My first time in Finland! DH is 1/2 Finnish, but hadn’t been there either.
I loved Helsinki, and absolutely want to return.
We did an open-top bus ride around the city; which is a nice way as a newcomer to get the lay of the land. But, I knew before we arrived what I wanted to see/experience, and I did everything I wanted.
Our first stop was the Rock Church. (pics to follow, ship internet connection is really slow) We couldn’t enter the church as they were doing a rehearsal for an upcoming confirmation ceremony…and it was fun to watch that, even though I didn’t understand what they were saying.
I then went to a convenience store and had my first Mountain Dew since leaving the U.S. It was tasty, but not the same as our version. It was less sweet and less carbonated.
We then walked to Finlandia Hall. One of the recommendations from “the book” is to experience the architecture of Aalto. It is a beautiful building with nice white marble…set on a lovely little lake. I wish we could have gone inside, but it was a weekend morning and the building was closed and only dose tours during the week.
We then walked to a shopping area near the train station, stopping first at a local McDonald’s. Rick Steve’s recommends eating at McDonald’s in other countries because they do offer difference foods. I don’t eat McDonald’s at home, but did try a chicken wrap that was pretty good and one of their healthier options. The french fries were the same. The McDonald’s had free wi-fi, which was great to quickly read emails and catch up on “words with friends” games. It was too early in the U.S. to text or talk to anyone.
We then walked to their local department store – Stockmann. I guess it is the Macy’s of Finland. They have a small food hall, plus grocery store that DH and Andy were pretty excited about. I was excited about finding a toilet that I didn’t need to pay to use. I did buy a lovely new summer-weight scarf. Nearly every woman I saw was wearing a scarf.
We then wandered along the Esplanade – a famous shopping street and park – on our way to a market we had seen from the bus.
We stopped by a few stores. Who knew you could buy canned bear or reindeer meat? I didn’t because it sounded too gross and Spam-like.
I stopped in their local Louis Vuitton store. In a testament to how lovely the people of Helsinki are — it was the only, yes the only, LV store I’ve been too that didn’t seem pretentious. I immediately felt comfortable. I’ve been to the world-famous LV store in Paris and never stayed long because the vibe in the store is very stuck-up.
We then made it to the street market and ate little fishes and potatoes. The spuds were great, and I have to admit the fish were too; considering I didn’t want to like the fish. I couldn’t bear to eat their little heads though, even though you are supposed to pop the entire thing in your mouth.
I bought a lovely silver ring, and we bought a reindeer hide. (that will be its own blog post)
Another experience featured in “the book” is Finnish Design. I saw pieces of that during my stroll through Helsinki and in the goods offered for sale. I think my ring is a great example of Finnish design. I assume I won’t see another like it anywhere else. He assured me it wasn’t made in China.
I loved Helsinki and wished I could have stayed longer, so I must return. One of the downsides of cruising is the limited time in each port, especially when you find one you really like.
Jill and I decided a good indicator of how wonderful Helsinki is is how they treat their dogs and how happy every dog we saw seemed to us. We stopped to pet two greyhounds near Finlandia Hall. They, and their owner were very nice. We saw several dog parks. Dogs that live in Helsinki seem very happy! Dogs in Paris seem stuck-up.