Sightseeing in Helsinki

Trip Start Apr 29, 2011
Trip End Sep 03, 2011

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Flag of Finland  , Southern Finland,
Wednesday, July 13, 2011

We woke to a cloudy morning with some sun and by around 10:30, we were back at the rail station. The very first thing we wanted to do was to find a restaurant that Julie, Rosemary and I went to the last time we were in Helsinki in April 1999, when together with two other friends, Helen Banks and Elaine Mitchell, we had a stop-over en route to Thailand, where we went to dive with whale sharks. This cafe was quite unique, in that it featured ancient Zetor tractors. Now not everyone is the daughter of a farmer, unlike Elaine, as none of us had heard of them at that time but here is a tiny bit of information:- The first Zetor, the Z25, was released in 1945 and the name Zetor comes from the amalgamation of the well known (in Russia) ZET (the logo of the Zbrojovka Brno arms factory) and 'or' , the last two letters from ‘tractor’. So now you know.  Anyway, we found the cafe, amazingly Julie knew in advance where it was, what a memory – but it was closed until 12:00 so we decided to have lunch there in due course.

It had been suggested that a good way of finding one’s whereabouts in Helsinki was to take a ride on the T3 tram, which has a convoluted roughly figure-of-eight route around the main sights. We did this but frankly, it was a disappointment, we saw nothing that we wanted to return to on foot. Things did improve enormously after lunch and no, no alcohol was taken to aid our changes of mind! By the time the circular trip had ended, it was way after lunchtime (in my opinion) and we hot-footed back to Zetor. We had prompt service, 3 lots of fried herring, one sausages done in a sauna pail and one stew of lamb, beef and reindeer – a sort of Lob Scouse (a recipe introduced by Norwegian sailors to British ports and adopted by Liverpool as its’ signature dish). All very good and after a couple of photos, one included, we set off to look at churches and other stuff.

As I said, things improved during the afternoon. The sun was now out in force, there was a lovely sailing breeze in the right direction for Trevor and Derek, lucky so and so’s and we came across the spacious and impressive Senate square with the Cathedral towering over it on one side. Inside, the cathedral is quite austere but the stainless steel and gold organ pipes were really quite special.

Once out of the cathedral, the next building we wanted to have a look inside was the Russian Orthodox Uspenski  Cathedral, built around 1850 and with thirteen gold-capped onion domes, a compact, brick structure on a slight hill. The route there takes one down to the quayside and instantly the atmosphere changed to a maritime one, all hustle and movement, great fun. Sadly it was now 16:03 and the cathedral closed to visitors at 16:00, so that would have to wait for another day. We therefore wandered to the open market area and ascertained the whereabouts of the Suomenlinna ferry, the islands that we would be visiting tomorrow and before we caught the boat to St Petersburg. Then it was back to the 21V bus, a quick stop in the supermarket and back to the boat for a use-up-the-fridge meal, as we were planning to leave everything off whilst we were away. Before we knew it, it was 23:00 and bed time. A good day.
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