Here is some more stuff from our trip to Finland! All these are taken either from our initial flight over - a couple from here in Chicago and a couple from the airport in Munich, where we connected and had some spare time. All of the rest are from around Helsinki. Note that these are taken over several days spread over two weeks, as we traveled into and out of Helsinki a lot.

Carina and Dan were very nice and picked us up at the airport and let us stay with them in their apartment. They also tour guided us around Helsinki a lot, and helped us arrange all of our travel plans, including the cruise to Stockholm and the train up to Kemi. Their apartment is convenient for walking around to cool places, as well as the public transportation system, which let us get easily around everywhere we needed to go. By the end of our trip, Heather and I even managed a couple quick swings through Helsinki on our own.

Above: Contrasts in architecture.

Below: Cool restaurant in a park in downtown Helsinki.

Bottom Center: The Italian Embassy, just a couple blocks up the street from Carina and Dan's apartment.

Above and Left: A statue in the park. There were statues everywhere we went depicting people wearing animal skins with the heads still attached, worn like hoods. Very odd.

Below: Construction sign in Finnish.

Top Left: Heather, Carina and Dan outside the Helsinki Market Hall. This is a big long building full of little stalls selling everything imaginable that you might want to eat - if you're Finnish. A lot of it is really scary looking fish of all shapes and sizes, much of it funny colors from having been smoked. There are also coffee places and little gift shops, sort of like Faneuil Hall in Boston, only with lots more scary fish. And pretty much every city we went to had one.

Top, Top Right and Left: The Lutheran Church, which is one of two huge churches in the middle of downtown. I don't really remember right now who the main guy in the statue is, although it is possibly Czar Nicholas from back when Finland was run by the Russians.

Bottom: And speaking of the Russians, these 4 pictures are of the Russian Orthodox Church, which is just a few blocks away. It is much more ornate and has all sorts of fancy, if somewhat strange, things everywhere, whereas the Lutheran Church is more subdued. Both, However are very dim inside and difficult to photograph. It didn't help that it was a very dark overcast day.

Top and Top Center: A couple different pictures of the "ferry" we took from Helsinki to Stockholm, and then back to Turku, Finland. They're called ferries, and they run a couple times a day, one in the morning, and one overnight, but they are these huge gigantic cruise ships. There are a couple competing ferry lines, Viking and Silja. We took the Silja line, and it was very nice, although the trip over to Stockholm was very rough sailing, and I didn't feel too hot. The trip back to Turku was much more pleasant, and we got to try out one of the restaurants. We took overnight trips both ways, so we also spent much of our time onboard asleep, which is good, because I'm not sure what we would have done for the full 14 hours otherwise.

Right Top and Bottom: A couple shots of the Russian Orthodox and Lutheran churches at night, taken from the deck of our cruise ship before sailing to Stockholm.

Top Left: The Helsinki Yacht Club, which is the oldest yacht club in Scandinavia.

Top Center: A statue of the Russian two headed eagle, with the dome of the Lutheran church in the background.

Top Right: A cool turtle sculpture down by the Harbor

Middle Left: Some swans and ducks begging for food.

Bottom Left: Another statue in the park. This one caused quite a stir when it was put up in about 1908, I believe, as it prominently features a naked woman. Heather seem to remember that she is supposed to represent the Spirit of Helsinki, although there were apparently a lot of Helsinkians put off by having their spirit represented by a naked woman.

Bottom Center: The market hall, as seen from across the Harbor.

Bottom Right: Heather, reading a guidebook.

These shots were all taken while waiting to catch a ferry out to the Island of Suomenlinna, which is an old fort on an island in the middle of Helsinki harbor. As you can see from a couple of these, the harbor tends to freeze up in the winter. The ferries, cruise ships and other boats tend to keep the ice pretty well broken up, but when it gets really bad, they have a couple big icebreaker boats that come in and clear out the major channels. What you can't see is that it was snowing like crazy this whole time. Somehow snow doesn't really show up in these pictures, though.

These top three are from Suomenlinna, before the snow got even worse and the camera started getting really wet, plus it was icy and slippery and hard to walk around, so I gave up on the picture taking. The bell is the largest church bell in Finland, although it is no longer in use. The church the bell is from is also a lighthouse. The island is an old fort that changed hands a lot between the Swedes and the Russians, before finally becoming Finnish when Finland won its independence from the Russians.

This bottom shot is from a strange restaurant that we ate dinner in a couple days before coming home. We ordered some warm canned fish appetizer, and they really just brought us a can of fish that they had warmed up. The even made us open the can ourselves. Very odd, although they were tastier than I had expected.

Well, that's all for this edition. Hopefully there will be more soon. Still to come, Stockholm, Turku, the Wedding and Carina's Parents farm!

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Posted 3-05-2006