Our Diary News from Helsinki, Finland

The Immigration officer on board the train greeted us with a smile and cleared us in speedily and efficiently - the only delay was that he stopped to look at all our visas and stamps - many I'm sure he hadn't seen before. "You certainly like to travel," he commented. We were now well and truly in Europe and our British passports gave us leave travel without visas.

Finland is proud that it shook off the Russian yoke in the late 19th century and fought to keep out of the Soviet umbrella. Peter the Great tried to create a mini St Petersburg in Helsinki and much of the architecture around the main square looked the same. Apart from this, the Finns have made it their own. The only downside was the high cost of living - we found everything expensive.

Our walking tour was again very informative. We were enjoying these and decided to join one at every city we visited as they were so informative and good value. After the 2-3 hour walking tour, we, as always, gravitated towards the harbour. There were many yachts dressed overall - we chatted to a Danish couple who were stowing their dinghy and found out they were part of the Baltic Rally and, like all cruisers, were celebrating their arrival at this major stop over. Another highlight was the food stalls on the water front - we discovered the salmon and vegies were superb, as was the reindeer with loganberry jam. A punnet of fresh berries polished off our feast.

For our final day in Helsinki we joined our own Baltic cruise - the ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn in Estonia where we would step back 400 years into the past - and leap forward into a vision of the future for us all.