Geoff Brock & Bruce Gamble

2008: Helsinki

In July, Bruce celebrated his fiftieth birthday. One of his many surprises was to be told that he was going to Helsinki for five days... leaving later the same day!

  It was a lovely surprise and even London Underground seemed to be
  playing a part ... who told them, he wondered?

After a pleasant flight, we arrived in Helsinki and quickly found our hotel, the Hotel Kämp (above).
Another surprise awaited Bruce when he was greeted by a familiar face in the hotel foyer.
Philip had arranged his schedules specially so that he could be there, which was really nice of him!
We needed to mark the occasion, so it was off to find the bubbly!
Although it was the height of summer, it was a little fresh, but Geoff found a rather fetching blanket to keep him warm.
We later discovered that these are supplied at many outdoor venues in the city.
How civilised... and how green, in more than one sense of the word!
We had dinner at the Restaurant Kappeli, which is located in the Esplanadi (two parallel streets with a park between them). The restaurant specialises in Finnish cuisine, including reindeer, which was a first for Bruce. It was a lovely meal. The picture taken over dessert (right) is not a good one, but it's the only one we have.
Our hotel room was very comfortable

The hotel restaurant, where we had breakfast each morning,
doubled as a Japanese restaurant at other times.
It was unusual, with its low tables and 1970's ambience,
but the breakfasts were really good.

It was the start of our first full day and we set off to discover the sights of the city

The Uspenski Cathedral

The harbour on the other side of the Uspenski Cathedral (not the main harbour)

The Lutheran Helsinki Cathedral

Inside Helsinki Cathedral
                Below: University Library  
Below: Senate Square, taken from the steps of Helsinki Cathedral. A statue of emperor Alexander II is in the centre of the square.
We visited the Temppeliaukio Church (Temppeliaukion Kirkko) which was quarried out of natural bedrock and topped by a massive copper dome. It was quite a spiritual experience (oops, sorry, we aren't in Russia, so less of the spirituality) to hear the violin being played inside it during our visit, because the acoustics are excellent and it seemed to keep the other visitors quiet too.

Geoff took a liking to a Finnish speciality called karjalanpiirakat, a savoury pastry with a rice filling. He ate this one at
the Stockmann department store cafe, after which we sat and watched people going by in the warm sunshine.

Above: Outside Finlandia Hall
Above: The National Museum of Finland
Below: Finnish National Opera
There were many interesting buildings
in the city, such as the one on the right
We ate at the Sundman's Krog (bistro) on our second night and liked it so much that we went back two nights later
for our last meal in the city. On our third night, we ate in the same building, but at a different restaurant,
called Havis, which was also very good indeed,
Above: The Old Market Hall, opposite the restaurant
Above: Looking from the restaurant back to the City Hall

An after-dinner drink back at the Hotel Kämp
Over the next two days, we went to Suomenlinna (sea fortress) and to Seurasaari (open air museum),
but we also spent time strolling (and taking trams) around the city.
Above: Market Square
We tried twice to get the Sibelius Monument to ourselves. We were lucky the second time!

Were we still in Finland?
©Geoff Brock and Bruce Gamble