The Travelling Trooper Explores Helsinki…Again

Thanks to Tomas and Cecile, we had a nice plan laid out for day 2 of Helsinki.

First stop: Big pretty red church. Actual name: Uspenki Cathedral. It belongs to the Finnish Orthodox Church, though it was originally built for Helsinki’s Russian Orthodox Church.

Next up: Suomelinaa. It’s an island that used to be a sea fortress. Sweden felt its backside was exposed to the Russians following the Russo-Sweden War from 1741-1743, so they began construction of the fortress in 1747.

We grabbed a brochure that looked to be quite informative, but to be honest, we chucked it quickly after I got to the island, and we decided we were just going to enjoy all of the pretty things. We’ve had our fill of war history over the past seven weeks.

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I wonder what he’s thinking about…

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Stop #3: Pretty rock church. (Real name: Temppeliaukio Church) See? All the pretty things.

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Plans for the church started as early as the 1930s, but that pesky World War II got in the way. Design competitions resumed after the war, and the design of the Suomalainen brothers was chosen in 1961. The church was finally built in 1969. The acoustics apparently make it great for concerts!

We kind of wandered around and took detours on my way to the pretty rock church in order to take in and savour as much of Helsinki’s beauty as we could–such as Esplanade Park!

This is Eino Leino. He is Finland’s literary champion. His poems are memorized and recited by any and all self-respecting Finn. He’s also known for having translated many classic pieces of literature into Finnish.  His birthday on July 6th is celebrated as a holiday of summer and poetry.

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This statue is dedicated to yet another writer: Zacharias Topelius. he was known as a great storyteller. His fairytales mesmerized generations of Swedish and Finnish children.

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Other random finds:

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I resisted temptation and didn’t buy anything at the very touristy market. Doris would be proud!

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We stopped in a cute little Christmas shop.
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The Three Blacksmiths by Felix Nylund. There is an old Finnish fairytale in which a witch has a beautiful daughter and promises to marry her off to anybody who can forge happiness. There were three blacksmiths who were able to make everything from weapons and jewelry to the moon and stars themselves. However thanks to some terrible storytelling, the legend apparently never tells whether or not any of the blacksmiths were able to forge happiness. Talk about a cliffhanger!

By this time, it was around 5 pm and we’d already been walking for a solid seven hours. Our last stop was another island. This one was called Seurasaari. Apparently if you go during a nice sunny day, you can easily get squirrels to eat right out of your hand. You might even spot a fox or two. Unfortunately, the evening was creeping in on us, and it started to rain lightly, so the best we got was a swarm of ducks and geese eating out of this random lady’s hand. It was cool to finally meet civilized geese for a change. The ones back home are evil incarnate.

Had we had more time, we probably would’ve liked to check out the nude pool in the city or the art museum. Or perhaps we could’ve spent some time at the beach on the island. Alas, the day was coming to an end, and we had to get back.

Tonight’s game was Saboteur. You’re a gnome or an elf or something, and you like to mine for gold. The aim of the game is to use your cards to dig a tunnel to one of three cards and hope that it’s the one with the gold. However, if you draw the saboteur card, your goal is to try and block tunnels or sabotage another elf’s equipment so that they can’t get to the gold before the cards run out. There’s another elf that cares only for diamonds rather than gold, so their points at the end of the round are based on how many diamond cards were placed. There are other roles, but that’s the gist of it.

Yet another fun night spent drinking wine and playing games in the company of wonderful people.  Dammit, I hate goodbyes.

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