Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Monday, July 30, 2018 – Helsinki, Finland – Partly Cloudy – 80F

Helsinki is the capital of Finland and located on a peninsula jutting out into the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea. Helsinki is home to 600,000 people with the country having a population of about 2 million. The city was founded by Swedish King, Gustavus Vasa (of bogus warship fame). The country has been part of Sweden and Russia over the years but in 1917, Russia was unable to deal with both Finland and the Revolution so Finland became an independent country.

Clocks moved forward early this morning.

The weather continues to be fantastic.

We have an early tour today so we ordered room service for breakfast.

On tour today (one escort): “Porvoo, River Cruise, and Lunch”. Porvoo has some historical significance for us since we visited this village on our first real cruise back in June 2001. On that trip, we visited a soldier cemetery and had lunch in a cave of some sort.

We boarded our very comfortable bus and after a short tour of the city (which included the flea market and the Palace, where the Trump Putin meetings were held), we headed for the countryside. We were told by our guide that drivers in Finland are very vary of the separation of cars on the road, especially the expressways. In other words, they do not tailgate like they do in the US. I didn’t believe it at first but saw this behavior in action as we made our way to Porvoo.

In Porvoo, we were given a little free time to shop and grab some refreshments. We decided to try Café Fanny in the old town and near the river. The café was small and cute and run by two girls who spoke perfect English. I ordered a mocha coffee (4 Euros), which I turned into two glasses of iced coffee. We sat outside and had our coffee, while watching the tourists walk by.

IMG_20180730_ET Porvoo River

Ellen and the Porvoo River

IMG_20180730_old Porvoo

The River and Old Porvoo

We were told that the town had a very nice chocolate factory that encourage tasting of their goodies.  We found the store and tasted just about every chocolate item in the store – the staff didn’t seem to mind the fact that a busload of tourists was depleting their sample stock.  Oh, and yes the chocolate was delicious.

We got back on the bus and drove a short distance to the boat launch and our river boat. I took a seat on the forward deck and Ellen got a nice seat on deck in the shade. Our captain, a veteran of the river cruise, was our narrator.

Our cruise down the Porvoo (pronounced “Porovoo” by the captain) River

IMG_20180730_old Porvoo River boatIMG_20180730_Porvoo River Cruise 1

IMG_20180730_Porvoo River Cruise 2IMG_20180730_starting Porvoo River CruiseIMG_20180730_Porvoo River Cruise ETIMG_20180730_Porvoo River CruiseIMG_20180730_reeds encroaching river

River Cruise

took us past other boats, small homes, and lots of trees and reeds. In fact, the reeds are encroaching the river and will, one day, block navigation of the river. The cruise took about 30-40 minutes and we pulled alongside the pier at our destination, the Hakko Mansion.

IMG_20180730_Hakko Manor

IMG_20180730_et disembarking Porvoo river boat

Ellen Disembarking River Boat

From the pier, we walked a few hundred yards, much of it up a pretty steep hill, to get to the Mansion. The grounds and mansion were very impressive. The mansion was located next to what looked to be some kind of military installation – satellite dishes and radar equipment. Mysterious.

Lunch was in the “Romanov Room”.

IMG_20180730_Lunch Venue Hakko Manor

Romanov Room

In the Hakko Mansion – there is a full service – and pricey – restaurant in the building. This particular room is decorated with all types of Romanov stuff – maybe an homage to the type when Finland was part of the Russian Empire. We pre-ordered the vegetarian option, which wound up being a green salad (with a very sweet dressing) and a bunch of veggies, two “empanadas”, and some type of cake. It wasn’t very good but it was food.

Before we returned to the ship, we went on a tour of Helsinki. We came across some very interesting sites including a most unique fountain.

IMG_20180730_Helsinki pee boy

Peeing Boy Fountain

IMG_20180730_Helsinki statue

IMG_20180730_Art Museum

Helsinki Art Museum

We saw the icebreakers in the port and stopped for a few minutes at Senate Square to take pictures of the Tsar and Church.

IMG_20180730_Tsar Alexander II Senate Square

IMG_20180730_Senate Square

Senate Square

From there, we took the bus to the Rock Church. We walked about three or four blocks to the Church and were able to spend a few minutes inside the impressive structure. Nobody checked our entrance stickers which was a good thing since they had fallen off during our walk there.

IMG_20180730_Rock Church exterior

IMG_20180730_Rock Church 1IMG_20180730_Rock Church

The Rock Church

From there, our tour ended at the pier.

IMG_20180730_Docked Helsinki

Constellation Docked in Helsinki

Since we had eaten pretty late, we had dinner up in the Oceanview Café.

Tonight’s Entertainer was Ex West Ender, Nick Page. We stayed for a couple of songs but decided to opt for a quieter venue, namely the couches on Deck 14 Aft.  A good spot to catch today’s Magic Moment.

IMG_20180730_at SeaIMG_20180730_sunset and contrail

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