We took the ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki on the 21st early morning, a brand new experience for me. To drive in to a huge ferry boat with your car, park it in the basement and then go to the living area. The ferry was 2 hours long and we arrived in the ferry harbor of Helsinki around 10 30am.
Marla our great friend who I met in Haiti was there to pick us up. We walked towards the main market place and there Henna joined us, another great friend from the Haiti mission. This is the best part of our jobs…. Be able to meet extraordinary people from all over the world.
They were walking information centre for us. We first went to book our tickets for the cruise to St Petersburg for the next day. But we got ticket for Monday night so we had 2 full days in Helsinki with our good friends.
We went to have lunch in a traditional Finnish restaurant in down town Helsinki. Sparkling wine and white fish in Finnish style…. We talked talked and talked… shared memories of Haiti mission….. Our jobs at the moment, common friends were some topics….
During lunch we planned our stay or rather Marla and Henna planned our stay in Helsinki, They did not want us to miss anything. One cannot have better tourist guides than natives from the city to discover it. When those natives are your good friends it can be more fun….
So we decided do go find the camp ground after lunch then have some rest. Marla and Henna were supposed to join us for dinner in our motor home, our first guests in the motor home….Lovely evening spent together …..
I cooked a Sri Lankan meal for them…. We all enjoyed a nice quiet evening…. But before the guests arrived Gerhard and I thought we should have a swim…. So we went to the beach next to the camping ground… where lots of Finns were already swimming in their swim wear…… water temperature around 15 I guess…. It was too cold for me…. But we did not give us…We put on our scuba gear and went to the sea….. It was nice entertainment for others to see two funny people swimming in scuba gear. Water was nice e and fresh but we didn’t freeze to death as we were well covered…. I loved this adventure….
We decided to do a bicycle tour in Helsinki on Sunday. We went to Marla’s place where we left the bikes and started cycling towards the music hall (Finnlandier house) Then we passed the Olympic stadium and cycled towards the house of the prime minister and the president. There we were joined by Anders and Henna. We all continued to the Cybelious monument…. The great composer of Finland. The monument was built in 1968 to commemorate the 100 anniversary of the great musician.
The next stop was Temppeliaukion…. The church inside the rock… this is amazing… a very soothing place….. modern but ancient…. This is where we had an issue in our tandem… the back wheel was not functioning properly and did not let us continue to cycle…
So we decided to stop for lunch… Finnish cheese, Rye bread, cloud berry jam, rain dear meat and strawberry and rhubarb cider for lunch….. I am seeing and leaning the food habits of Finns
Then we went to a very special place… Mattolaituri…the place where Finns wash their carpers once a year in summer. This is a Finnish tradition to wash their carpets once a year in a public place… A man was washing some 10 big carpets at this place… We were watching him with our glass of Champaign……Matom Pesu is how they call it… There seems to be many places like this in one city, this tradition looked to me like a once a year social gathering, where you meet known and unknown people.
Our next stop was Helsinki Cathedral which is called Suurkirkko and the orthodox church Uspenkinski. Both the churches were unique for me, both were places where one feel calm and settled.
The last stop of the city tour was hotel Torni. Where we had a Finnish cocktail enjoying the view of the city of the 8th floor. We were able to trace our day’s bile path and the places we visited. A nice way to end the tour.
Then Marla and Gerard had to return the rented bikes and to collect our tandem and Henna and I continued cycling back to the camp ground, some 12 km… It took us one hour….. We were dead tired… but we made it…
The plan for the evening was Sauna in the real Finnish style. Marla and Henna taught me to do sauna sausage (sauna makkra) and we spent yet another fabulous evening with all our friends: Marla, Henna, her husband, Aili, Anders and Jouni.
Then I learnt my first two words in Finnish: Rakstan Sinua and Mita Vittua.
Finland Info: http://finland.fi/Public/default.aspx?
Helsinki Info: http://www.helsinki.fi/en/