Thursday, May 10, 2018

Helsinki, Finland

We took the shuttle bus from the port and were dropped off in central Helsinki. We  walked down the tree-lined Esplanade Avenue to the docks of Market Square.

From the docks we boarded a small ferry headed to the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress. I now know why there are so many Finnish people in Northern Ontario.  Here I was in Helsinki, Finland but it could easily have been a sunny spring day in Northern, Ontario. Many large rounded rocks jutted out of the water creating small islands in the waters. The similarities of the two places were uncanny.

The Sea Fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which was built in 1748 by the Swedes (Finland at that time was part of Sweden) to defend themselves from the Russians. A few decades later, Russia did take over the area and Finland finally became independent in the 20th century.

The Sea Fortress is one of the biggest in the world; it’s actually spread over seven islands. The area is also home to over 900 inhabitants. We were just in the main parts of the fort and during our exploration we found underground tunnels, bunkers for the guns which looked to me like hobbit homes,  ramparts, stone gates, small museums and more. There were a lot of  geese, ducks, crows and other bird life around. I even had a very large hare cross my track.

Upon returning to the Market Square docks, we stopped for a reindeer hot dog, moose meat pie and Finnish donut for lunch. 

We continued on our way, checking out
the Orthodox Uspensky Cathedral. This cathedral sits on a hill overlooking Market Square and the harbour. 

Walking to Senate Square, we looked at the Russian monument to Alexander II before ascending lots of stairs to enter the beautiful white Lutheran Cathedral (aka the Senate Square Cathedral or the White Cathedral or the Helsinki Cathedral).

Quickening our pace because we were starting to run low on time, we walked through a high end shopping area on the way to see the Art Deco train station.

Our final stop was the Temppeliaukio Church, also known as the Church in the Rock. The church is built right into solid rock with three sides of the walls being natural rock 

We made our way back to the bus stop and caught one of the last shuttle buses back to the ship. 

After dinner we went up to the solarium deck to relax, read and watch the sunset. 

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