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Taking The Ferry From Tallinn To Helsinki

I saw a boat to Finland and hopped on it.

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I did not intend to be on a boat riding towards Finland.

I didn’t even intend to go to Estonia or even to Latvia for that matter. This foray into the upper Baltic states all started when I was sitting in the Warsaw airport with two boarding passes in my hand: one to Riga and another from Riga to Vilnius, Latvia. I looked at them both and then threw the latter one in the trash.

I decided that I would stay for a while in Latvia. This sentiment led to Estonia, which, apparently, also led to Finland.

Last night I was walking around the port area of Tallinn and saw the passenger terminal. Why not go for a boat ride? I went in and asked where they had boats to.


Helsinki? Why not? I’ve never been to Helsinki before.

The ticket wasn’t too costly and I figured that I could just work on the boat — a floating office of sorts.

I was out of the hostel a little before six in the morning. I got a coffee and a cinnamon bun — some kind of discount combo package — at a gas station and walked over to the ferry port.

The ferry boarded and departed on the exact minutes it was scheduled to. At 7:30 the engines were revved and we were pulling out of the harbor.

I’ve been on many ferries during the course of this 16+ year journey, and they are usually rusted out hulks with wavering floatability. I have to admit that after riding around on the sledges that count as ferries on the lower Yangtze and perpetual sinkers of Indonesia, I was perhaps easy to impress, but this Baltic ferry was among the nicest that I’ve ever ridden.

The boat itself was like a sea-going shopping mall: it was all places to dine, drink, and spend money. There wasn’t even a seating area for cash-strapped plebians: you either had to sit in some bar or restaurant or hang out in the stairwell with the other urchins.

Or maybe this ferry was more like a sea-going casino, as there were gaming machines stuffed in every cranny that had enough free floor space to hold one. Gambling is my family’s pastime. I sacrificed five euro for nostalgia’s sake.

I set up a little office in the far rear of the ship before some huge windows with a view of the sea we’d just passed through. I kicked my feet up on the sill and alternated between staring off empty and working.

In two hours flat I was docked in the port of Helsinki.

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Filed under: Boat Travel, Estonia, Finland, Travel Diary

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3715 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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