Monday, November 10, 2008

Helsinki (Finland) & Tallinn (Estonia)

Kopervos, my friend in Milan, and I decided to take a weekend trip together, so we looked at the map of Europe and selected our next destination, Helsinki, Finland. I had been very eager to visit Scandinava so I was so excited to finally be going. It was only early November but we were disappointed not to see snow considering how far north, and close to Russia (even moreso than when I visited Latvia) we were, but we certainly had the same cold to experience!
Our first stop was the main shopping strip on Pohjoisesplanadi. Our first discovery was the country's oldest department store, Stockmann, which had ever Finnish souvenir imaginable! We got completely lost admiring all the porcelin and woodcrafts. On the way to Kauppatori, the market square, where vendors sold fish, produce, fruits, and handicrafts such as reindeer antler bottle openers and all sorts of winter accessories, wool gloves, ponchos, fur hats, etc., we saw the mermaid statue fountain, Manta, which we read is commonly regarded as the symbol of Helsinki.
After the market, we went to Senaatintori, the central square that is modeled after Russia's St. Petersburg, to see the Tuomiokirkko (photo above), Lutheran cathedral, and famous Helsinki meeting point of the steps in front.
It wasn't yet noon and the city didn't seem to be offering much more for us -- I get the impression that Christmastime and summer are the best to visit Finland -- so we decided to check into the ferry we had heard about that went over to Estonia. We were thrilled to find that we were just in time for the afternoon service so we bought our tickets and set sail across the Gulf of Finland.

2 hours later we deboarded in the charming city of Tallinn. We only visited old town and the whole time it very much felt like we were in a medieval village.
We strolled the quaint, cobble stone streets looking at all the tourist shops and outdoor vendor stalls. Kopervos was looking at the wool ponchos, but quickly realized they weren't the form fitting type she was hoping for. We made our way to the city wall for views that reached way down to the harbor, saw the Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, and found the Olde Hansa restaurant the authentic period restaurant serving such interesting foods as bear, elk, and wild boar sausages with sauerkraut, forest berry, and horse radish cottage cheese, with beautiful medieval style live music setting just the right mood in this cozy restaurant.
Sunday in Helsinki was all about shopping, we spent the morning at the Arabia porcelin factory outlet where I picked up a set of beautiful iittala tea cups and saucers. We went back to Stockmann to pick up some of the intricate handicrafts we had seen the day before.
All in all it was a great weekend spent exploring some great places with a really great friend!

1 comment:

bathmate said...

Best work !

love all !!!!