Thursday, August 6, 2009

Helsinki Anniversary

Happy 32nd Anniversary to us! And what a thrill to be able to have a Scandanavian celebration.

So I guess I had better do a catch up on the last 2 fun-filled days.

Yesterday (Wednesday) we toured some more in Stockholm after a restless night's sleep. We took a ferry to an island that is more park-like with several museums and a bunch of ritzy homes. We toured the Vasa musuem, which displays the ship, Vasa, which sank on its maiden voyage in the early 1600's. The ship was raised in 1967 and is now housed in this wonderful museum. This wooden ship is most impressive, especially all the ornate wood carvings. There are many displays that go along with the ship which was all very interesting

After the Vasa museum, we rented bikes on the island and did a one-hour ride around the island, ejoying the water views and the stately homes.

After lunch in one of the many cafes, we did some shopping ( yarn stores!!) and then headed back to our hotel to claim our luggage before heading to the pier for our ship to Helsinki.

We walked to the pier, about a mile, pulling our suitcases along behind us. Since we only had one night on the ship and we knew we'd be trying to sleep with jet lag, we booked the smallest 2 person room available, and it was tiny! Here is Jim showing you exactly how large the cabin is!!

It was fine, especially since the only time we were really there was when we tried to sleep. This ship is famous for their Swedish Smorgaborg and is was huge! We had the 7:30 seating for dinner which allowed us to watch the scenery pass as we moved through the Stockholm Archapelago on the way to the open waters of the Baltic Sea. An interesting couple, who now live in the country of Jordan were our table mates for dinner. She was originally from Helsinki and he called Northern Ireland home. She was able to answer many our questions about Helsinki and we enjoyed our 2 hours of dining time with them.

Another restless night, in spite of being sooo tired. After breakfast on the ship we arrived in beautiful Helsinki just before 10 AM. The approach to this Finnish city was again through a pinball machine of small islands. This time our hotel was just behind the ship's terminal and we were able to get into our room right away and then have the rest of the day to be tourists. We walked to the train station to get my rail pass upgrade to a sleeper car pass for my trip to the Arctic Circle on Sunday night. We also checked out departure times for our trip to Lahti tomorrow and my possible trip to Turku later next week. All seems to be in order at this time.

We shopped a bit in an open air market right in the harbor area and got some lunch, which we ate while waiting for a ferry to take us to the historic island of Soumenlenni, a 10 minute ferry ride.

This island is home to a huge fort that was built to keep out the Russians, but that was later taken over by the Russians~that plan did not work out so well for the Swedes.

Now it features lots of walking trails and green spaces for the local Finnish population to enjoy. Many families were picnicing and lots of people were laying out in the sun in their bathing suits. It was a beautiful day to do such things. Upon our return, I went for another walk and Jim took a short run.

Since today is our 32nd anniversary, we decided to go to a high-end restaurant. While on my late afternoon walk I discovered a place that was Helsinki's restaurant of the year and they had tables right by a harbor area. We checked the reviews and it sounded wonderful, so during our pre-dinner walk, we stopped by and made reservations for 7 PM. We ate at one of the outdoor tables and truly had a delicious meal. I have pictures to share, but am too tired right now to download them from the camera. This restaurant uses lots of local, seasonal food and it all was tasty. One of the vegetables in abundance at the open-air market today were fresh peas in their shells. My dinner included some of these peas and they were tasty! Two hours later, we walked back to our hotel and are ready to crash.

You may be getting the idea that we are walking a lot and you'd be right. According to Jim's pedometer, we are walking between 20,000 and 30,000 steps a day, not including his runs! You'd think we'd sleep better at night.

Tomorrow we take the train to Lahti, where Jim will race on Saturday.

Hope all is well.

1 comment:

coreyrob said...

Happy Anniversary! Looks like a fab trip so far!