Saturday, June 28, 2008

Scandinavia 2008 - Helsinki, Finland

(+60° 8' 59.18", +24° 55' 16.47")
They offered a shuttle into and out of town for $6. I looked it up on the map and saw it was 2 miles into town. We laughed and headed out on our bikes. Our first stop was the local flea market (eg. swap meet, car boot sale). It was Saturday so there were plenty of booths and people. L.’s brother had asked for us to buy him some Finland metal music so I gravitated to looking through the CD’s. (I was surprised how many people in metal and black we saw there in Helsinki.) I knew most of the CD’s that I was looking through but was sad to see that so many Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and Destiny’s child CD’s had made it out of the US. It was very interesting looking through old stuff from other cultures and I enjoyed doing it for the rest of the trip. I ended up getting 3 CD's for my brother in law and a Dire Straits one for myself (€4 each~ $6).
From there we followed a bike path along the water to the Sibelius statue. It is made up of hundreds of stainless steel pipes for a Helsinki composer. It was very interesting but we also came here for another reason. We knew the folk museum was in the area of it was off the edge of the map. We asked one of the bus tour guides and were off.
On our way to the folk museum we took a wrong turn and ended up at a beautiful house with a high fence and security cameras. I realized it was the Prime Ministers house since that was still labeled on the edge of the map. The folk museum is actually its own island. Houses from all over the country were brought and reconstructed here. Finland has a lot of different architecture styles since it goes above the arctic circle, borders Russia, has a lot of islands, and some even looked like they belonged in “It’s a small world”. It was also interesting to me what here would be the Indian or native american museum, there is the folk museum since it has always been the same people.
From there we rode into town stopping at the parliament building since it was on the way. Like most there were large imposing steps with small side doors that were the real front doors since no one likes to use all the steps. We also visited the Stone Church (Temppeliaukio Kirkko). Both of us had studied it in our art history classes but it was only open alternating hours so we shopped and climbed the outside looking for elusive baby pigeons (something I want to see before I die, but it was no avail.)
We continued our ride into town and ate lunch at a local restaurant called “Tractor”. Imagine a country themed steak house only playing traditional Finnish music instead of country music. We enjoyed reindeer stew and blood orange lemonade.
From there we crossed town to the open air market where L. did her souvenir shopping. Since we had some extra time we also saw the covered market with the food and chocolate stalls. The Uspenski Cathedral was beautiful but there was a wedding going on so we could not see the inside. Instead we went to City Hall and saw the Helsinki history museum (It was free).
When we left the port we sailed for hours passing many small islands that were no more than sand bars with navigation domes (just like buoys but not floating). The ocean bottom seemed shallow and I’m glad there were experts steering the boat.

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