|We are ending the circle either here or in Helsinki depending upon which is deemed closer to St. Petersburg...The old town is one of the nicest, having toured about as many "old towns" as we have castles it says something...went into the oldest continuously working pharmacy in the world mostly run by 10 generations of the Burchart Family - first mentioned in city documents in 1422 as a chemist shop run by fellow named Johann Molner.
We stayed in a hostel right next to the old town, the bus station, train station and only a short walk to the ferry which we will take to Helsinki. Mari is going to see more of this place than we, perhaps she can write more about the sights, we spent an inordinate amount of time internetting to arrange plane tickets and just taking care of "business" so to speak...but still got a good flavor of the place, easy to get around via tram or bus or walk, and the weather has been great, even a bit hot altho clouds have tempered the heat several days and made us think that perhaps "normal" weather was returning to the area...but it did not. People here are friendly but shy, 40% Russian and the rest a mix mostly of Scandinavian decent - Finnish mostly. Being a port town and a tourist town it is bustling and quite wealthy and has been since its inception sometime around 1200 AD.
Mari here: I spent a few days in Tallinn after Helsinki. For me a visit to Peter the Great's Summer Palace tied the ribbon into a bow on the completed Circletrip. We started in St.Petersburg and the first place we visited there was the Hermitage, the Winter Palace of the Russian Tzars. So now my trip ends with a visit to their Summer Palace, which is set in a beautiful large park with mature trees, with many flower beds and fountains surrounding the palace, which in many ways resembles the Hermitage, only smaller. So even though we didn't completely close the circle and end in Russia, in a sense we did because for a long time, this place was Russia.
It is strange now that we are looking at only a few more days, what was once soo far in the future is here and time seems to be compressed, not the normal feeling of "well, what are we to do next?" and take what comes!