|Looking back at the Helsinki skyline as we head to Suomenlinna. The large ship is one of Viking Line's fleet that sail daily to Stockholm|
|Situated at the southern end of the main island is the King's Gate. After an hour's walk to get there, the first impression was "is this it then?" It was...|
|Close to the King's Gate in the fortifications, there is a small restaurant serving made to order pizza (delicious) As the rental car has gone back, beer is now permitted as well!|
|There's a huge dry dock on the island that is now used for the restoration of wooden ships and for storage during the winter when the sea freezes. Its last industrial use was building ships for the Russians, again as reparations.|
The Lutheran Cathedral is a few yards away and is one of the landmark buildings of the city
|Ann stands on the steps of the Lutheran Cathedral|
|In 1981, Ann is in the square in front of the Cathedral. Sadly, this area has now been turned into a coach park for all the tourists that now visit Helsinki.|
|The organ is impressive!|
|A statue of Martin Luther|
Helsinki is a city with much interesting architecture in many styles mixing the styles of the various countries that have claimed Finland as their own, but also incorporating features that would have you believe you were in Paris or Madrid.
|Esplanade Park in the centre of Helsinki. Tres French ne c'est pas?|
|Around the harbour|
|The main street in Helsinki on a Sunday morning. Public transport is fast, efficient and reasonably priced. There is an extensive tram system in addition to the buses.|
|At the weekend, this historic tram is brought out for a tourist service|
This just left us with a few things left to do. First on the list was the traditional end of the holiday meal, almost a re-creation of our first wedding anniversary that we had celebrated in Helsinki, but as I couldn't remember where the restaurant was we went instead to the landmark Vaakuna Hotel. Built for the 1952 Olympics, it overlooks the railway station and is a classic piece of mid 20th century styling. I stayed there several times in the 80s and, to be honest, I thought then that it had aged badly, but now it has somehow regained its style. I suppose everything from the 50s eventually becomes cool again (including your writer!).
The restaurant is on the 10th floor of the building and remains one of the tallest buildings in the City giving a spectacular view. Food is good, service is exceptional and prices are in keeping!
|It's Prosecco Time!|
On Sunday morning, we headed to the small island of Seurassaari, the location of an open air museum with a collection of building rescued from across Finland. Rather like the Weald & Downland Museum in Sussex. Here's a selection:
As we'd started the holiday visiting the home of Sibelius, we ended by visiting his memorial in Helsinki. As luck would have it, the park was on our bus route and as bus tickets are valid for an hour, no matter how many changes you make, we could stop off for free. Most people use pre-paid tickets in Helsinki, but single tickets can be bought for EUR 3.20. When our bus arrived, it seems that the ticket machine was defective. I suspect that in most cities, the bus would have been put out of service, or <shock, horror> the driver would have pocketed the fares, but here, we were given a free ride. So, here's the Sibelius Monument, again with hordes of tourists:
You need a vivid imagination to visualise a connection between a 20th Century symphonic composer and the sculpture.
Back to apartment, pack the bags and head to the airport. At which point we can declare the "Finnish" to the holiday.