Sunday, July 12, 2015

Thursday July 9th, Suomenlinna

     Today was a short day of touristy stuff.  We spent about an hour in pursuit of a rental car (long story not worth repeating), made a reservation to pick up a car later in the afternoon, then walked to the Helsinki City Market, located at the end of the Esplanade where it meets the Baltic Sea. It was a lovely day, bright sun and nice temperatures...maybe around 70?
   Our three day public transportation pass included the journey on a boat to and from Suomenlinna, an island fortress built in the 18th century by the Swedish government to fend off the Russians. I suppose it was a 15 or 20 minute trip.  On the way there I sat next to a guy wearing a Chicago Blackhawk's t-shirt.  I told him I liked his shirt and he told me that he was from Chicago and was visiting Finland with his Finnish girlfriend.

     We picked up a visitor's guide upon arrival and stopped in the grocery to buy a couple of bottles of water.  We followed the suggested route from the brochure, visiting the church and the fortified areas. I think it is interesting that the islands that comprise Suomenlinna are inhabited. There is a grocery, a school, and a little minimum-security penal facility with the offenders working as maintenance workers at the fortress.  Along the way we passed cafes, mini-museums, and shops, and at the end facing the sea were the cannons and gunpowder magazines.  When we got down to the farthest point from the main quay (maybe 1 mile?) we decided to stop for a little snack at Pizzeria Nikolai.  We ordered a pizza to share and soft drinks and sat down under an umbrella because we wanted to eat in the shade.

     Our pizza arrived quickly, then it started to pour. It honestly went from sunny and warm to cool and rainy jacket weather in a matter of 5 minutes!  Not to worry, ten minutes later it had stopped raining and we left the protection of our umbrella and headed back up the path. While waiting for the ship to take its back to Helsinki, Riina spotted a Finnish TV actor named Aarni Kivinen. He was dressed in a suit and was talking on the phone waiting for the same boat. No one approached him for his autograph, as far as I could tell.  Riina says he was in a soap opera show that was popular among young people.

     We picked up our rental car near the Helsinki train station around 4:30 p.m. It's a Volkswagen Golf.  Karl is the driver and Riina sits up front to translate the signs.  If you've never seen nor heard Finnish, it is a totally different language group from English, French, Spanish, German our any other language you might know. It's related to Estonian and Hungarian.  You can look at a sign and not even make a guess at it's meaning.

     So we headed out of Helsinki toward Tyrnävä, the town Riina lives near.  We stopped for dinner in Lahti and ate at a Finnish chain Italian restaurant called Rosso.  Karl and I had pasta and Riina had a sandwich on ciabatta bread. We continued on our way to Jyväskylä, Finland, where we stayed the night at the Spa Hotel Rantasipi Laajavuori.  It's difficult to find hotel rooms for more than 2 people in Finland, by the way.

     Anyway,  here are the pics from Suomenlinna and the rest of the day.

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