A day in Finland
Trip Start Apr 08, 2007
129Trip End Oct 01, 2007
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I'm glad I did it too. Helsinki's a strikingly attractive city, gracefully strung along a beautiful seafront dotted with flat, green islands. While there aren't exactly a lot of must-sees - or even real "sights" for that matter - it's a lovely place to spend a day in and get to know. The infamous costs hit me quick though. One visit to a makeshift, tent-cafe out by the market ended up dinging me for €6.50, and all I got were two little pastries and a soda! Needless to say, I passed on making a visit to a proper restaurant for lunch (you're looking at €20-30 a meal, at least).
Contrary to expectations, I had yet another ideal day weather-wise. I don't know where that newspaper in Riga got its forecasts, but I can happily say they were dead wrong across the board. Apart from the cloudy afternoon on day one in Tallinn, I've been really lucky here. Temperatures remain relatively low (well, certainly compared to what I'm used to in Japan and Oklahoma during early September!), but a high of 18 isn't exactly frigid. I do hope that temperatures remain in the same range for the rest of the trip though - I certainly am not well-prepared for an early Siberian winter.
Anyhow, I hit as many of the real "sights" of Helsinki as I could today. As usual, I skipped the museum options . . . what's the point of wasting the day inside looking at exhibits when it's as nice as it is out? Instead, I went to the big sight of the city: its huge, classical Lutheran Cathedral, along with the nearby, equally imposing Orthodox Uspensky Cathedral. The minor pleasures were wandering amidst Helsinki's attractive architectural mix of fine classical, Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Modernist facades. One particular standout is the Art Deco rail station - a pleasure both inside and out, despite barely receiving even a mention in tourist guides. The grand finale was a hike out to the amazing Sibelius Monument, an outstanding metal sculpture of combined tubes and cracked, veined cylinders.
A good introduction to Finland, I imagine, and hopefully I can follow it up sometime down the line with a proper visit to the greater country itself. For now though, it's back to Tallinn to pack and hop on a bus to St. Petersburg. The enigma of Russia awaits.