Helsinki Quick Stop

Hating to leave Copenhagen, but on to Kastrup airport for the hour and a half flight to Helsinki. Huge airport with a security line stretching (seems like) its entire length. We arrive in late afternoon (lose an hour going eastward) and pick up our local guide for a mostly driving tour of the city.

We make a quick stop at a beautiful park (Finland is full of beautiful parks for everyone to enjoy as much of the outside as possible). This one focuses on a memorial to one of its favorite composers, Jean Sibelius.

The park borders on the Baltic Sea. We’re experiencing a staggering fortune of amazing weather. The temperature has been rising into the low to mid 70s with variations of puffy clouds and blue skies. It looks the same all the way through Russia.

A handsome, moody, and not particularly nice man, but his music is loved by…most.

Finland is a country of 5.5 million, covered 75% by forest. Finnish and Swedish are both official languages, but only a few depend on Swedish. Finland was part of Sweden until 1809 when Russia took over. It wasn’t until 1917 that they got their independence.

The country is a unicameral parliament with a President. It still has a rich mix of cultures – Finnish, Swedish, Russian, and some Laplanders who would rather be called Sami.

Above is the Helsinki Cathedral overlooking the harbor.

These are some of the governmental buildings in the main square.

And on the other side of the square. The city is very easy to navigate and our guide gives us some good recommendations for dinner – Too little time to explore. Too bad. We also passed by the old Olympic venues and some spectacular architecture by Aalto and Saarinen. Unfortunately couldn’t get good photos from the bus.

After quickly settling into the hotel we stepped out to dinner in the old town area. Sunday night was a problem however since not all restaurants are open and the others fully booked – and there were six of us together. We lucked out as the oldest restaurant in town had a cancellation. Had a nice, relaxing dinner with our new-found friends. Marsha chose local salmon (basically the Finnish National dish) and I devoured one of Finlands 200,000 reindeer; at least the sirloin portion of one. Surprisingly tender and flavorful. We tried to bed down early since we had to leave for our train at 10 the next morning — and we wanted to peruse the outdoor market that sets up every morning at the harbor.

Marsha, in her element, for some last minute shopping.

Meet a really good potter there as well. Too bad, too hard to carry back.

Then off to the high speed (sort of) train with a few stops and three and a half hours to St. Petersburg. Posting from the train now. Probably why the typing is a little bumpy right now. Oops, here comes the Russian soldier for our passports… Talk at you from Russia.

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