And the clouds rolled by

Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
Trip End Aug 19, 2011

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What I did
Hop on/hop off tour

Flag of Finland  , Southern Finland,
Saturday, August 6, 2011

So the sun was up at roughly 4:30 a.m. but I tried to sleep through it anyway, at least until 8 or 9. I achieved my goal and then got up refreshed at 8:30. My plan was to take the "hop on/off tour" so I could use the bus as my transportation for the next 24 hours. I have always had a good experience this way and today was no exception.

The bus costs 25 euros for a 24-hour ticket and consists of 2 routes.  I took the first tour of the northwest quadrant and enjoyed it very much, then followed up with the second tour. All in all, one and a half hours to see the main sights of interest.  I am struck by how modern and functional Helsinki is.

We started off at Senate Square, which is the sight of the main church seen in almost every image of the city.  The sun was high in the sky at 10:00 as the bus took off through the center and into the heart of the city.  Heading down the main shopping street near the ports and then heading north, pointing out the lovely parks and modern buildings, while explaining the short and simple history of Finland.

The greenery and architecture work well together to make the city most charming. As a stark contrast to many of the other European cities I've visited, there really is no "ancient" center.  Most of the buildings are 19th and 20th century with even a few 21st century buildings.  A country famous for design, I have seen some of the most amazing shopping centers and public spaces imaginable.  

The tour was pleasant and I can continue to use my ticket to go spend more time in some of the locations later.

After the tour, I was feeling a bit peckish and thus decided to get myself a sandwich as the clouds were rolling in.  By the time I finished my lunch, it was beginning to rain, so here I am in my room relaxing and writing about my experience.

When it stops raining, I will go out and spend some time on foot at the locations from the tour.

So after about two hours the rain stopped and I began a very nice walk to the "Church Of The Rock" I'm not 100% big on churches but it is very interesting as it is built, or should I say dug, into the bedrock of Helsinki with nothing but the dome sticking up from the ground. It looks a bit like a flying saucer landed there.  Unfortunately, it was closed for a private wedding so I couldn't go inside, which I hope to tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I continued my walk through a lovely and enormous seaside park until I reached the famous monument to Sibelis, the official composer of Finland. It's a very unusual sculpture in the middle of the park, which looks like a pipe organ.

I enjoyed watching some of the tourists too, as they were wondering just how to photograph the thing.

I then continued past the sports stadium and along the beautiful shore, which seems like a lake but which is actually part of the Baltic Sea.  It is lined with very modern buildings such as the Finlandia Conference Center, Opera house and Center for Music and Art.  The buildings are incredibly modern and interesting as they are in stark contrast to the seaside and greenery.

Along the way were lots of tourists and Fins alike, enjoying the cool post rain air.

As I got back downtown I crossed the "Glass Palace," a 1920's art deco building, directly across from the 1990's Bus terminal building/shopping center. I couldn't help myself from stopping at an old-fashioned style diner, where I treated myself to an amazing bacon cheeseburger, dripping with mayonnaise and ketchup.  I haven't had one like that since my trip to Austria last winter.

It was amazing and my day was too!
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