Well, after yesterday’s fiasco for Di she woke feeling a little better and being able to inhale air without exhaling chunks of her lungs. She decided it a good idea to be a Tommy the tourist for the day so we set out at 8.00am for the Hop on Hop Off bus.
When we last came to Helsinki back in 1991 both of us were trying to remember what we could of our last last visit here and we both came up with the resounding opinion that it didn’t have much to offer. Guess what, 26 years later and things have not changed.
You do notice quite a change in the conditions of the buildings being a lot better maintained and it is also very clean and no graffiti compared to that of St Petersburg which is only 80 kilometres away. Finland had an interesting history when it comes to their part in WWII and we need to do some further investigation, but our understanding is that they were allied with Germany. There is a very deep and long history between Finland and Russia and in the main square they even had a significant statue of Tsar Alexander II. Not too sure what went on in that they swapped allegiances. Will get back to you all on that once we have internet connection again.
What we are finding that is really cool is that there is free WiFi at the cruise terminals and all the Hop on Hop Off busses also have it. Hence, the last few days blogs have been coming courtesy from the top deck of a bus, a cruise terminal or a train.
We were surprised to see their tram livery is gineau (German for exactly – this one is for you Wolfgang) like that of Melbourne trams.
We felt right at home.
There are no real Finnish people that stand out on the world stage except for Paavo Nurmi. He is better known as the “Flying Fin” who was middle and long distance runner and won nine gold medals. They have the odd poet and artisans but none of great note. We did come upon this interesting art piece in a park which made for a good shot.
And looking up from underneath.
As you can imagine, Helsinki has long humid winters with winds wiping off the Baltic Sea, so reckon these beauties would whistle a great tune.
Fras made friends with one of the locals – we called him Ollie the owl.
The Finnish language is most unusual. It is impossible to pronounce the words as they sound nothing like what they look like.
Fras had a good day making lots of new friends – this is Sally the Sea Lion.
The tulips are in full bloom here as we are that much further north again.
Another ABC. Once we get on our own self guided tours the ABC’s will disappear very quickly. Having said that we do have to include this one below as it is hewn from rock and has the best acoustics. They utilize the church well by using it for concerts and plays which is a very good use of what is normally 90% of dead space.
We really didn’t do much at all except wander around for a couple of hours and then back to the boat.
On our way back we went via a local market that was selling food and handcrafts. They had some small fish that they were calling whitebait which looked nothing like the New Zealand whitebait. Fraser got a couple of free samples so decided that Di should have a taste of one but Di was saved by the seagull that swooped in and got first dibs on it – thank you Mr Seagull from Di.
Here is a little bit of useless but entertaining info. There are several seaside pools that are open 365 days of the year. They have special teams who go out and keep the pools ice free so that Finns can continue to swim year round. Apparently, they have quite the substantial following.
One thing we have been remiss in mentioning is the entertainment that is provided on the cruise ship. Last night we went and saw two shows of which they were polar opposites but both equally entertaining. The first was Karl Loxley who is a tenor from the UK and was discovered on The Voice. We have never seen the programme but get the gist of it. We were told he didn’t win but Sir Tom Jones saw his potential and took over his coaching. He sung a number of the great classics and even though we are no talent scouts, we can tell he is going to go a long way. Another Pavarotti in the making.
The other show was downright strange. It was called Cirque Dreams and in the theme of Steam Punk. You will have to google that as we had never heard of it. The costumes were the best we had ever seen. It is like Cirque du Soel (excuse spelling) but more the guts of the circus with the bendy lady, acrobat, strong man, knife thrower etc. You get the idea. There was a lot of peripheral stuff also going on which made the performances more than they were but the skill was amazing. The sadistic girl who had knives thrown at her was probably uninsured and we were wondering what they did on a rough day at sea. Pete noticed she had a large scar on one side of her torso – ooopps!!! The bendy lady made Di want to crawl under the table – she was downright gross. All the same, it was a great exhibition.