Oct 22, 2005
Rick had expressed an interest in seeing a supposedly fantastic monument dedicated to Jean Sibelius some famous 20th century composer
. So we jumped on a tram to check it out. As always we ended up in the wrong place and had to backtrack a mile only to find the statue was less than impressive. We aren't sure what the person who wrote the book saw but they must have been in some other country. After this pointless trek we headed back into town to see Senaatin Tori (Senate Square) and the white domed Tuomiokirkko (Dome Church).
The Ice Hotel didn't eventuate so we decided to check out the next best thing, an Ice Bar. Thinking it would be very popular and crowded on a Saturday night we headed there for a pre-dinner drink. We first had to buy a ticket that entitled us to a free drink then we were shown down to the bar (basically a big freezer) having to don silver wrap cloaks prior to entering. We had our drink, some Finlandia vodka mixes, and then with little else to do in the small bar we left to get some dinner at the Manhattan Steak House. Somehow Megs accidentally procured a pair of Finlandia Vodka gloves on the way out. We're not sure how they got hidden under her arm pit.
Note: Rick and Megan do not recommend stealing.
We set the alarm early so we could enjoy a sauna before checking out Helsinki and found the separate male and female saunas to be very, well ....intimate. Nudity all round as Megs had flash backs of Luang Prabang. These Nordic people definitely aren't shy. After sweating away we set out to the main square to catch a ferry, which cut its way through ice frozen over the open sea, to Suomenlinna Island. Cutting through the ice was amazing as we'd never seen anything like it. The island was an old Swedish military fortification, built to stave off an expected Russian invasion in the 18th century that is now listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. The snow and emptiness of the place gave it an almost magical feel but we could easily picture it swarming with tourists in summer. Although we (read Megs) don't like the cold very much we are very happy to be avoiding all the other tourists often having whole hotels and popular tourist sites to ourselves.