140619 Helsinki

The Plan

Shaped by its bays and offshore islands, Helsinki is one of Europe’s most scenic capitals.  You might wish to stroll among stylish shops and open-air restaurants on Esplanade Street and Senate Square, or explore the Rock Church, built entirely of stone. FB,L,D

Some Information

About 580,000 people live in Helsinki, and almost as many more in the little satellite towns that make up the Greater Helsinki area. However, there is the impression that Helsinki is a small seaport. The Scandinavian region has a history of mixed ‘ownership’, and Helsinki has had its far share of foreign occupancy. Helsinki was a Swedish outpost until the early 19th century, when it became the capital of the Russian Grand Duchy of Finland.

Finns love nature and treat their environment with a care verging on reverence. For a big city in an industrialised nation, Helsinki boasts a remarkable lot of greenery and space, with canoeing and sailing close at hand. Parklands abound in Helsinki giving city planners to develop a richness of space and a relaxed way of life. During winter, the waterways around Helsinki are frozen enabling skaters and rally drivers polish their skills on frozen lakes and cross-country skiers turn out en masse.

The weather is changeable and frequently alternates between sun and rain – similar to Melbourne. Spring and autumn are very short seasons, while winter is the longest. The average temperature is 22 degrees in June and -10 degrees in January. The currency is the Euro. Coffee is so popular that it could claim to be the national drink. I think it ranks number one or two in terms of litres per person per year in the world.

How the Day Turned Out

Our arrival into Helsinki is around 7:00am local time so we get to many low rocky outcrops that make up the many islands around the town. One has a ‘beach’ with beach huts along the shore, probably only used in the summer period. After breakfast, we join a hop-on hop-off bus tour around the city, which lasts for around 50 minutes. We get off the bus in the city centre and make a ‘split’; the ladies taking a canal cruise and I have some time to do some filming and also find a Wi-Fi to publish a few posts as we had no access in Russia.

The city is well organised and the traffic is kept to a 30kph in the centre. Lots of cafes line the streets, and there are many shopping malls. One main store, Stockmans, has a tagline, “if you can’t find it in Stockmans, you don’t need it.”

There is a flea market near the busy ferry region with lots of bargains in the artefact, touristy stuff and many fast food, outdoor, eating places within the market. Instead of making a church out of rock, there is a church carved out of a rock. A piano recital is happening there. Of course, Finlandia is one of the pieces being played.

Fortunately, the rain holds off until we are ready to board Eurodam for the next town we visit tomorrow, Stockholm in Sweden – home of ABBA.

Author: @colinspain

The Official Blogger for Grey Nomads Travel and Cruise Group Tours

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