Haltia — gateway to Nuuksio

On Sunday, many places are shut in Helsinki. So we headed to Haltia, The Finnish Nature Centre. It was a popular start for hiking in Nuuksio National Park.

Google Maps said the 80-minute journey needed two buses to get there. We walked to the first bus stop but couldn’t find it. Then we saw a metro station. Perhaps it was the metro we needed (I find the icons on Google Maps unclear). In the station, however, there were trains and the metro and possibly something else. We asked someone where we could get the U245 from, but he said he was not familiar with it. Then we saw that it was leaving from platform 28 and saw a sign towards it. We went down two escalators and just saw a single platform. We looked around and spotted numbers over glass doors exiting the platform. These numbers were platform numbers for buses! We’d found our first bus: it was waiting on platform 28. This took us to Esbo, from where we got the second bus quite quickly (they were hourly).

Since there was still plenty of snow and ice around, our plan was to walk some of the easier trails. The friendly woman at the visitor centre pointed out a few options. We had a quick look at the restaurant to see what the food was like for later. It looked promising.

We headed off for the blue trail. When we got to it, it was covered in old snow and was quite slippery. After some deliberating, we walked along the road, which was clear of snow. We didn’t walk far before heading for a ski slope to watch the skiers.

Before long, we returned to the visitor centre and headed down to the frozen lake. We avoided the woman at the visitor centre in case she asked about the walk we’d wimped out of. We did see some locals walking and they were sliding around but managing to stay upright.

Given how little walking we’d done, we weren’t that hungry! However, we’d learnt that Finlanders tend to have their main meal at lunch time. This can consist of a buffet of hot dishes and salads. These are generally better value than evening meals. So we decided to have a buffet lunch at the centre.

I had the carrot soup with bread to start and “cabbage casserole with pulled oats and lingonberries”. It was delicious! Lingonberries (new to me) are a bit like cranberries. I added herby roast potatoes, a spelt salad, and a few other sides. Since none of the desserts were vegan, the server gave me one of the chocolate brownies behind the counter, which she boxed up for me since our bus was coming soon. Buses are hourly and we didn’t want to miss it. I was so full up that I didn’t return to the buffet for more helpings.

It was good to get out of central Helsinki and see a different area. For the afternoon, we were heading back to the centre to visit the Helsinki Art Museum and Helsinki Cathedral.