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Early evening, and it’s beautiful out, with a few high clouds, about 65 degrees. It stays light quite late here, until 10:30 pm.
If you recall, Finland gained its independence from Russia in 1917 (after the Russian Revolution), so this year is the 100th year of their independence.
There’s one slot in “OTTO” (ATM) if you have a EMV chip in your card and a different one if you don’t.
I mentioned that Finland has two official languages, Finnish and Swedish and that street signs are in both. This doesn’t make them any more intelligble to me though.
We’re taking a walk in the direction of the Lutheran Cathedral
There’s an organ concert at 8 pm tonight, but we’re not planning on staying for it; just to see the cathedral.
Before getting to the harbour, we paused in front of the Bank of Finland, where there is a statue of JV Stellman, a prominent politican. The base of the statue was damaged by Russian bombing during WWII. Finland had allied itself with Germany as a means of defending itself from the Russian invasion of Finland in 1939. Complicated history.
There were three bombing raids against Helsinki. The Finns counted 2,121 Russian bombers during these three raids, dropping some 16,000 bombs on the city. As the result of some clever deceit, the Finns deceived the bombers as to the location of the city lights and only about 350 bombs fell in the city. With raids of that size, it seems they would have completely destroyed the city and the Russians believed they had done so.
The history of Finland in WWII is outlined in this article.
Across from the Bank of Finland is an elaborately decorated Neo-Renaissance building called “House of the Estates”, used for government meetings.
From the Cathedral we walked down towards the harbour. There are a number of sailing ships anchored here, with one carrying the Australian flag! Hard to imagine sailing from Australia to Helsinki, a route of over 14,859 nautical miles and more than 62 days at sea. Wonder how long they’ll be here and where next? Maybe they’ll need one of those icebreakers 😉
There were other sailing ships anchored there, including a Finnish gun boat 😉
Across from us are some Finnish icebreakers waiting for their return to duty.
The icebreaker in the front is named Polaris and was delivered in 2016. While in the past, icebreakers only saw duty for 3 to 5 months a year escorting commercial vessels, their role is being expanded in an attempt to increase utilization and lower costs.
Finland has a fleet of eight icebreakers, which primarily operate in the Baltic Sea.