Here are a few pictures of our morning in Helsinki, Finland. In spite of all that travel drama, we had to look at one another and say, "What are the chances that we'll ever get a day in Finland again any time soon?" So, off we went!
We took the train into the city early that morning and started out in Senate Square. Behind the square is the famed Helsinki Cathedral. Just a few blocks away, is Market Square where you can catch a city water bus out to Suomenlinna Sea Fortress. From the boat, you get a great view of the Helsinki Skywheel and the Allas Sea Pool...where you can undoubtedly get a few minutes in a sauna if you wish. Our (limited) impression of Finnish people is that they love the forest, they drink blueberry juice and eat berries from those forests, swim in the 188,000 lakes in those forests, and that they really get into their saunas. One lady told us that even apartments have their own saunas...it's essential to Finnish living. We found it to be a beautiful and fascinating place.
Helsinki was pretty modern, and very interesting, but the charm of Finland seems to lie in the land itself. If we ever go on a (planned:) trip there, we'd definitely want to go into the countryside more. Forests and blueberry juice? What could be better!?
Suomenlinna Sea Fortress is a twenty minute boat ride from Market Square. Originally founded in 1748, it was used as a military base by Sweden, Russia and Finland at different points in the country's history. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. As is usually the case with UNESCO, there's a good reason for the preservation. It's a fascinating island, and absolutely breathtaking. We could have spent days exploring the museums and coast line!
We headed back to the airport, through the city. I regret to inform you that we did stop at McDonald's on the way back. (Though David and I grabbed sandwiches from a deli.) We'll have to save culinary exploration for another day. Somehow, the kids just weren't up for sitting down to a big Finnish meal:)
Farewell, Finland! You were such a beautiful surprise!