Home Up

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Friday, 17 August:  We arrived in Helsinki at 8:35AM after enjoying a nine hour flight during which we were able to catch a three hour nap.  After proceeding through immigration & customs, we took a FinnAir bus from the airport which took us near the Central Rail Station and almost directly in front of our hotel, the very new and beautiful Holiday Inn.  Since it was still early (only 9:30AM), a room wasn’t ready but we were able to store our luggage so we could begin our touring.  At 10:00AM, Jukka, an individual we traveled with in Mongolia last year, met us at the Holiday Inn.  After exchanging hugs and hellos, we were off to begin our explorations with Jukka as our guide.

Jukka had kindly booked advance tickets to see a special exhibit of works of Helene Schjerfbeck at the Ateneum Art Museum.  Since our hotel was centrally located, it was a quick walk over to the Ateneum.  We spent about three hours exploring the works of Ms. Schjerfbeck.  It was the 150th anniversary of her birth and she is considered to be one of the most important and recognized artists in the Nordic region. Many pieces of the exhibition were on loan from other museums as well as private collectors so amassing them in one location was a great undertaking.

At the age of 11, Ms. Schjerbeck began studying at the Finnish Art Society and she continued producing works of art until her death in 1946 at the age of 83.  Probably some of the most interesting were the various self-portraits she painted.  The style and poses changed dramatically over the course of her life; therefore, the 40 or so of these works provide insights not only into her life but her artistic growth. 

Before we left the Ateneum, we visited the third floor to see a view of the works that remained in place and had not been put away to provide space for the special exhibit.  Many of these pieces were quite beautiful.  In particular, we enjoyed the “Wounded Angel” which was painted by Hugo Simberg.

After visiting the Museum, we enjoyed a nice lunch on the square.  We then walked back to the Holiday Inn to obtain our room and get our luggage out of storage.  By now, it was about 3:30PM and we were a bit tired (we managed to get three hours of sleep in transit but that was it).  So, we decided to walk to the Central Bus Station to take a bus into the suburbs to visit Jukka’s home.  Interestingly, the Central Bus Station is a great place to visit.  Basically, it’s an indoor mall that has tons of shopping and the buses arrive/depart underground so you don’t have to deal with the winter weather conditions in Helsinki. 

It was about a 30 minute bus ride to the stop nearest Jukka’s home.  From there it was only about a five minute walk.  His house is in a beautiful setting in a very quiet neighborhood.  We enjoyed spending an hour together during which Jukka gave us a tour of the house and we also enjoyed listening to music on his wonderful sound system.  In fact, the latter was so relaxing that with only three hours of sleep, we started falling asleep so it was time to get some rest.  We walked back to the bus stop and caught the return bus to the Central Bus Station.  As we walked back to the hotel, we noticed that it was increasingly crowded as it was a Friday night and lots of people were in town enjoying the beautiful weather, outdoor restaurants, etc.  For us, it was an early night after a very enjoyable and informative day.

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The Central Train Station
The Anteum
The National Theatre

Saturday, 18 August:  We enjoyed a leisurely and delicious breakfast buffet at our hotel.  After which Jukka came to the hotel to collect us for a day of city touring.  Initially, we strolled through town to reach Market Square where there were numerous vendors set up under open-air tents.  Many were small restaurants selling inexpensive lunches.  Also, there were some vendors selling fresh fish, smoked fish and/or produce.  The area was very crowded as it was late morning on a Saturday.  We next took a ferry to the Helsinki Zoo.  It was a quick ride on a beautiful, sunny day.  Once we arrived at the zoo, we visited numerous animal enclosures with both Ed and Jukka taking many photographs.  When we returned back to Helsinki City, we next visited and took photographs of Uspenski Cathedral, a beautiful Russian Orthodox Church.  We were all a bit tired so we took time for a late lunch at an Italian restaurant not too far away from Market Square.  Afterwards, we wandered back to the open air square near the train station.  There, we said our good-byes for the day as Jukka continued onward to the bus station and we returned to our hotel.  Again, another great day in Helsinki.

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The Havis Amanda Mermaid Sculpture
City Hall as we approach
Market Square
A fish monger selling
the catch from the back of the boat
One of the many restaurants
located in Market Square
A view of Helsinki from the ferry
A Woodland Caribou
(a/k/a a Reindeer)
These bears are enjoying a nap
A beautiful Snowy Owl
A Visentti
(a/k/a a Bison)
An amazing sand castle;
what talent & patience!
Uspenski Cathedral
Another view of this
beautiful Cathedral
The altar area
inside the Cathedral
A view of Market Square
from Upenski Cathedral

[ T O P ]

Sunday, 19 August:  As previously arranged, Jukka called us at 7:15AM for a “weather check” to make sure it would be a good day to do some touring outside the city.  And, luckily for all of us, it was.  So after breakfast, we took the bus which stops near Jukka’s home.  He met us at a parking spot nearby and then we were off.  Jukka took us on a brief drive to Nuuksio National Park.  It was amazing that such a beautiful park could exist so close to Helsinki!

We all were ready for some trekking in this great environment.  We walked along one of the many trails and enjoyed great views of the forest, the granite boulders and a beautiful small lake.  Along the way, we found and enjoyed eating some fresh blueberries.  Yum – the perfect accompaniment to a great walk.  We did have a few raindrops but nothing that wasn’t manageable.  In all we covered a bit over 4 km or about 2.5 miles.

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A view of the beautiful
scenery (taken by Jukka)
A view of the beautiful
lake below the trail
Ed "walking the plank"
A thriving lily pond
This duck is enjoying the pond
Lindy at a half-way point
in a long stair climb
(again, shot thanks to Jukka)
Now it's time for Ed
and Jukka to make the trek
Lindy and Yukka on an
outcrop overlooking the scenery
A beautifully colored mushroom
Lindy and Ed on the trail
A unique flower pot
(photo taken by Jukka)

[ T O P ]

In the early afternoon, we headed back into town.  On the way back to Jukka’s, we stopped at a local grocery and picked up some great Finnish cheeses and crackers as well as a traditional baked Finnish cheese to be served as dessert with a cloudberry jam.  Once at Jukka’s, it was time to enjoy these treats.  Jukka also had a great old bottle of Merlot which was a great pairing with the cheese and crackers.  We finished the afternoon while enjoying the baked cheese served hot with cloudberries.  Delicious!!

At about 6:30PM, it was time for us to return to the city center.  We thanked Jukka for being a great host and tour guide and then we walked to the bus station.  We were able to catch a bus immediately and we were back at the city bus terminal at 7:00PM.  We then walked back to the hotel with the crowds diminishing since tomorrow was once again a weekday and the weekend festivities were ending.  For us, it was a wonderful to have spent three days in Helsinki, especially enjoying our “private tour” a’la Jukka.   

[Next, continue to ESTONIA]