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Estonia, Latvia and Finland 2016

A Girlguiding North East England delegation of girls and Leaders travelled to Latvia, Estonia and Finland at the end of July 2016 to take part in community work and deliver Free Being Me training! Here’s a diary of their trip so far…

Day 2 – Lydia

After not sleeping particularly well, we all woke up at 8.30 in my room so we could get breakfastELF1 on time in the leaders apartment. We all made our packed lunches for the day and headed out into Helsinki. Our apartments were quite central which I liked as when we were walking to Senate Square, we passed huge, beautiful buildings all around us. It made me really love Helsinki as it is so light and open (the buildings in the area where we stayed were all painted in creams and whites). After looking around Senate Square, we continued being directed by Jazz to Market Square which was filled with stalls and people. We split into groups and I went around with Meg, Anna, Rebekah and Sophie and looked at souvenirs and badges. I was really surprised to find a lot of Moomin memorabilia around but I later found out that it is because the creator is Finnish. Some of us also went on the Helsinki Wheel while I sat and took lots of photos. After having explored the square, we reconvened at the fountain to go on a boat tour around all of Helsinki’s islands for an hour and a half. It was really hot and I even put on my sun hat despite my aversion to wearing it! Once we returned to dry land, we ate lunch and had a stop at McDonalds to buy McFlurry’s. We had a break while enjoying our ice creams and formulated a plan as to what to do for the rest of the afternoon. We decided we all wanted to go to the island fortress, Suommelinna, which is one of the most visited sites in Helsinki. It took 15/20 to get to the island and then we split up into groups to wander around. It was beautiful with lots of battlements and old stone buildings as well as small beaches and coves. Meg and Anna even went paddling before we headed back to get the ferry back to Market Square. We all had to be quick though as we were meeting up with the NE England Jamboree group who had finished the camp and were ELF2visiting Helsinki. We walked for ages until we found the pizzeria where we were eating. I don’t usually eat pizza but the ham and pineapple pizza I had was really good. After chatting for a long time and finding out about the Jamboree, our group returned to our accommodation to get some sleep for sightseeing and travelling the next day.


Day 3 – Rebekah

After a very long sleep in the lovely Helsinki apartments we woke up at about 9 ready to have some delicious breakfast and face the whole malarkey of packing our bags again. At around 10:30 we finally said out last goodbyes to the apartments as we set off to go on one of the open top buses. The walk into the centre (where the bus stop was) took about 15 minutes and we passed of beautiful buildings and scenery which we were able to take lots of photos of. There was also lots of fire engines that went racing past, their sirens ringing in our ears as they went. Anyway, after the lovely (but very painful) walk, we finally arrived at the bus stop. It was about 10:50 and the bus was due to arrive at 11. However, at the bus stop there were two women who informed us that there was a technical problem with the bus and we were to move to another bus stop. With our backpacks on, we crawled all the way to the other bus stop, which was essentially 2 minutes away, but felt like an eternity. After arriving at the right bus stop, we waited ‘patiently’ for the bus with our bags dumped on the floor. When the bus arrived (5 minutes later) we all loaded our bags on and got seated comfortably, the leaders on the bottom of the bus and us girls sat in the open top section. The bus journey lasted roughly an hour and a bit and we got to see some of Helsinki’s most famous buildings and sights. This included the cathedral, the theatre and some statues. After the wonderful and relaxing bus journey, we ELF3made our way to the ferry port in order to set sail to Tallinn (Estonia). The ferry set off at around 3:30 and took around 2 and a half hours. On the ferry, we got the chance to go to the shops, buy ourselves a refreshing drink and rest our legs. The ferry arrived in Tallinn at around 5:45 and we had a 15 minute walk to the hostel which we are staying in. Once we had arrived at the hostel, we all went for a walk to explore the local area and we went to find somewhere to get tea. At around 7, we found a restaurant where we sat down and ate. At the restaurant, me, Inés and Megan shared a platter of bread and cheese which was lovely and really filled me up, and we had some really tasty lemonade with it. At around 9:30 we headed back to the hostel and to our rooms, ready to get a good nights sleep. On our way back, we bumped into some Austrian scouts in the middle of Tallinn who stopped to take a selfie with us. They were very happy and excited to see us and stopped to have a small conversation.

Day 4 – Inés 

ELF4After settling into our new place to stay, MoHostel, and rested overnight, we woke up and had breakfast at 10:30. After our croissants and other pastries, we finished getting ready and we were told our activities for the day. We split into groups and were able to go explore in Tallinn, many of us stayed in the old town of Tallinn as it is full of history and Has many things to do there. I was in a group with Evie and Jess, as a group we decided we wanted to walk along the streets and if we spotted something we wanted to do, we’d do it. We spent most of the morning in and out of souvenir shops where one of the shopkeepers told us about the viewing points of Tallinn and where to find them. We had lunch in the local park and then decided to check the viewing points out. We had to climb many steps to get there but it was totally worth it once we saw the views of Tallinn. From there we went to visit the other viewing point which showed most of the city. While on the way to the points, we saw many historical monuments and cathedrals including the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of Alexander Nevski. From the view points ELF5we walked down a couple of steps until we were outside the old city walls, there we found the Tallinn flower festival where people from all over the world had come to decorate there gardens. After that, we made our way back to the hostel for some resting time before we went out for a traditional Estonian meal. After the meal, we went on a walk to show the rest of our group the spectacular views we had found that day. By the time we had finished our walk, we were ready for bed and for an exciting day ahead. 

Day 5 – Evie 

It’s our last morning in Pärnu! 

ELF6We hired loads of bikes (and a tandem for 10 seconds before Amber and Cassy realised it is very hard to ride a tandem) and went riding round the town for an hour, some of us were better than others! Then we packed all our bags and went to the beach for a few hours. This mainly consisted of sleeping and applying lots of sun cream to keep Cassy happy. After that, we went back to the hostel only to get booted out again by the cleaner, but luckily our bus driver wasn’t too long to pick us up to take us to Sigulda!

After a 2 hour bus journey we finally arrived at our lodge – it’s so pretty but the toilets were soooo smelly. We freshened up and went on the hunt for some food. We finally found a shopping centre with a restaurant. Full from our massive pizza’s, we went shopping in the supermarket- not remembering the long walk it took to get there! Very sweaty and hot we got back to the lodge, unpacked the shopping then went to bed ready for the next adventurous day!

To be continued…