Today it’s time for some travel, continuing my counting counties series. In chronological order, the next countries I visited were in the Baltics; Finland, Estonia and Latvia – taking me up to a country count of 40!
I visited them all together and created my own personal tour of the Baltics. And I got lucky with the weather. Despite it being Easter, I got snow. And I love snow.
Baltics #1 – Finland
I arrived in Finland first, the last Scandinavian country I had yet to visit. Truth be told, the high prices and lack of attractions drawing me to Finland meant it never made it’s way to the top of my to-visit list. And yes – I know I shouldn’t really identify Finland as in the Baltics, but it’s on the Baltic sea, so I’m going for it.
Arriving in Helsinki airport, I was amazed at how well everything worked in in the snow. The runway was clear and planes were deiced easily. The bus was obviously running and there were many workers out shovelling snow from footpaths. Coming from the UK, where we come to a standstill with a smattering of snow, this was novel.
I am someone who likes to take pictures. Especially in cities and buildings. Yet I never took any photos of Helsinki. It was cold and under freezing temperature-wise, but this was not the reason. I just didn’t find anything that was iconic or interesting enough to take pics!
What I did find very interesting though were the saunas. The ideal place to thaw and relax, I made the most of these and tried a few of them out. I also loved outdoor swimming in the heated pool, when the thermostat read under zero. where when you came out, your towel was frozen crinkly. This would be my iconic Helsinki moment, one that can’t be captured with a camera.
As the pine forests surrounding the city were entrancing to me, I got out to see them. Turns out there is a forest park with hiking trails you can get the bus to. And that I did for a lovely snowy walk and a bit of the countryside. You can read all about my snowy trail adventure. I had great fun and highly recommend.
Baltics #2 – Estonia
Onwards to my next new country, which is just south of Finland, separated by the Baltic sea. Through which many ferry companies ply their trade. And so I boarded a boat to cross this border. Which I think is the first boat crossing I’ve done apart from the UK to France channel crossing.
Arriving in Tallinn by boat in the frozen cold, I was geekily amazed at the logistics. While the open Baltic sea was still liquid, the sea at the ports had a decidedly more frozen look about it. And there seemed to be snow on the ice.
The ferry charged ahead undeterred, so I assumed they have some sort of ice breaker hulls upon them. And the sound of the icebreaking was superb! Apologies the arrival picture isn’t great due to my dodgy phone camera and a boat window that hadn’t been cleaned in a long while.
Despite all this, it was magical arriving by icebreaker to a medieval walled city. The city is picture-postcard pretty in a way you have to see it to believe it is real.
I had hours of fun wandering around the old town breathing in the atmosphere. And despite the snow, there were also a fair few other tourists joining me in appreciating this place.
Tallinn is more than the old town, with lots of up and coming areas that are fun to hang out in. Not to mention, prices are more than reasonable, especially compared with Finland. So again it comes highly recommended as an awesome place where you’ll get stunning pictures.
Baltics #3 – Latvia
My final new country was Latvia, somewhere again that wasn’t high up my list, but that I was happy to bundle up into a Baltics trip. Reached by a rather pleasant bus journey from Estonia, again I loved the pine forests that certainly seemed, from my journey, to be the majority of land area.
I based myself in the capital Riga. As I’ve previously penned a love poem to Riga, I wanted to revisit the memory and see if this still holds up? And yes I still feel Riga is the perfect for me city.
It has amazing architecture from lots of eras, medieval to modern-day with a liberal quantity from through my fave period art nouveau. Moreover, it’s a fun and welcoming city to hang out it with lots of reasonably priced options. I loved the food market and the black bread made the best sandwiches.
Being me I also got out for a day trip into the country. I was going to say to explore the green, but in reality, it was all white. I’m not going to lie the virgin untouched snow was a delight. And after going for a walk and retracing my path I could see that no one else had attempted the route on that day, with only my footsteps visible.
My own Baltics Tour
Overall, I was very happy with the trip. I love to visit smaller countries together, and making use of local land and sea transportation always adds some fun to a trip. My highlights were the saunas, forests and medieval cities – places that bring me joy and that warm fuzzy feeling inside.
Related Posts – Counting Countries Series
- Travels as a Child – Countries 1 to 6
- On my own dime – Countries 7 to 16
- Going East – Countries 17 to 22
- Europe and Beyond – Countries 23 to 27
- The Caribbean and yet more Europe – Countries 28 to 31
- Inca Extravaganza – Countries 32 & 33
- African Extravaganza – Countries 34 &35
- Overlooked Countries- Countries 36 & 37
Over to you
- What are your thoughts?
- Do you like to travel to snowy places?
- Have you been to the Baltics?