27 May 2017

Helsinki, Finland 2006

Helsinki was a bright revelation, although relegated to the initial meeting point and the terminus of our further destinations. It must be related to the clarity and energy of northern light! Hotel Scandic Grand Marina provided a night of rest before the next day's long drive. 

Enough time for a morning stroll, revealing our hotel could not have been more central. It was on the harbour and next door was a charming open air market. Shoppers have more than food to choose from!

Then we stumbled into a street demonstration, protesting or supporting lord knows what.

Much later, after thousands of kilometres driving through Russia and the Baltics, we returned by sea to Finland and Helsinki. We had a little more time then to sightsee.

The Church in the Rock (Temppeliaukio Kirrko) is probably the number one tourist attraction in the city. Finished in 1969, the circular Lutheran church is built into a natural, gigantic chunk of granite. The entrance would really fool you.

If you had a high external or aerial view, all that shows from the outside is the huge copper dome, forty feet above street level. Flying saucer deja vu, anyone?

The interior space was blasted out of the rock, leaving the stone walls as the natural finish. Light comes from windows between the dome and the walls. Concerts, as well as church services, take place here.

And speaking of music, Jean Sibelius, the native composer who died in 1957, is memorialized in a park named after him. The magnificent stainless steel sculpture reflects the beauty and colour of its outdoor surroundings, especially when the wind blows through the hollow tubes. The similarity to organ pipes (an instrument Sibelius never played) still causes controversy at home.

Of course Helsinki has much more to see than what we grabbed on the run, so to speak. Not necessarily top of a bucket list, but well worth more than casual attention.

© 2017 Brenda Dougall Merriman

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