Monday, October 26, 2015

June 30, 2015 - Helsinki. Last day of vacation. boo hiss.

We love Helsinki. One of our favorite cities on the trip. That said, we're sad we're back here because that means tomorrow we have to return to reality.

my signature pose. In Finland. 
(A duplicate and out of order because i want this to be the front page of this post.)

It's overcast but warm(ish)... about 65. Our ship docked at 8am. Thankfully passport control is much quicker here than in St. Petersburg. There were no cabs available (seems like missed opportunities to me, but okay) so we hopped on a tram and rode to the city center. We were about to transfer to another trammy thing to get back to our hotel, but when we asked a very nice lady which direction we should go, she pointed out that we were about a hundred steps from our destination.

We were also conveniently right by a McDonalds and who doesn't want McDonalds for breakfast?!?!?

We hadn't slept much on the boat so we were hoping we'd get into our room, but that was not to be. We did some off-loading from our backpacks to our big suitcases and went off to explore the city.

There's 2 hop on hop off buses that run around town and we decided to buy tickets. You get a narrated tour while on the bus, as well as transportation to whatever sight you're heading to see.

Stop 1 was a local flea market. We were excited to find some treasures there, as Karen did at the one in Versailles, but mostly these people were selling used clothing. BLAH. Nothing else really interested either of us though I did try wheeling and dealing on a pair of silver tongs.

PRO TIP: the fins do not wheel and deal.

We got back on the bus and headed to the church in the rock, which is very cool... and now we pause to let the pictures do the talking... :-)

Iron workers no longer draped in pride.

 We picked up the bus in the square in front of the lutheran cathedral.
Our Helsinki bus route.

 Karen plotting our course.
 pretty apartments...
gotta love the creative use of boots

 The flea market that wasn't all that great.
 beautiful architecture

 Church in the Rock entrance.

 of course we had to have a pic of this mustang for Marc!
 just a pretty town... 

So after the Church in the Rock, we did a little souvenier shopping, then headed back to the bus stop. We met some really fun Welsh tourists there while we waited. Our next stop was the Sibelius monument. Sibelius was a very famous Finnish composer. This monument was super controversial because it was abstract and no one understood it. The sculptor was forced to ruin the whole thing with a bust of the composer because people didn't get "abstract." I refused to take pictures of the bust, but i'll post one, since Karen did.

 back on the bus.
 it says don't touch, and i didn't, but it looks like i did because i'm wild like that.

Sibelius Monument. People think it's supposed to be a pipe organ since it a monument for a composer, but it is actually supposed to be representing the trees. 

apparently i was not speaking the truth when i said i refused to take a picture of the bust. also, it's more of a head than a bust. and i took it just for karen. i took no others. 

 my signature pose. In Finland.

 oh don't act like you wouldn't have.

After leaving Sibelius and his floating head, we decided to hoof it over to the Olympic Stadium. Being Finland, you'd probably assume that these were Winter Olympics, too bad you assumed that because you are wrong. The 1952 Summer Games were held here (Winter was in Oslo, there's pictures of the ski jump on one of the Oslo pages).

In Athens we saw the Olympic facilities from the 2004 games. only 11 years old right? We saw ancient ruins that were in better shape, quite frankly, it was very sad. In Helsinki, everything is pristine, including the 63 year old stadium and surrounding facilities. You could have the full summer games there tomorrow and probably the only thing you'd need is to add some heavy duty wifi.

It was impressive, and we got to go to the top of the tower that the Olympic flame burned from... a gorgeous panoramic view of Helsinki.

The torch tower.

 Look at this place, it looks brand new!

 from the top!

 the housing here was the olympic village where all the athletes lived.

 i saw this roller coaster in the distance and had to take a picture for the kiddos.

 statue? did someone say statue?

more boots as flower pots
 we found ice cream. shockingly, better than gelato in italy. 

We hopped on our bus from here and went back down to the market square where we'd been on the 26th. Karen had decided to buy a turtle poof that we'd walked away from that day. Sadly, it had sold and we didn't love the other ones. We found our reindeer ball and calamari tent and had something to eat before heading back to the hotel. On our way, we went into Stockmann's, the most enormous department store ever (it has a visitor's center, i kid you not. 8 floors above grade, 2 below.). Then we went to the hotel to get ourselves organized to head back to the states in the morning. 

right there on the 7th floor:  VISITOR CENTER

Since I cannot bring myself to do the saddest post in the world, which would be tomorrow's with nothing more than us leaving Europe. So I will end today's with those sad pictures from July 1, 2015.

 Our cab to the airport.
 leaving blows.
 from Karen's phone... not sure where she took this.
Karen in Paris (not in the good way)

 my flight cruelly tracked every single kilometer of leaving vacation behind... 
 this windmill farm was kind of cool though.

 That's the motherland down there.