Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Cruise Chronicles – Day 6 – Helsinki, Finland

We crossed another time zone overnight (now seven hours earlier than east coast U.S.) and tied up the behemoth during breakfast. We are now in Helsinki, the capitol of Finland. Our pier has the town’s name printed in letters that might be seen from outer space.

 Need a Wider Lens, Helsinki, Finland (13 May 2019)

By 10 AM, we are off on a shuttle bus to circle the city sights. With over 650,000 residents, it is by far the most populated Finnish city and the center of all the country’s major activities. This most northern of Europe’s capitals is considered one of the world’s most livable cities.

First settled as a Swedish trading outpost in 1550, the town grew slowly over the centuries that followed.  Along the way, the region experienced setbacks caused by wars, plagues and the like. Finland has been a nation independent of Sweden and/or Russia only since 1917. 

Rock Church, Helsinki (13 May 2019)

One of the shuttle stops was at the popular Rock Church…which is easier to pronounce than the Temppeliaukio Church. The Lutheran sanctuary, carved out of solid rock and opened in 1969, is a popular stop on city tours. As you might imagine, the dense rock walls and copper-domed roof make for superior acoustics and the church is a primo concert venue. 

Outside the Rock Church, Helsinki (13 May 2019)

In a park named for the Finnish composer and national treasure, Jean Sebelius, a monument was erected in 1967. Six hundred hollow steel pipes are welded together to create a pattern that evokes soaring music. Naturally, there were criticisms from traditionalists, including griping about the absence of any image of the man himself. The artist succumbed to the pressure and added his likeness on the right. In shaping Sibelius’ face, the artist irritated other critics because she chose to depict him in his creative age and not as the familiar, elderly man the nation adored.

Sibelius Monument, Helsinki (13 May 2019)

This is also a popular stop on city tours. Buses lined up on the park’s perimeter. Hordes of selfie addicts insert themselves between you and the objects you came to see. One must be patient if one wants a picture of the monument by itself. What a concept.

Sibelius Park, Helsinki (13 May 2019)

While waiting for our bus, I looked back into the park and saw this iconic image of the Great White North. I much prefer landscape/horizontal perspectives but this simple scene begs to be seen in a portrait/vertical format. I wanted to find an angle that didn’t include crossing paths or people…anything that would distract from the interesting bark and leaves.

Market Square, Helsinki (13 May 2019)

Another popular attraction is Market Square, a dense collection of vendors with all manner of merchandise…produce, flowers, carved and knit goods, the usual plastic and t-shirt souvenirs…and some interesting food items. We weren’t feeling too meaty at the time so we eschewed the reindeer burgers and moose meat pies for French fries to share.

The Market is on the waterfront. Docked there was a private yacht big enough to find on The Google. My one photograph of it does not do it justice so I recommend you see the images on the web site. Let’s just leave you with the knowledge that you too can charter it for a mere $1.35 million a week. 

Helsinki Cathedral, Helsinki (13 May 2019)

We split up for some individual time and I walked a few blocks to Senate Square. Facing the Square on one side is the Government Palace. On another side is the main building of the University of Helsinki and between the two is the Helsinki Cathedral. Completed in 1852, the Finnish Lutheran church might be the most photographed building in the country.

Every Statue is a Sea Gull’s Toilet,
 Helsinki (13 May 2019)

The Market and Senate Squares were the last stops for us today and this old guy’s bad feet were begging to be parked somewhere. I was in no mood to climb the stairs and see more of the Cathedral so I shuffled back to the bus and was glad to take my shoes off on the boat. I enjoyed the best dinner of the cruise in flip-flops.

Tomorrow will be another day in another country…a grand two-day stay in St. Petersburg.


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