Helsinki Day 1

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A good overview of Finland and its geography. Its relationship with the Soviet Union hasn’t always been “ neighborly”. Until 1809, Finland was part of Sweden, when it then became part of Russia. It remained part of Russia until gaining its Independence in 1917. Only Finland resisted the Russian invasion in 1939-40 in the Winter War. After WWII, Finland was forced to cede part of Lapland to Russia.

Other former Swedish colonies of Iceland and Estonia also speak separate languages, though many Finns speak Swedish as their second language, as well as English. But Finnish is completely different than Swedish, often with no similarity in the two languages’ word for the same place.

Helsinki is located across the bay of Finland from Estonia and Latvia. It’s a 14 hour ferry ride (each way) from Helsinki to St. Petersburg Russia, something we considered, but were unable to do because of the timing (72 hour Russian visa requires entry and exit via the ferry).

Finland is part of the EU and its currency is the Euro. While most every ATM I’ve ever seen is labeled ATM or Geldautomat (German), Finnish ATMs are called “Otto” “cash from the wall”.

We walked past the train station to find our way down to the Esplanade, a park, and then to the harbour.

It’s Saturday and as we enter the area of the Esplanade, it’s obviously a very popular place to be. Some musicians playing (singing in English) in the middle of the long path bordered on each side by tall trees, while another played violin near a statue; there’s a market down at the harbour with small food stands, lots of fresh fruit stands, selling strawberries, blueberries.

Esplanade is a park in the central part of Helsinki that eventually leads down to the harbour. Some of the statues have a QR code on the base that will take you to a website with information about the statue.

There are many small islands visible from the harbor. One of them contains the Helsinki Zoo and you have to take a small boat to get there.

Further on from the market is the Uspenski Cathedral, an Eastern Orthodox church.

Our legs couldn’t stand the thought of climbing these steps today, so maybe tomorrow afternoon we’ll explore the Helsinki Lutheran cathedral.

While we rest up, go listen to some good Finnish heavy metal music.

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