Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Scandinavia Trip Day 10: Helsinki


After 15.5 hours of voyage across the Baltic Sea (with only 2 hours dedicated to sleep), we finally dock in Helsinki, the capital and largest city of Finland.

But first, the most important meal of the day.


The breakfast buffet spread at Serenade:

                                      Breads                                                                               Bacon


          Empanadas, meatballs, hotdogs                                             Baked rice and eggs


           Cold cuts, pates, smoked salmon                             Yogurt, fruits, cereals, berries


My breakfast plate 1


My breakfast plate 2


229710_10150173483444570_510889569_6601571_8069853_nOur tour guide literally had to drag us down the bus for this group photo


230188_10150167217382293_718632292_6935496_8072996_nAccording to him, the Finns are very simple people. They enjoy nature and every summer, the men wash carpets. Yes, scrubbing rug carpets with traditional pine soap is such an enjoyable activity for them that the town council built this carpet washing station equipped with water outlets, basins and tables for scrubbing. It is very relaxing and you can make new friends while you scrub your carpets side by side. Maybe I should give this a try.


Families hang out here


Children play in the park


227338_10150173483714570_510889569_6601576_1397259_nThat’s our tour guide. He likes to wash carpets.


227163_10150167217152293_718632292_6935493_2751368_nOur first stop, much to Auntie Babie’s delight, is Anne’s Souvenir Shop


There is supposed to be a church across from the shop but it is currently under construction. All I can see is a pile of rocks.


sibelius parkNext stop is the Sibelius Park


sibelius parkThe Sibelius Monument, a series of more than 600 hollow steel pipes welded together
in a wave-like pattern, is dedicated to the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. The designer
Eila Hiltunen wanted to capture the essence of Sibelius’ music through this work of art.


sibelius parkCreative shot by Vibson.
Careful, Vibson, that’s 24 tonnes of steel waiting to crush you!


227053_10150167219407293_718632292_6935535_4305575_nI just had to. Hehe.


222070_10150173483899570_510889569_6601578_2817765_nJean Sibelius


There is a lot of construction going on in the city


Love the design on this bus


Helsinki Central Railway Station


Finnish National Theatre


Big red brick building


222843_10150167216972293_718632292_6935488_3444918_nYellow building


Probably the most focal point in Helsinki is the Senate Square.
And because of this, our tour guide insists we take another group photo.


And I insist to have a photo taken with the Finnish boys Winking smile


To the west of the Senate Square is the main building of the University of Helsinki


To the north is the enormous and pristine Helsinki Cathedral


If Denmark has the Little Mermaid, Helsinki has Havis Amanda. Urban legend says 
this nude lady patronizes men’s sexual potency. If a man washes his face with the water from the fountain and shouts "Rakastaa!" (Finnish word for love) 3 times, his sexual
ability will magically increase. I know a lot of men who would die to do this.


Frances takes a photo with the piano accordionist


Uncle William takes the piano accordion and the accordionist takes a photo with him. Ha!


Finnish fashion


230328_10150173484509570_510889569_6601593_1354222_nUspenski Orthodox Church


230613_10150167225957293_718632292_6935652_444629_nLunch is at Aleksandria Restaurant inside this building


While the place is gorgeous, the food leaves much to be desired


                             Tasteless bread                                                         Salad with no dressing


              Mushy white fish in cream sauce                    Vanilla ice cream with strawberry syrup


227488_10150167226267293_718632292_6935657_7929763_nAuntie Babie, Uncle Frank and what is the picture of Santorini doing in the background?!?


Because Finland has two national languages, all signs must be in these 2 languages, too – Finnish and Swedish


Bilingual signs. What about Viking Line?


230773_10150167219882293_718632292_6935544_6941766_nHelsinki Olympic Stadium


Stockmann Department Store


“Please Help Me Identify This” Building


225743_10150167227742293_718632292_6935672_2353051_nWe have the rest of the afternoon free so we board this ferry that will take us to Suomenlinna


Ernest, Erwin, Frances, Me, Felisse


suomenlinnaThe UNESCO World Heritage Site is popular with both tourists and locals. It attracts about 700,000 visitors every year.


suomenlinnaSuomenlinna was built as a sea fortress during the Swedish era.
It was constructed on six islands which now form part of the city of Helsinki.


suomenlinnaNowadays it is a living community with 900 inhabitants and a popular
picnicking spot of the Finnish people


suomenlinna churchSuomenlinna Church


222138_10150167229677293_718632292_6935690_714985_nGreat picture spot. We spend quite some time in here taking some cool shots.


221858_10150167230857293_718632292_6935710_2696076_n 225628_10150167231832293_718632292_6935746_1930977_n
                            Felisse the geek                                                             Ernest the gigolo


229663_10150167231117293_718632292_6935718_4029876_n 222618_10150167231652293_718632292_6935739_5268635_n
                              Jin the fatso                                                         Vibson the photographer


226479_10150173485279570_510889569_6601611_5842351_n 231119_10150173485354570_510889569_6601613_1282296_n
                     Frances the crazy bird                                            Erwin the Kung Fu Panda


224396_10150173485434570_510889569_6601615_5083367_nOne of the cannons in the Bastion Zander




suomenlinnaIt is really beautiful out here. The photos do no justice.


No wonder Suomenlinna is a place for lovers


Brotherly love


225748_10150173485804570_510889569_6601622_2874692_nFatherly love


Sisterly love. Or actually, too much love for thyself.


223014_10150173485954570_510889569_6601626_1843523_nAnd the kind of love everyone wishes for


224604_10150173486149570_510889569_6601630_5475968_nVibson, Me, Felisse, Frances, Ernest, Florence


As for me, I go to the food store for some lovin’


225138_10150167236272293_718632292_6935878_6038505_nHot chocolate and cinnamon roll love


While Ernest seems to be deliriously in love with his bag of minipussi potato chips


I spot more lovers back on the ferry




Not one to be left out, I try to find myself a suitable partner.
Errr… No, thank you.


Errr… NEXT!


YES!!! to the Tom Cruise lookalike Winking smile


We go back to Aleksandria for dinner, and dinner turns out to be worse than lunch.


                                        Salad                                                                 Hard as rock pork chop


                Vanilla ice cream (what, no strawberry sauce this time?)              


We retire to bed early and with a heavy heart, finding it hard to believe that the trip is finally coming to an end.

Oh, Tomorrow, please don’t come.

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