It turns out you can rather easily. Remember back in Nida, Lithuania I met a Finnish and Kiwi couple? Well the Finn invited me to take a ferry over to Helsinki when I made it to Tallin, Estonia (the Kiwi had to return home 🙁 ). I did not even know this was an option, so I did not look into Finland much for my travels. Turns out there are three different ferries going back and forth and the voyage only takes a little over two hours, so I was up at 4:30am one mid August morning to catch the 6am ferry across (have to be there 30 minutes ahead of time minimum).
When I arrived in Helsinki I needed to wait for my friend, so I did a little sightseeing on my own (I might not have looked into Finland, but I can figure it out rather quick 🙂 ). The center of the city seems to be dominated by the Lutheran Cathedral. It was completed in 1852 and is a huge white building with all 12 apostles as statues on the roof. Personally I found the inside very, very plain as there were no paintings, tapestries, frescoes, etc. I much preferred spending time at the Uspenski Cathedral (cover photo), which is a Russian Orthodox church and absolutely gorgeous inside and out. From there I wandered to the Sky Wheel (a big ferris wheel) and found the public pools (very Scandinavian with the warm, cold, and sea pools). These are right next to Market Square, which is a large open area right on the waterfront where vendors set up tents each day. There were many tents selling regular tourist stuff, but locals come here also as you can see with the fish mongols, veggie stands, and Finns in the coffee tent.
By this time my friend joined me and the first place we did was take a ferry out to Suomenlinna Island, but since it is a World Heritage Site, I am going to write about it separately tomorrow. Once we got back she took me on a walking tour around the central part of Helsinki and told me her favorite places. All in we walked almost 15 km, so there is way more we saw than I can write about today. With that said there were three places that really stuck out to me.
First is the brand new, three story library. As we walked through I noticed lots and lots of kids inside playing with 3D printers, button makers, sewing machines, video games, virtual reality, and much more. What I did not see was ANY books. Turns out these are only on the third floor along with movies and board games. I might have geeked out a little as I drooled over the board games and said this was a good one, that one sucked, and I have not heard of these. 🙂 It was weird being in a library that had so few books, but it was full of kids, so they must be on to something!
The next thing that really stuck out for me was the church building that looked like a piece of art (see photo).
The last thing I did before catching the 9:40pm ferry was the Flying Cinema Tour of Helsinki, which is a 12 minute movie, but with motion chairs, water spraying, snow flying, etc. It went way past 3D. When it first started there was a little air hose at my ankle that went off and startled me. I did both the Helsinki film and all of Finland film, and I can easily say the Helsinki one was way better. A side note, thanks to the very friendly attendant (who is moving to the USA to be a ballerina) I got to see one of their 6 minute, fast paced, animated films. Boy howdy, with all the moving you do in those chairs, you better not be motion sick. 🙂
So, I did not get back to my hotel in Tallin until after midnight and it made for a VERY long day, but I loved shooting over and checking out Helsinki. Thank you!