Wayne & Mary Alice (MA) Wendel's travel journal with daily updates, places seen, people we meet, photos and funny stories. We will also share some travel tips with you so you won't make the same mistakes we have. We hope you will follow us by signing up for an automatic email. We would love to hear from you with comments and questions.
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Saturday, August 13, 2011
Helsinki Walking Tour: Short & Sweet
Temppeliaukio Rock Church
We arrived in Helsinki about eight this morning and the ship docked at nine.We got ready for the day, had our usual breakfast upstairs and hurried off at 9:30.We had no plans other than to get on a shuttle bus and walk around town.
We did want to see three churches in Helsinki because all three are unique:the Temppeliaukio Rock Church, the Lutheran Cathedral of St. Nicholas and the Russian Orthodox Church.The shuttle bus let us off in central downtown and after directions from a helpful Helsinki guide we started walking.By the way, just like Copenhagen and Sweden, the Fins learn English in school and they speak it better than many of us do!Said another way, I would hate to have to learn Finnish and try to pronounce some of the long, complicated words I’ve seen.
Our first stop was to be the Temppeliaukio Rock church. We followed the guide’s direction walking down the main street until we came to a statue of a guy riding a horse, turned left and went up the hill. We spotted the church which at first glance looked like a flying saucer on the ground.
This is because it was constructed by blasting a huge underground hole out of rock and carving it into a giant bowl shaped facility.A copper roof was installed which is what makes it look like a UFO.We did not get a chance to go inside because it was closed until 12 Noon. We did hear that the acoustics inside were absolutely amazing.
From there we retraced our steps stopping at the local McDonald’s so MA could catch use their WiFi to update the I-Pad and send a new “Word with Friends” Scrabble word to her granddaughter Jillian.
Our next destination was the Lutheran Cathedral of St. Nicholas, a huge white church on top of a hill dominating Senate Square.It was magnificent. The interior has a central dome with other domes around it supported by huge columns.
There is a gigantic organ at the back of the church and I could only imagine the music coming from its pipes.Protestants are not into statues but there was one of Martin Luther inside the worship area.As in Sweden, most Fins are Lutherans today.
Russian Orthodox Church
From there we walked to Market Square and found the local farmers and merchants market.There were all kinds of vegetables for sale as well as fruit, clothing, fur garments, and souvenirs, sidewalk cafes and harbor cruises for tourists.MA pointed out a woman who was knitting as fast as a machine without even looking at what she was doing, never missing a stitch.
From the market we looked uphill to the Russian Orthodox Church.We got to the front doors only to find it too was locked. Still, from the outside, it was another impressive church with its rooftop domes.
At this point we headed back toward the shuttle bus stop, stopping at a sidewalk café for two small beverages that cost us $25!Oh well, it’s the atmosphere and people watching we decided we were paying for. There was a van that stopped right by our table.It was filled with Chinese tourists one of who seemed to point his camera right at us, as if we were natives who would show up on his blog. I gave him a big smile, aimed my camera back, and we all laughed with thumbs up signals. From there we popped in to Stockman’s which is the biggest department store I’ve ever been in.Reminded me of IKEA times ten!
Next we made our way back to the ship for a late lunch.MA took her book and headed for the pool (it was about 72 degrees today with full sun) and I worked on the photographs I wanted to show you here.
Tomorrow we arrive in St. Petersburg, Russia. In our wildest dreams did we ever think we would someday find ourselves in that country!!Both of us are looking forward to the next two days of seeing some amazing sights.I am doing a night photography class for our tour company tomorrow evening so we won’t blog again until Sunday night.