Monday, 7 September 2015

My 4 day Helsinki trip in 2009 - Strolling around the city centre -The 29th and 30th of October 2009

I came across some  2009 photos of Helsinki as I was getting some of my staff organised and somehow realised I hadn't written about it nor downloaded any of those in my blog, which was set some time after. Despite feeling that some  travel memories might betray us if we don't write them down almost immediately I'll nevertheless try to go back in time and  write about it in retrospective mode.
I do remember getting into Helsinki fairly late in the evening and having had some difficulty locating the hotel as we got off the bus according to plan. We fortunately came across a lady who was running around in her jogging suit (which we felt was really brave as it was freezing) who helped us out even if it turned out the hotel was just around the corner.

It was a cosy familiar type of hotel located fairly close to the city centre (about a fifteen minute walk) which Mia and I were pleased about. The main idea behind the trip was to see if we could locate a lake, Faye had photographed and written about prior to her untimely death three years before, which we had been both impressed by on the annual ceremony held where she used to work. For all it sounded a rather strange reason for many, for both of us it was like wanting (needing) to get "closer" to her.


We set off fairly early in the morning and made our way into the city centre along what looked like a lake or a river bed, which we didn't know of at the time as we had no map nor any book on Helsinki. Whatever it may have been it was mesmerising to look at, and I do clearly remember we took our time to admire and photograph it, as well as a beautiful wooden villa which stood by its bank. A little further along we had to cross a grassy area which had an exquisite wooden sculpted moth-like butterfly, which I found very interesting. From there we could clearly see the city, which we soon reached.


We walked into the main train station, which is said  to date back to 1914, so as to get a map of the city, but once we walked out the main façade caught my attention because of the  four huge granite guardians wearing green woollen hoods to help them bear the coldness. They were clearly better prepared than we were, as I felt my hands go numb with the cold despite using woollen mittens for the second time in my life, the first having been in the French Alps some years before.

I do recall I had been lent a camera by C., as the one he had given me had  a minor focusing problem and was being repaired, so I was still trying hard to adequately use it as we made it to the Esplanadi park which we walked down onto in the direction of the harbour area. I was once more impressed by the "green areas", which  I am not so commonly used to in Lisbon and which I feel provide a very agreable type of atmosphere. Several statues were spread in the long stretch of paved and grassy area with one calling my attention particularly - A statue depicting a female figure holding Finland's National anthem, topped by the image of Johan Ludvig Runeberg.


We stopped at the Tourist office and soon found ourselves on a sightseeing bus, whose trip would later give us a thorough type of perspective and an idea which places we would like to further "explore".

Once we were dropped off some hours later we headed towards the southern harbour area which we strolled along having soon headed back in the opposite direction going towards the Uspenski Cathedral and a small guichet where we found the necessary information regarding a potential ferry boat trip to Tallinn.

We tried to walk into the Cathedral but because a service was being held we had to temporarily forget about visiting it. It looked majestic from the outside and this type of red brick and gold cupola, reflecting the Byzantine-Slavic architecture of the 19th century did really appeal to me.



We then headed back into the Senate square with its Lutheran Cathedral being restored. In spite of the ongoing works it was still impressive to look at. A statue  with the image of Czar Alexander II stood right in front of it  delimiting the centre of the square.

We soon walked back, this time in the direction of Havis Amanda fountain said to have been erected in 1908. The nymph and daughter of the sea is to many the symbol of the city. We bought our first postcards in a shop which stood in the corner overlooking the harbour, where we came across the first typical Finnish souvenirs as well.




It started getting slightly cold so we decided to go back to the hotel, not before having walked by the Finnish National Theatre, the oldest Finnish speaking professional Theatre in Finland.


On the way back we stopped at the castle-like building that houses the National Museum, whose façade is guarded by a gigantic bear statue and then a rather slow stroll (despite the cold air) along the Kaisaniemi park  with its  pictoresque wooden villas and its spell bounding bay ...



 (To be continued)

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