Saturday, 23 June 2007

Day 9 - Helsinki

The day in Helsinki was going to be spent sightseeing around the city and all being well ending the day at Linnanmaki, the main amusement park in the city. I had been to Helsinki with the club before but never really saw the city; we went straight from the Ferry port to the park and then to the hotel. So it would be good to see some of it this time around.

Choosing to skip breakfast in the hotel, knowing the docks would offer a nicer selection, we grabbed a shuttle bus to the airport and a bus from there into town.

There seemed to be quite a lot of these turtles around the city. Different I suppose.

As you can see we didn't have the best weather here, and there were times where we had to get out of the rain.

It also meant our open top bus had the soft-top pulled over, so photos from the bus weren't going to be that great, which potentially was a good thing as we had to get off it every now and then, which we might not have done had the weather been good.

Can't remember now where I took this, ah well. I took so many pictures that its hard to recall them all.

This I do know, it's the city's Cathedral. Originally built around 1830 for Tsar Nicholas I it was renamed when the city got its independence from Russia in 1917.

The cathedral sits on the North side of Senate Square, and this statue of Alexander II sits in the centre.

A view from what's known as the "Cliff Edge", basically the stairs leading down from the cathedral to the square are steep and you don't see them until up close to the apparent edge, so it looks like there's a big drop separating the two.

Another shot of the cathedral this time in HDR-vision.

A short walk away from the square are the docks and beside that a wonderful market, if you wanted to buy green beans and berries that is.

Beside that there is also a famous indoor market, which was excellent.

Some of the stalls sold familiar food.

Others were tailored more to local fayre. You'd be hard pushed to find Reindeer pelts in the UK.

and moose and bear salami would be a definite no no. Whilst I would have been up for trying that, I'd not had breakfast so we decided that this would be a perfect place for that and being beside the sea we went for a fish platter which was really nice.

A little way out East atop the Katajanokka peninsula is another cathedral, this time the Uspenski. Built in the 1860s it is currently the largest Orthodox church in Western Europe.

This HDR shot didn't come out too good I think.

A view out from the cathedral towards the ............ other cathedral.

Normally I don't take photos inside religious buildings but it was encouraged here for a small donation and as long as you didn't use the flash. So I did my bit and took this one with a long exposure.

Back to the docks, why build a statue of a bird on a pillar....

...when it happens naturally anyway!

More stone turtles but these haven't been impaled on lamp posts.

This is Havis Amanda, a statue of a naked lady erected in 1908. It's famous for being included in the local university's Vappu celebrations where each year the students place a different hat on her head.

Having spent enough time around the docks it was time to get back on the bus and see what else the city had to offer.

It was on the bus that I had this amazing revelation. Fold the tour bus ticket in half and then half again, then fold the outer-quarters out and hide the centre two.

and you get a subliminal David Hasslehoff reference.

This is the Sibelius monument out to the west. Built in honour of Jean Sibelius, the city and country's most famous composer.

When first erected it drew quite a lot of criticism (abstract art not being grasped by some) so an effigy of the man himself was added alongside later.

Rather than wait for the next bus, the rain had subsided so we decided to cut through the park towards the Olympic Stadium nearby.

That's the main stadium on the right with an observation tower to it's left. Originally built for the 1940 Olympics, with a war getting in the way the stadium didn't actually host the Olympics for another 12 years.

A view from atop the tower looking North towards the Helsinki football stadium and Ice Hockey stadium.

Looking East and Linnanmaki steals the skyline. From here we could see everything was running so we knew we had to head over there next. That Orange track looked especially insane. That was Kirnu; more on that later.

The city was holding a massive football tournament (mixed age groups and sexes), so the football grounds were being put to good use.

Paavo Nurmi was one of Finland's great Olympic athletes winning 3 gold medals for long distance running in 1920 and another 5 four years later. A statue of him stands near the stadium.

