On the Baltic Sea, about 200 miles west of St. Petersburg, we arrived in the capital of Finland, Helsinki, the next morning – still game for touring but growing weary after 3 straight days of ports,with no restful sea days to recharge.
Finland is tucked in between Sweden and Russia. It was part of Sweden almost 900 years, until invaded by the Russians in 1808. It became independent in the early 1900s. Helsinki’s population is approximately 600,000.
It looks like this port area, one of several in Helsinki, is being extensively expanded. Apparently they are dumping rock to extend to fill and extend the area. There is also a very large area of apartment construction adjoining the port area, with perhaps 25 large complexes under construction.
In this port our faithful hop a bus was right outside the terminal (which was a tent) and we jumped on and headed out. We decided to stay on the bus for a full circuit to get a feel for the city. One and a half times around, we jumped off in the middle of the city and found a great little coffee shop, for coffee and a delicious croissant, which was part of a multiplex movie complex, built into a restored building.
Rather than rejoining the bus, we walked a few blocks to a most unusual church, which is a tourist spot here in Helsinki. The church,Temppeliaukio, is carved into the top of a rock hill, covered with a dome top. It is an active Lutheran church, and choir practice was underway as we visited.
Even in this northern climate, at this late season, flowers are blooming near the church.
We strolled through the town for a few blocks, and rejoined the bus as it headed into city center, near Stockmann, Helsinki’s premier department store.
This white tent-like structure was on the main street. It had an “airlock” type entrance and we could see people inside and a speaker addressing the people, but I never could figure out what it was – a Finnish version of free speech on the streets? Someone selling something?
The bus dropped us at Senate Square, which is bounded by three large buildings.
On the north, the square is dominated by Helsinki Cathedral, built in the early 1800’s during a period of Russian control, to honor Czar Nicholas I.
The Cathedral is flanked on the square by City Hall and Helsinki University.
While in the square I was able to find an ATM and get some local currency, which in Finland is the Euro. If you have never navigated an ATM in Finnish, you have a real challenge in front of you!!
A few blocks from Senate Square is the market – fresh vegetables and fresh fish – with an amusement park on the far side.
Rejoining the bus, we passed this beach and heard a commentary on the benefits of swimming in the winter, which is so popular here that the government keeps several spots free of ice to meet the demand. No thanks.
As we passed the shipyards we saw these two azipods being prepared for installation in some ship. I am fascinated with the evolution of large ship propulsion from the old style where a shaft was paired to an engine with a propeller on the end of the shaft. The new method of propulsion is an electric engine with a prop attached suspended under the hull. It allows for much greater mobility for large ships. This is exactly the same technique used in a trolling motor for a fishing boat – I wonder if that is where the idea came from?
This is the ultimate in bicycle and pedestrian lanes – this roadway is for people and bikes only and runs below grade into the center of the city.
While returning to the ship, we passed this restaurant – a striking design.
Back to the ship and off to Stockholm.