we digested every bit of architectural feel, Helsinki could offer us.
Our first stop was the majestic Helsinki cathedral where a lot of tourists were busy taking pictures of the long line of stairs. The sun provided the best flashlight we needed. As you walk on the city market smelling delicious salmons, you see signboards cautioning us of the notorious seagulls which might steal your delicious lunch. This reminded me of the notorious monkeys in India. Probably, humans and animals are the same, no matter which country we are in.
We visited the Sibelius monument, tram museum, rock church, music center and also got to witness a random flash mob.
With so little time to explore such a calm place, we used up every second to absorb everything we could. Little did we realize that we were getting late and we had to run back to the cruise to just reach on time.
Budgetary side of things
- Book your tickets early to avail best prices for the cruise. Check with your Swedish friends who might have a membership card for one of the cruise companies. You can then get more discount on the original prices.
- The food on the cruise is overpriced. Thus we got our own food that could last for the day on the ship.
- You might feel that the food in Helsinki is expensive too. We went to the subway and McDonald’s where we got a burger for 30 sek.
- The cruise has a tax free shopping mall where you could stack up enough alcohol at a much cheaper price.
- Negotiate with the bus tour operator and never accept the first offer they make.
- The cheapest food on the cruise is a sandwich in the tax-free shop costing around 40 sek and panini sandwich which costs 90 sek.
The trip to the Baltic sea is a perfect destination if you want a weekend break from the assignments and academics and come back to face them in a better way. It forges friendship bonds remembered through weird dance moves and drunken stories. The amazing architecture of the city would be a treat to a photographer and the chilly night sky on the cruise would test your photography skills in the cold.
A lot of learning happens outside the four walls of the classroom. So, do enjoy your stay at KTH by travelling and exploring the European towns around.