Helsinki, Suomi.........Natural and Cultural

Helsinki Travel Blog

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National Romantic Elements of the train station

We left on an EARLY morning ferry from Tallinn to go to Helsinki.  The capital of Finland, it was founded in 1550 by King Gustav Vasa of Sweden-Finland.  The original city was not well situated at the mouth of the Vantaa and was later moved to the southwest where it stands today.

Our first couple of hours were spent trying to sort out our train tickets to Russia.  They should have been waiting at the hotel, but guess what?  We made the calls and dealt with the company and then had to go buy new tickets.

Senate Square on a sunny day
  Luckily the train station was very close and also a beautiful landmark in the city.  It was built from 1905 to 1919 in the national romanticism and functionalism styles.  A very nice young lady assisted us with the tickets and we save a good bit of money.

From there we headed out to walk the city.  We started in front of the Tuomiokirkko (Helsinki Cathedral).  The flight of stairs up to the cathedral is very steep and rough.  It is sparkling white in the sun.  The interior is very stark and plain except for the gilded alter piece and organ.  The square in front of it is a statue of Tsar Alexander of Russia.  Russia held held for over 90 years as a self governing territory.

Veggies for sale at the central market square
  When Nicholas II came to power he changed the rules. The Finns didn’t care for this at all and civil war broke out.

After the cathedral we moved on to Market Square.  It is a great open air market down on the docks.  We saw some of the most amazing fresh fruit, vegetables, and especially berries there.  In addition to the normal souvenirs we saw reindeer pelts.  We actually bought pendants for necklaces made of their horn with spectralite inlaid. After exploring more we found a wonderful artist named Viivi Kemppainen and bought two original watercolors paintings.    

We dodged some rain and then headed to the Uspenskin Katedraall (Uspensky Cathedral).  From the outside the brick exterior is very deceptive.  Even though it is in classic Orthodox style, it is very unexpected inside.  The detailed ornamentation and icons were incredible.

Religious figure between the arches

Back out in the rain we took a quick walk down Aleksanterinaktu (better known as Aleksi) to the statue of the The Three Smiths.   This is a bronze statue of three naked men working on an anvil.  It seemed way to dangerous for us.  Then to once again retreat from the rain we headed to the Ateneum, Finland’s National Gallery of Art.  Their collection of Finish art is impressive.  For dinner, Rob was able to try reindeer.  It was very good.

The next morning we headed out early to get in the rest of the souvenir shopping done and see some more of the city.  After a nice lunch we went for a nature hike in Nuuksio .  It is about 40 km northeast of Helsinki.  Nuuksio is a nature preserve established in 1994.

Lilypads on Lake Nuuksio Nuuksio National Park Near Espoo, Suomi
  Even though Finland is covered in woods, an old forest is rare because of the heavy logging industry.

Our guide was very amusing.  She was disappointed to learn there was no bathroom on the bus as she had to rush from her last tour.  Being a true Finnish woman she simply headed to the woods when we got to our destination.  The walk was so beautiful.  We saw wild berries and flowers.  Some of our fellow walkers ate the berries, but we were a little wary.  The lake we came to was fantastic.  We learned that swans are not a popular bird in Finland, because they take people to death in Finnish folklore.  At the end of the walk we went to a traditional lodge and had tea and Finnish coffee cake.

Once we got back to the city we grabbed dinner at a fine restaurant with a new Catalan menu.  Brian had Sangria sorbet for dessert.  Then we headed out on a two hour boat tour.  One of the best sites was Suomenlinna.  It was built in 1748 as a Naval defense and still houses Finland’s Naval Militery Academy.  In addition to being a UNESCO world heritage site, it has a thriving local arts community which uses restored bastions as studios and showrooms.  The boat was full of drunk Russians on a company dinner cruise.  The trip was enjoyable, even when it started to rain, but not until close the end.

Once we got back we called it a night since we had another early morning start to catch the train to St. Petersburg, Russia.

