Helsinki

2018 was very close to being the year that I broke my (now six-year!) trend of visiting a new country every year. By a touch of luck, a change of job (expect a post on that soon) allowed for the trend to continue by offering the exciting opportunity to visit my second Nordic country, Finland.

Three things spring to mind when I think of Finland:

  1. It's Cold
  2. Formula One Drivers
  3. There's a BrewDog in Helsinki

Unfortunately, Valtteri and Kimi were both out of town. I did, however, manage to confirm it is definitely cold and that there is indeed a BrewDog in Helsinki, keep reading for more on that.

Another unexpected treat was waiting at Heathrow, a three-month-old fresh-plane-smelling Airbus A320 NEO (G-TTND for those interested). One of only a handful of the new jets in BA's fleet. The plane is essentially the same as all the others but has some sexy Sharklets (see picture below).

British Airways, A320neo

British Airways, A320neo

There was ice and snow on the ground in Helsinki which was good evidence that it was definitely cold. The water in the below picture is the sea, apparently, and I'm told that it does freeze over so it can't have been that cold while we were there. Come to think of it this is a first, I have never seen the Baltic Sea before! Can't say I'd want to swim in it.

The below picture is the view from the Hotel, where the view was quite impressive. To the right of the picture, but out of shot is a large rocky hill where the Finnish Civil Defense Museum is located, I was quite surprised to learn that Finland has one of the most comprehensive shelter systems in the world, capable of accommodating the entire population.

View from the Hilton Strand Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

View from the Hilton Strand Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

It had to be done. BrewDog has become the newer and hipper, equivalent of Hard Rock Cafe. For what it's worth, I feel like BrewDog does actually differ from location to location, where Hard Rock is literally the same no matter where you are in the world (speaking from experience).

This particular BrewDog was unique in that it had absolutely no customers, which was kind of spooky. They did have a surprisingly large selection of local beers though, something I think BrewDog are doing a good job of in most international locations. I had a strange sour beer which was sour but still a little too sweet for me. One thing worth noting, although every beer-blog will do the same is that it is HIDEOUSLY expensive to drink in Helsinki, come to think about it, perhaps that explains the lack of patrons.

BrewDog Helsinki

BrewDog Helsinki

New Bucket List Item / 32 - St Helena

My bucket list is going surprisingly well, I've been really lucky and have had the opportunity to complete almost 20% of my list in just a few years. I've blogged about every item, you can read more by following the links on the Bucket List Page. I've decided to start to expand the list; my first addition is to Visit the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena. St Helena is a very small island off the west cost of Africa in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, it is one of the most isolated islands on earth. The island has been something of a fascination to me in recent years, kicked off my my discovery that they have their own currency, which i thought was fantastic! The island is currently only accessible by boat, regularly served by the RMS St Helena for both passengers and cargo, the ship is one of the last remaining vessels under the service of the Royal Mail.

What is even more interesting is that the island is currently building it's first airport. The islanders have been petitioning the UK government for funding for this essential infrastructure since 2005. The airport is expected to be operational from 2016. More information about this project can be found on the wiki page here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Helena_Airport and on the official St Helena Access site here: http://www.sainthelenaaccess.com/.

Number 32 will probably be a long way away, it's going to be a fairly 'hardcore' piece of travel even if I were to travel in via the new airport!