Still cold in Scandanavia

Trip Start Jun 08, 2009
Trip End Jun 22, 2009

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Flag of Finland  , Southern Finland,
Monday, June 15, 2009

First, happy birthday, Lou!

Second, condolences to all the Magic fans!

We arrived in Helsinki this morning to more cold and rain.

Despite the rain and cold, Helsinki is a charming little city. After another disorganized start to the excursion, we finally made our way through the city to a ferry. Steph was so disappointed in how the excursions were organized this morning, she is actually keeping her new career choice stable and still wants to be the Royal Caribbean Excursion Manager.

Today's excursion was to the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress off the coast of Helsinki. The fort was started in the 1700s when Finland was part of Sweden. Since then it has also been under Russia rule and then finally under independent Finland. Today the fort is a residential area, with about 900 residents and a number of museums and historical sites. It was also named a UNESCO heritage site.

Our Amazing Race moment for the day occurred when we realized that the fort brewed their own beer! To complete this "Road Block", we first separated from the tour group with the guise that we needed to use the restroom. We then took off (after an actual restroom break) for the brewery which was clear across the island. We had about 30 minutes to find it and consume some local brews before our ferry left. Rest assured we completed the task, beating all of the other teams (even though none of the other tour group members knew that they were in a race. They lost anyway!)

After returning to the mainland, as our tour was officially over, we went out to find the Temppeliaukio Church, or the “Rock Church”. This church was built into (or out of?) a huge rock/boulder in the city. While it doesn’t look like much from the outside, inside it was beautiful and completely different from any church we have been in.

While we were there we stopped to use the restroom, where we had to pay 1 Euro each (about $1.50) to use the facilities, much to Steph’s chagrin.

As we were sitting and admiring the church, we were surprised to see a children’s choir come up and sing. We think they were from Lithuania, but we could be wrong. The director didn’t use a microphone, so it was hard to hear. The children performed beautifully, none the less.

We stopped at Santa’s Mini Mart (read: Crap House) for a brief souvenir shop and refreshments. For those keeping track, I have now sampled Coke Zero from France, Italy, UK and Finland.

After a long day we headed back the ship to defrost and get ready for our first day in St. Petersburg tomorrow!

Bernie’s Highlight: Helsinki was a really cool little city; one that I could live in.
Bernie’s Lowlight: Hate to say it, but our tour guide talked too much for my Adult ADD to handle.

Steph’s Highlight: The Rock Church
Steph’s Lowlight: It was paying to use the bathroom at the church until I realized that it counts as “my offering” (right, Pastor Bob!?).

Rebecca’s Highlight: The fort was really neat.
Rebecca’s Lowlight: It was so cold I could see my breath! Unacceptable!
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