Helsinki, Finland

Trip Start Apr 02, 2011
Trip End May 15, 2011

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Flag of Finland  , Uusimaa,
Saturday, May 9, 2009

Finland is an old land but a relatively new country. It was part of Sweden from the Thirteenth Century until it was ceded to Russia in 1809. Finland declared its independence during the Russian Revolution of 1917. Russia tried to retake Finland in 1939-1940, forcing Finland to successfully defend itself against the Soviet Union at the start of the Second World War. Finland is a part of the European Union and currently has the Euro as its currency. It is the only country to fully repay its war loan to the United States.

We arrived to a cold and wet Helsinki. A rain storm was over the city and kept up a steady drizzle for most of the day. With a temperature in the high 40's it was a cold and wet day in city on the Baltic Sea. The luck of the White Lady was absent today. So we bundled up with our warmest rain outfits including umbrellas and made our way into the city for our adventure in Finland.
We caught the 3T Tram and purchased 2 all day passes. The 3T is a special tram that runs by most of the city tourist attractions and it is rainproof. So we hopped on the tram with some other travelers from the ship. The ride was good and it took us through most of the city so that we could see the sights and evaluate if we wanted to get off and go to the sight. Our first sight that we selected was the Rock Church (Temppeliaukion Kirkko). It is a church that was hued out of a large rock outcropping in the city about 40 years ago. The top of the structure is covered by a copper roof. It was a very impressive sight as the design was modern and natural. The walls and floor was the rock outcropping. The interior was a good blend of manmade benches, alters and organ that fit right into the rock walls of the church. It was a unique church for Europe.
As we exited the Rock Church, the rain kept on coming down. Not a hard heavy rain just a good drenching drizzle of a rain. But today we were not walking as much and the tram would soon whisk us away to the outdoor market a couple of miles away. It was a large market area like a Farmer's Market but add in fish and tourist items. Today with the rain, the market was much smaller than it normally was on dry days. To see an Outdoor Market means that you need to go outdoors and see it. We did see all of the sights in spite of the weather. So we got off the tram and entered the market.  We walked thru the market and marveled that there could be fresh vegetables in this cold weather, but we soon learned the some of the vegetables came from other countries in the European Union that were located to the south of Finland.
Across the street from the Outdoor Market was the City Hall for Helsinki. It is a light blue building that sits beside the harbor and occupies a full block in width.  There is a height restriction of seven stories in Helsinki so some of the buildings were built wider and deeper to accommodate the occupants that work and live in the buildings. Looking to the right of the City Hall is the Uspenski Cathedral which is the largest Russian Orthodox Cathedral outside of Russia. It sits on a hill overlooking the harbor. We walked to the church and toured the inside of the building. It is similar to Catholic Cathedrals with the artworks and ornate furnishings. The Uspenski Cathedral is one of the two largest churches in the city. The other church is the Temppeliaukion Kirkko, a Lutheran Church just a few blocks away. It is similar in that it is an immense structure that dominates the cityscape around the church. It also sits high above the surrounding city. But inside, it is different; the Lutheran Church is elegant but plain on the interior. Much like the teachings of Luther, the church is functional. But the design and grandeur of the building is evident even if the ornate furnishings are not there. And the rains began to lessen and become a little erratic. So we decided to walk to the Central Train station located in City Center. Our port lecturer had told us he believes the Train Station to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. The city center is an extremely large square that holds the Train Station, the National Theater and the National Art Museum, along with numerous large department stores. The Train Station is a striking building with it Nordic Designs and artwork. Although it has been raining for most of the day and there was a dark rain overcast, the city is actually a lovely city that is an easy walking city with artwork scattered throughout it neighborhoods.
As the rain was gone for the day, we took the opportunity to walk back to the harbor and the waiting White Lady. The walk back was very good as we were able to see many building and parks that treated us with great architecture and lovely, though not yet green parks. As we reached the harbor area, we were at the Indoor Market which is like the Outdoor Market, but yes it is indoors. It also is like a large farmer's market with produce, fish catch, eating and tourist shops lining the two isles of the building. We stayed a short time to walk and observe all of the vegetables and fish items that filled most of the building. To this was added eating stalls that sold soups and fish. Yes, Helsinki is a city on the sea and like a most cities on the water; it is famous for its fish food. As we left the market we were but a few blocks from our ship.  

The ship departed the harbor in daylight and we were able to see the many small islands and buildings including a large fort that guards the entrance to the harbor

We saw Helsinki during a rain. It was not the best way to visit the city but we were still impressed with the city and its people. Helsinki does not have the high prices that we experienced in Copenhagen. It is a city that we may like to revisit on a bright summer day.


Where is Harriet? Hunt 

Today Harriet is in the Indoor Market is shopping while she is waiting for you to find her.

Chrystal Phillips on May 10, 2009  

I think i see her in the middle of the picture standing next to the person in what looks like a striped shirt and behind the person in the brown coat...did you get that? 
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