Trip Start May 26, 2010
15Trip End Jun 10, 2010
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Our sail from St. Petersburg to Helsinki, Finland was uneventful. Mercifully we regained an hour overnight, allowing us an extra hour of sleep.
Finland proved to be the perfect respite after the two whirlwind days in St. Petersburg. The cruise dock is located just outside Helsinki, and we boarded our tour bus promptly at 9:00 AM (0900).
We immediately headed to the countryside. It was sunny and cool, with a strong north wind. Our first stop was at a tiny church, built in the 1400’s. It’s the oldest remaining church in Finland, and it is still used for special events during the brief summer months. The countryside was beautiful, with green fields, forests and rolling hills. It looked astonishingly like southern Maine, despite being 20 degrees further north. It was a pleasant place to stop.
We then moved on to the small, historical town of Porvoo. This is a small town built on a hillside, next to a beautiful winding river. While the architecture looked European, the countryside again looked just like Maine. The historical part of the town is centered on an old church located on the top of the hill. Homes built over 300 years ago are situated down the hill. At the base of the hill, a modern city has been built. The old section of the town now includes private residences, small shops and restaurants. It is very well done. We walked around the town and savored the beautiful day. Annie bought some souvenirs while I mostly people watched
After visiting Porvoo, we headed to a manor house for lunch. In actuality the restaurant is in the basement of a large barn. We had to duck to be seated. Picnic tables had been setup under arching brick columns. The food was delicious; a tasty flavored beef was the main course. We had time after the meal to walk the beautiful grounds. Lilacs were at peak bloom, and the fields were filled with wild flowers. Very nice!
We boarded the bus and headed back into Helsinki. The area around the city is as pleasant as it gets. Our first stop in the city was at a monument for Finland’s greatest composer, Jean Sibelius. We had never heard of him, but he is a legend in Finland. The memorial was an interesting piece of modern art, looking like organ tubes to me
Our next stop was at Temppeliaukio Church, better known as the Church of the Rock. It is an active Lutheran Church built right into the ledge rock on a downtown hillside. It was built in 1969, and is a truly unique structure. It’s cut right into the rock, and is covered with a copper dome. It must be a very unique place to worship.
Our final stop in the city was at the most famous Helsinki landmark, Helsinki Cathedral. This magnificent church requires 46 steps to reach it from the front. It is located on Senate Square, and the domes can be seen for miles. Unfortunately we could not go inside, as there was a wedding in progress.
We then returned to the ship. The pace of the day was easy, as is the pace in Finland. Helsinki is clean, but unlike many European cities, it is not old. Fires destroyed most of the city during the 19th century, so it is a newer city.
Our sail out of Finland was through many beautiful rock islands. Once again, it reminded us of Maine.