Helsinki & St. Petersburg with Kids

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Our university friend Andy and his family are on sabbatical in Helsinki for the 2013/14 school year. Since meeting up in Finland is a tad more realistic than Texas, it was really important to us to meet up with them while they’re around. But, the prospect of a city break with two kids in tow was my idea of a nightmare—wasn’t quite sure how it would go. BUT, all things considered it was a fun time. We just had to break from our usual cafe/bar rotation scheme and work in a few playgrounds, picnics and lots of running. :)
Helsinki seemed to be a very lovely and liveable European city. It’s incredibly kid friendly and the locals are very kind. And we would definitely recommend St Petersburg for a holiday…it’s GORGEOUS–every corner is stunning. And there are loads of restaurants with cool kiddie play areas incorporated inside and out. And both cities do alfresco well. I’d go back with gusto…LOVED IT.
So, I’ve been proven wrong. It’s possible to do a city break with kids. Yet again, G was right :)

So, what did we get up to?

Helsinki
-Lovely cafe day spent along the bay watching the boats come and go while W played in the sandpit.
-Walking about market square–W spied some lovelies in a toy shop window along the way. Got to love Scandi design?!

St Petersburg
-Running along the paths and playing in the sandbox alongside the Church of our Saviour on Spilled Blood (ie the famous onion dome church in St. Petersburg.
-Lattes and croissants in a posh French cafe. [Overheard a tourist asking for a Russian treat--to which the server replied 'everything here is French?' :) ]
-A canal boat tour which W LOVED thanks to kiddie Dramamine [adding Dramamine to the must-have kiddie travel list :) ]
-A picnic, lattes and a run about in the summer gardens
-Running out the kids energy before entering the Hermitage to see a few (thousand?!) paintings by the masters
-Lots of dining in kid-friend restaurants complete with indoor and outdoor playspaces. We in the UK could learn much from the Russians and Scandinavians on being family-friendly. And YAY for traveling with friends. Old friends are the best friends, as the cliche goes :)

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