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
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
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
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 Uspenski Cathedral
The harbour on the other
side of the Uspenski Cathedral (not the main harbour)
The Lutheran Helsinki Cathedral
Inside Helsinki Cathedral
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
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
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
Above: Market Square
We tried twice to get the
Sibelius Monument to ourselves. We were lucky the second