Friday, August 13, 2010


We woke in the morning and enjoyed beautiful, clear blue skies as we approached the port in Helsinki. Was interesting to watch as they shoot a small cable from the ship that allows the dock workers to 'grab' the big ropes they use to tie off with. At each port, there were only 3 men/women needed to secure the 85,000 ton ship.
This port wasn't nearly as busy as Stockholm but there were a lot of boats "working":
This would be the beginning of our day for the next 5 ports - tour buses. A necessary evil. We were glad of the English speaking guides - really made each place more interesting and let's just say; the commentary in the various countries, about various countries, was educational and a bit amusing. By the end of the trip though, we were done with people and buses and schedules.
Landscape in Finland is well, a lot like Minnesota! As was Sweden (although Minnesota doesn't have as much of the granite these countries do). Rolling forests, fields, cows and lakes. Finland isn't the land of 10,000 lakes though - they have over 100,000! So they say.
We visited a medieval church on our way to Porvoo. The girls are sitting in the seat of shame. Can you imagine?
There are serious moments on many trips and a trip to this region (Baltic - former Nazi occupations/Communist governments) had it's share.
Their wheat crops were still a bit green. We also noticed how much thinner and shorter the wheat was than in Switzerland. Finland is a fairly dry country in spite of the cold and snow - and being surrounded with so much water. Fire danger is a big threat as almost all homes are made of wood (their biggest natural resource) and the lack of regular rain in summer.
We stopped for a while in Porvoo, the 2nd oldest city in Finland - established 1340 on the banks of a river which leads out to the Baltic.
Many of the old towns in the Baltic cities we visited had these rock cobblestones - different from those in Central/Southern Europe and thus a bit more challenging on the feet. The red, wooden houses along the river in Porvoo. These are all rebuilt exactly like the originals - most original buildings by this time have been rebuilt due to fires over the centuries.

From Porvoo, we headed back to Helsinki with a stop at an old estate for lunch. Lunch was held in an old, underground distillery. Great atmosphere and I for one, like my food. I tend to be the most adventurous eater but as I will disclose momentarily, I'm rubbing off on the rest of them.
A Lutheran church built into a granite hill - ceiling is of coiled copper - very interesting.
Ice-breakers sitting at the docks on summer vacation:
An imposing church build high on a hill dedicated to Tsar Alexander II. Steps were steep!
It was time to depart Finland and head to St. Petersburg. We enjoyed our visit and Bart and Rachel came to the same conclusion during our tour - voiced within 2 minutes of each other and sitting in separate seats. Each said "hmm, Mom (Susan) must be part Finnish." Our tour guide was trying to give us a picture of not only the country of Finland but also of the people. She described them as people who read alot, aren't interested in TV so much and don't find it necessary to make small talk. They say what they need to say in as few words as possible.
Now, while I can certainly be chatty, I tend to be so with people I know. I avoid occasions where I have to make small talk with people I don't know where I can. And in my immediate family, I tend to be the quiet one. Often to be heard telling them to "quit talking all at the same time, you sound like chickens!" This trait doesn't appear to affect my writing. I can ramble away with the best of them......
It was a beautiful night and "Formal" was the suggested dress for dinner. We weren't strictly "Formal" but cleaned up pretty nicely. :)
Beach on an island off Helsinki:
Waiter was kind enough to take our pic after dinner. I was very proud of my family! I ordered the escargot appetizer and they were pretty much aghast! But our waiter had brought two of the order and I said they couldn't go to waste and should be tasted at least. They were also buried under melted butter and garlic so what's not to like? I assured them that they were tender, not at all rubbery/slimey and not a trace of grit (I don't like mussels because they can be gritty). Rachel had to be bribed with $$ and thought they were OK but didn't want another. Bart said "I can't believe I just ate that" but he ate 3. Kendra decided she loved them and she and I ate the rest. The menu all week had a good variety to it and Bart was especially pleased with the quality of each piece of red meat he ate. :)
It was almost like Date Night. With kids. :) We always have a great time with them and this trip was no exception. Rachel is getting pretty good at taking our picture so we have a lot more of us this trip - Fun.
End of a beautiful night.
Next stop: St. Petersburg.

1 comment:

Hi! It's me, Julie! said...

Beautiful picture of you and Bart... good job, R! And good job, K, on trying new foods...that would be Natalie, too...she's our eater!

This brought back memories of our trip to Estonia. I agree that that part of the world is Minnesota or maybe even Pacific Northwest, though I've never been there.

Thanks for sharing your trips, once again. Love seeing the world thru you!