Thursday, 20 January 2011

Pre-Christmas - Helsinki

We hopped off the Ferry in Helsinki to find another snow-covered and very cold city. Here too they had experienced unseasonably cold weather and the harbour had a significant amount of ice in it and there was plenty of snow on the ground.
Fortunately our hotel was located very centrally, just a short walk from the Christmas markets along the main esplanade of Helsinki, and just across the road from a fantastic café where we visited several times during our stay.
Aside from spending time at the Christmas markets, we also visited the local sites, including the Russian and Lutheran cathedrals and the National Museum.
We also visited a church that was carved into a rocky hilltop, where we were lucky enough to see a choir practising (the Finns are famous for their singing, and the church had fantastic acoustics).

Finland is also famous for it's design, and we spent a lot of time wandering through the design district, buying presents for ourselves and family. Linda also sought out the best in Christmas decorations from the country that practically invented it.

To escape the markets and shopping, we caught the ferry out to nearby Suomenlinna, which was a somewhat Arctic experience, with a strong wind blowing the snow around the old houses and fort located there. It really gave us an idea of how cold it was outside of the city!
The ferry ride itself was amazing, as we had to barge our way through ice in our little boat. On the way back it was warm enough to stay outside and we took plenty of pictures of the ice on the harbour.
Lastly, we had plenty of good food in Finland, whether in Cafés, Markets, or Restaurants. We ate Reindeer and Elk but stayed clear of the Bear meat. We were lucky also in that although the days were short, we had quite clear whether during our stay, and even some sun!

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