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National Romantic Elements of the …
National Romantic Elements of the…
Senate Square on a sunny day
Senate Square on a sunny day
Veggies for sale at the central ma…
Veggies for sale at the central m…
Religious figure between the arches
Religious figure between the arches
Lilypads on Lake Nuuksio

Nuuksi…
Lilypads on Lake Nuuksio Nuuks…
ROb on the ferry from Estonia to F…
ROb on the ferry from Estonia to …
Brian braving the wind and rain ap…
Brian braving the wind and rain a…
One of the vacation islands in the…
One of the vacation islands in th…
The approach to Helsinki
The approach to Helsinki
West Port of Helsinki
West Port of Helsinki
Finish National Theatre
Finish National Theatre
Close up of roofs
Close up of roofs
Decorative elemant on neoclassic b…
Decorative elemant on neoclassic …
Dome of empire style cathedral
Dome of empire style cathedral
Senate Square
Built in 1822 after…
Senate Square Built in 1822 afte…
Rob at Senate Square
Rob at Senate Square
Under the dome
Under the dome
Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral 
Buil…
Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral Bui…
View of the East Harbor from Kataj…
View of the East Harbor from Kata…
View of the dome
View of the dome
Beautiful Russian Orthodox religio…
Beautiful Russian Orthodox religi…
arch close-up
arch close-up
ceiling detail
ceiling detail
close-up of religious icon
close-up of religious icon
Old telephone booth
Old telephone booth
Esplinad Parc
Esplinad Parc
Flowers of Esplinad Parc
Flowers of Esplinad Parc
Turn of the century (20th) cafe in…
Turn of the century (20th) cafe i…
Central Market Square at the harbor
Central Market Square at the harbor
Empire style architecture
Empire style architecture
The three smiths statue
The three smiths statue
Chantrelles at the central market …
Chantrelles at the central market…
Whats up doc?
What's up doc?
Helsinki city streets......hard on…
Helsinki city streets......hard o…
Esplinad Parc
Esplinad Parc
Wild mushroom and lingonberry

N…
Wild mushroom and lingonberry …
Forest of Christmas trees

Nuuks…
Forest of Christmas trees Nuuk…
Wild lingonberries

Nuuksio Nati…
Wild lingonberries Nuuksio Nat…
Wild strawberry

Nuuksio Nationa…
Wild strawberry Nuuksio Nation…
Moss covered forest floor

Nuuks…
Moss covered forest floor Nuuk…
Nuuskio Lake

Nuuksio National P…
Nuuskio Lake Nuuksio National …
Rob at Nuuksio Lake
Rob at Nuuksio Lake
Hiking through the Finish Uplands
…
Hiking through the Finish Uplands…
Moss covered hills

Nuuksio Nati…
Moss covered hills Nuuksio Nat…
Brian and Rob an Nuuksio Lake

N…
Brian and Rob an Nuuksio Lake …
Boat on Lake Nuuksio
Boat on Lake Nuuksio
Rustic door at Lake Nuuskio
Rustic door at Lake Nuuskio
Pansy by the Lake
Pansy by the Lake
Sunset on the Gulf of Finland
Sunset on the Gulf of Finland
Sunset on the Gulf of Finland
Sunset on the Gulf of Finland
Suomenlinna Fortress Island
Built…
Suomenlinna Fortress Island Buil…
Suomenlinna
Suomenlinna
Sailing around the Gulf of Finland
Sailing around the Gulf of Finland
The approach to Helsinki
The approach to Helsinki
Ice cutters waiting for winter
Ice cutters waiting for winter
Helsinki Hotels & Accommodations review
Fantastic location in Helsinki in the Radisson which is always fantastic!
Hotels in Finland / Scandinavia are EXPENSIVE!!! But this choice is a value given that. It is on the lower end of that scale but offers a fantastic lo… read entire review
Helsinki
photo by: portia