Rising early on Saturday morning, we headed to the train station to catch an 8:30 train to Turku. It was two and a half hours from Helsinki so we had booked tickets in the family car as Little Man is now super mobile and active. He’s still not walking (at 14 months), but insists on exploring everything. The family car proved to be a very good decision.
The seats are bigger than the main train car, and there’s a table and even some stools for kids.
My favorite part was that it only seats four. (Sometimes it’s nice to have a little privacy.) On the way to Turku, we were joined by a young couple who, luckily for us, didn’t mind the little one crawling everywhere. With only five stops along the way, we arrived in Turku at 10:30 am.
Of course, the main reason for visiting Turku was to see the Tall Ships!
These large, historical ships are touring five cities in the Baltic this year: Halmstad, Sweden; Kotka, Finland; Turku, Finland; Klaipeda, Lithuania; and Szczecin, Poland. I felt very lucky to be so close to one of these cities.
It was a beautifully sunny day, and the riverside was not yet teeming with people at the early hour. We meandered along the waterfront, slowly making our way toward the tall ships. They were breathtaking.
I’ve long had a fascination with pirates, which I think explains why I enjoy the ships as well. That, and they’re pretty.
Just look at those sails! We stopped for some food among the many vendors set up along the river as Little Man miraculously napped. It took about an hour to walk the full length of one side of the river. Before crossing to the other side, we decided to visit the castle. I think it’s something of an American obsession. Castles are like magnets for us.
Ironically, by the time we got there, we decided it was the perfect time for a beer. There happened to be a free shuttle bus in front of the castle that took us to the main square. Turns out, there weren’t a lot of options, so we stopped at Woolshed, a cozy restaurant and pub. All of the seating outside was directly in the sun (and by that time, it was actually hot!), so we found a table inside.
After enjoying a burger (mostly eaten by the little one; I love that he eats real food now!) and a couple of beers, it was back to the ships.
The one downside is that since the ships are so large, it’s difficult to get good pictures.
By this time, the riverside was quite crowded and difficult to navigate with a pram. We strolled the length of the far side of the river, then stopped at a grocery store for some snacks, before finding a park to relax in. All the walking in the unusual heat left us tired. Except Little Man, who was more than ready to play and explore.
He crawled around the park for a short time, before discovering the paved path and setting off in a determined escape. He’s so fast! The above picture was taken moments before half the yogurt in the container was spilled all over Little Man. That’s about the time we decided to call it a day and make our way back to the train station.
The train departed Turku at 5:30 pm, arriving in Helsinki at 7:30. Again, we had seats in the family car and were only joined by one other person for a short time. For the rest of the journey, our little monkey discovered how fun it is to climb over the dividers between seats. I think he did this for a solid twenty minutes.
Having arrived right on time to Rautatientori, or the central railway station, we made it home just before 8:30 pm. (It would’ve been sooner, but we needed to stop at the store for breakfast items for the following morning.) Little Man is usually in bed an hour earlier than that, so we put him down almost as soon as we walked in the door. He’s a great sleeper now, and he was exhausted, so he fell right to sleep. After relaxing for a couple hours, Husband and I did the same thing.
Turku is a fabulous city. I hope we get the chance to go back and spend more time there. From what I’ve read, it has quite a lot to offer and I would love to see more.