This lake sits beside the National Opera Building but more importantly for us also sits beside the road that joins the stadium complex to the theme park, and after buying our wristbands we thought we'd run around and nail the rides seeing as they were running. One of the unofficial rules of the club is that if you're in a park and see a ride running ride it, as it might not be running the next time you see it. We knew we'd be here with the club tomorrow but we'd kick ourselves if a ride was down.

The park itself was pretty empty, mostly due to the weather. This meant we were able to get around everything pretty quickly.

This is Tulireki (translates as Fire Sled) one of the new additions to the park since the last time I'd visited.

It's supposed to bank into bends and skid out on the turns, but I didn't really feel that except for one place on the track. I don't know if that motion had been turned off or not. Still it was a pretty decent ride.

This is Vonkaptuous, the parks water coaster. Very wet and having been soaked on it before chose not to ride it this time, especially as it was still fairly cold from the earlier downpours. But Jeppe had to ride it as it was his first time here, fortunately he escaped relatively dry.

Another shot of Tulireki.

The powered coaster is Pikajuna, which I'm going to guess means electric train, not because I can speak Finnish but because the Pokemon character Pikachu means "electric mouse".

This monster is Kirnu, which means churn and that's exactly what it does to your insides. It is a much better ride than it looks. Although short it packs a mean punch, especially in the hump at the end.

Given the small footprint that this ride takes up I wouldn't be surprised if you saw more of these pop up, although being the first one built there are some teething troubles that need to be ironed out.

Linnunrata is the park's indoor coaster and it supposedly translates as "Galaxy" (although you'd think Lunar something). I really enjoyed this the last time I rode it but the paint scheme was more gaudier this time around. It still had the cool effect where you think you're being slungshot around a planet though. Is "slungshot" even a word?

Nice water feature.

Cool wind farm too!

Vuoristorata is the main famous coaster in the park and one of a small number of scenic coasters left in the world. Actually of the half dozen or so left in the world, three of them were on this trip.
This one is one of the most recent built in the 50's.

Anyway having nailed the rides and got a nice taster of the next day we left the park and headed back into the city.

The main bus and train station in the city, not sure why we were here, oh yes! it was to ensure we knew where to catch our bus back to the airport. Basically we were taking a bus to there and then the free hotel shuttle bus back to the hotel.

Took a photo of this only for the second band listed down the left. We never did get to hear what The Finnish Bastards music sounded like.

More turtles and I have no idea what the one on the left had to drink, but I'd like some!

This is one of the largest malls in the town, Mall Kampi, which as well as containing loads of shops, apartments and the largest cinema complex in Helsinki also houses one of the train stations in the city. It was here that I had a great conversation with some girls who's English seemed to come from watching episodes of "Cold Feet". It was particularly funny when I said I was from London that she went "Shit!......I mean shite!". Also came across weird toilet installations where having paid money to get in you could spend as long as you wanted in there, which I think may happen to people who miss the last train home.

The central train station, which I had planned to use to get us to the hotel but we ended up using taxis and the shuttle bus.

It reminded me a bit of Gotham City for some reason.

A solitary bear for non-turtle lovers. This was at the airport, where I made a tit of myself by realising we were on the wrong floor to catch the shuttle bus and on seeing the last one of the day pull up nearby screamed back to the other two to run and catch up. The downside to being the trip organiser I guess :) . Anyway having made it back to the hotel we caught up with other friends who were also staying there in preparation for the club trip the next morning.

Today's route. The bus tour covers more than this, I've only included those places mentioned in the report.

1 comment:

Gramercy Riff said...

I came across your blog by accident looking for some information on travel to/from Russia and Estonia. I've been reading your trip report with lots of interest. I hope to make the same trip route, although most likely, it may be in reverse. It all depends how things work out, if they do.

As an aside, I've been gleaning some of your tips and remarks about various tidbits, random observances, and the way Russia operates. Most importantly, the heads up about the pick-up spot for the Eurolines coach. It's little things like that which cause the heart to come to a sudden stop!

Unlike you, I would be visiting for an entirely different hobby.