Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 – Helsinki, Finland – Partly Cloudy – 75F

Stockholm to Helsinki: 192 Nautical Miles

Local Information:  The population of Finland is 5.4 million people with 590,000 people living in Helsinki . Helsinki has bilingual street signs – Finish and Swedish (92 vs 6 percent). Unlike some of the other Scandinavian countries, Finland has no monarchy and is a member of the Eurozone.

After breakfast in the Ocean View Café, we get set for a day of touring.

I am on the  “Helsinki by Road and Rail” tour guided by Tuula (“Flower” in Finnish).  As we leave the South Pier (where the big ships dock), I catch a glimpse of the Constellation.

20130724_Constellation docked South pier (Small)

Celebrity Constellation (South Pier)

The first stop was the Jean Sibelius Monument found in the park also named for the famed Finnish Composer.

20130724_Sibelius Park (Small)

Sibelius Park

20130724_Jean Sibelius Park (Small)

Sibelius Monument in the Distance

The Monument – Passeo Musicae – was created in 1967 by artist, Eila Hultinen.

   20130724_Passeo Musicae 1967 Eila Hiltunen (Small) 20130724_under the Monument (Small) 20130724_under the Sibelius Monument (Small) 

The monument consists of 600 hollow steel cylinders – the wave like undulations are supposed to represent the music of Sibelius.

The monument proved too abstract and confusing for people – especially the connection to Sibelius – so a bust of the composer was added afterwards.

20130724_Jean Sibelius bust (Small)20130724_Sibelius from side (Small)

Jean Sibelius Bust

Our next stop was the Olympic Stadium.  The stadium was built for the 1940 Olympic Games, which were cancelled due to WWII.  The stadium was eventually the site of the 1952 Olympic Games.  It is the largest stadium in Finland.

In front of the stadium is a statue of Paavo Nurmi – “The Flying Finn” – who took Gold Medals in the 1920, 1924, and 1928 Olympic Games.  In this representation, Paavo is so fast, he has run out of both his shorts and undershorts.  Now that is fast…

  20130724_Paavo and Olympic Stadium (Small)

The Flying Finn – Paavo Nurmi

The tour now transitioned from bus to tram.  We had our own private tram, that would be used to continue our tour of Helsinki.  The tram was a little late so I had a chance to snap some pictures of the tram stop area. 

Subway must be really popular – the advertisement tower below is one of several I spotted throughout Helsinki.

20130724_subway ads everywhere (Small)

Across the street from the Tram Stop was a Casino and other impressive buildings.

20130724_buildings across from tram stop (Small)

Our tram arrived a few minutes later and we boarded – the tram was there just for us so we had a chance to really spread out.  It was a noisy ride but an interesting way to see the city.

20130724_our tram (Small)

Our Own Tram

20130724_Tram 1 (Small)

Plenty of Room in the Tram

20130724_Parliament (Small)

The Parliament Building

20130724_Shopping District (Small)

The Shopping District

20130724_McD main shopping area (Small)

A Familiar Site

One thing we didn’t expect to see were bungee jumpers.  These people paid a considerable amount of Euros to jump off a a crane.

20130724_Bungee jumper (Small)  20130724_Bungee 1 (Small)

Bungee Jumpers     

The Uspenski Cathedral (below) is an Eastern Orthodox Cathedral completed in 1868.

20130724_Uspensky Orthodox Cathedral (Small)

The ports of Finland freeze over during the Winter preventing the shipping of goods to the country.  To deal with that situation, the country has 9 Icebreakers that keep most of the ports open during the cold months of the year.  Some of them are based in Helsinki and as we went by the harbor, I caught a glimpse of these important ships.

20130724_Ice Breakers (Small)

The Icebreakers of Finland

Our final stop is Senate Square – the highlight of downtown Helsinki.  Senate Square is dominated by the Tuomiokirkko (Lutheran Cathedral) at the top of a healthy set of stairs.

20130724_Senate Square 1 (Small) 

Lutheran Cathedral 

The Square is also the site of the Statue of Tsar Alexander II, assassinated in 1881 – the statue was erected in 1894 as gratitude by the people of Finland (Finland was a Grand Duchy of Russia at the time).

  20130724_Senate Square (Small)20130724_Tsar Alexander II (Small)

Tsar Alexander II – Senate Square

We had some free time at Senate Square so I headed for the City Hall Building with its washrooms and free WiFi.  The lobby of the building is still amazing with its sculpture of a hand as the focal point.  I did sign in to the WiFi and checked in.

20130724_Helsinki City Hall (Small)

City Hall Lobby – Helsinki

From Senate Square, the bus headed back to the South Pier.

We had dinner in the San Marco Dining Room – tonight I asked our waiter, Custodio, to see if he could get me some Spaghetti Marinara.  The chef did whip up something that looked a bit odd but tasted really good.

Showtime - “Celebrate the World” – is the second production show.  We have seen it a few times but it is highly entertaining and each ship puts their own touch on the production.

20130724_Dont Cry for me Argentina (Small)

“Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina”

Another number I really like is the Irish Step Dance.  This version was a bit different in that one of the lead vocalists joined the dance group.  The steps are difficult and she was really good.  That’s multitalented in my opinion.

20130724_Riverdance (Small) 20130724_Step dance 1 (Small) 

Irish Step Dance

20130724_Finale (Small)

The Finale – Bravo

Tomorrow we are in St. Petersburg and we both have tours so we need to get some rest.  We are also moving our clocks forward tonight.

Pedometer: 4480 steps; 2.12 miles; 247 calories; 00:45

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