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Helsinki, Finland på fest-båt November 12, 2006

Posted by thebigswede in Uncategorized.
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And here lies part II of the large update. A couple weeks ago I was contacted by my friend Ryan (from Stockholm) saying that he had free tickets to Finland on a cruise ship. Of course I had to say yes! While the original tickets were for going to some little town I had never heard of, we decided to go to the capital, Helsinki instead and pitched in some money to make it happen. I’m sure glad we did. Helsinki is, architecturally amazing. I won’t go into the long and often not so pleasent history of Finland and Helsinki here, but essentially they have been bossed around by either Sweden or Russia throughout their entire history. Helsinki, or Helsingfors (in swedish) was founded by King Gustav I of Sweden as a strategic port city to curb the influence of the Hanseatic League’s city of Tallinn, which is now the capital of Estonia. During WWII, in 1944 alone over 16,000 Soviet bombs were dropped over Helsinki; its a miracle that so much survived.

The boat/ferry/cruise ship that we took over to Finland was great and I would recommend it in a heartbeat. But first you must understand that the primary attraction for most people on this ship (or “party boat” as the Swedes like to call it) is tax free alcohol. Unless you lived in Sweden, you wouldn’t neccessarily realize what an attraction this actually is for many, as taxes on any and all alcohol in Sweden are stiflingly high. I didn’t partake in too much myself, but it was interesting to see how many students my age behave when no longer under the gaze of Moder Svea. Our cabins were below the cardecks and very near to one of the ships side thrusters, so it was a bit noisy at times but we got by just fine. Once docked, we only had about 7 hours in the captial so we got right to work and visited the two cathedrals that dominate the skyline.

This above picture is of a Russian Orthodox cathedral, the first that I have ever been inside. The interior was fabulous. It was covered from floor to ceiling in gold and contained thousands of religious icons. Personally I’m a sucker for tasteful brick architecture and this building really stood out from everything else in the city, in a very good way.

This next cathedral was equally impressive and obviously completely different looking from the previous one. The massive columns and stone stairs leading up the church reminded me of something out of Greek or Roman times; certainly the architect drew some influence from these times. I could post dozens more pictures of churches and buildings in Helsinki but that would take up way too much space, so I hope at least your appitite has been wetted and you have some desire now to see this great capital. One thing I will note is that the city had an obvious lack of coffee shops. This is especially weird because Finland is the #1 coffee consuming nation (per capita) in the entire world! We did however find one place and I must say that I now understand why consumption is so high: just like in Sweden, the coffee tastes heavenly. Below is a picture of me and my friends riding turtles, as well as the sign on a humorous sounding restaurant that we did not eat at.


Thanks for all your prayers, letters, emails and phone calls. As said before, they mean the world to me.

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Comments»

1. David Aaron Engle - November 18, 2006

Mike, it’s great to see these pictures and your new updates. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and am so exceptionally glad you have been having such a great time in Sweden.
I won’t be home for Christmas this year, but I plan to come spend a few weeks back in town after I graduate, before starting whatever job I’m going to be starting. It is my fond hope I will get a chance to see you there.
Until then, or whenever, best regards,

2. scarpe - April 12, 2007

Ich besichtige deinen Aufstellungsort wieder bald fur sicheres!


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