Days 157-160 21st-24th July
A gentle city to arrive in after our wilderness experiences. And for today a rare treat – a taxi to our apartment in old town.
We found a simple large and comfortable apartment with all we needed including the every sought after washing machine. So sought after here we had to book in a time which we did immediately.
A rule to follow: When one is an older traveller one should go to bed at a reasonable hour. This was not the advice we followed on our first night in Helsinki. After dinner in a cafe on the waterfront – with a friendly waitress keen to visit Australia for the wild life we went searching for a night cap. Our wandering brought us to a waterfront Karaoke bar. Oh Yes. Just what we need to re-acclimatise ourselves I thought. From Olivia Newton John to Finnish heavy metal we had hours and hours of fun. Lots of chat and support to singers later – we emerged from Wallis in the early hours of the morning to happily find our way home.
In contrast the next day we have another musical experience – a beautiful lunchtime tribute to Sibelius. Not sure what to expect – maybe expecting a bit of a tourist trap. We were treated to a beautiful hour of music linked with stories by a very capable humorous storyteller (director and musician). The music was provided by two wonderful musicians on the piano and violin. More than one tear was shed.
Afterwards in a fit of sight-seeing overachieving we found our way to the ferry to the UNESCO World Heritage site Suomenlinna fortress as a unique monument of military architecture.
After the short ferry to the island we joined up with a tour which was a great option in the short time we had. Providing an overview and history of this island which most of the surrounding countries have at some time quarantined as their own including Sweden and Russia.
Now the island has apartment living, a function centre, numerous museums, restaurants etc etc. It is worthy of more time however the Karaoke night caught up with us as did the thunderous black sky so after the tour, coffee and a cinnamon bun, and a wander around we headed back to Helsinki.
We were looking forward to our next day after an extraordinary moment discovering our friends Kerri and Dennis would be in Helsinki for a day. We met in the main square where we purchased Hop-On-Hop-Off bus tickets. A new experience for us and it had its merits. A commentary on the way, get on and off when you want to and endless circuits within 24hours.
Not sure with all our chatter and fun we managed to hear the commentary but we did see the Rock Church – a stunning combination of natural formation, architecture and design.
After the Rock Church we visited the once controversial Sibelius monument. A beautiful structure that I thought was musical notes but apparently others thought represented organ notes – hence the controversy as Sibelius composed very little for Organ. Ignoring all that – it was a beautiful piece …
Once we had soaked up all the bus provided audio information we completed our final HOHO for lunch followed by coffee back at the main square where it all began. Astounded as a tractor drove through the main street of the square heading who knows where.
The next morning with a few hours on our ticket we used the last of our Hop On Hop Off to get to Flea market and Hietalahti Market Hall. The Flea market was torture with copious amounts of Marimekko and no room in the back-pack. After browsing we wandered through the beautiful food hall and chose “Fat Ramen” for lunch in the Hietalahti Market Hall.
After a satisfying albeit Japanese style lunch we wended our way back to our apartment via a Film set, an outdoor shop (always a crowd favourite with us) and a design store for the well known Finnish Alvar Aalto where the most beautiful Kuksa (wooden cups) sat tempting me on the display shelf.
Photos from Our Time in Helsinki