On March 6th, I took a weekend trip to Helsinki, Finland with a few friends. We took an overnight boat (the Mariella, operated by the Viking Line) across the Baltic Sea and into the Gulf of Finland, arrived in town Friday morning and spent the day adventuring around town. In the evening, we got back on the boat and it took us back home to Sweden, arriving Saturday next morning.
As we pulled out of Stockholm the Sun was slowly setting, so we went topside and stayed on the outer deck taking photos until it was too cold and dark. For some reason I have no photos of Johna, an American friend who accompanied us, sorry Johna! I’ll post two of Neil to make up.
Greg, my American classmate/flatmate:
Neil, an American friend of ours, and Juan Pablo, my Colombian classmate:
Adriana, another one of our Colombian classmates:
On the left is Stockholm’s amusement park, Gröna Lund, which translates as the Green Grove, and on the right is a dockyard with what appears to be an older Navy boat:
Looking back on the old city:
As we sailed out through the straits, the Sun was really making everything glow. These red buildings are very typical Swedish. They LOVE this colour of red for houses, it’s everywhere! But I like it too, so no complaining.
The world is full of funny signs, and occasionally we find one here in Sweden or nearby. This one was on a metal door, which is apparently an explosive door…
In case we sink.
This spray-paint stencil in Swedish under the stairs on the side of the boat, translates as “Here thought M & J about each other.” Cute.
We slept well enough, no one got overly seasick, and we arrived in freezing cold Helsinki looking for adventure. This is the Helsingin tuomiokirkko which translates as Dome Church; pretty much all cathedrals in Sweden are called Domkyrkan which means the same thing. This one is an Evangelical Lutheran cathedral, the seat of the Diocese of Helsinki.
We took a bit of a walk to go see the Sibelius monument, a series of over 600 steel pipes welded together, dedicated to the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius and officially unveiled in 1967, 13 days short of the 10 year anniversary of the composer’s death.
There is also a strange abstract effigy of Sibelius nearby. Somebody put some snow on the face, which was kind of funny, hopefully not offensive.
Later on in the afternoon we decided to hit up the Postal Museum, which was more interesting than I expected it to be.
The Finns have, for many decades, issued special Red Cross stamps:
An old-school postal worker in wax form – they had one from every era in the postal service history!
It may have enough postage, but there’s no address on this chair, so I guess it’s undeliverable:
They had a bunch of ridiculously old postcards too, like from the 1800s and early 1900s; I had no idea the concept of postcards existed way back then!
It was really cold outside so I didn’t pull my camera out too often in town, and it’s not the most photogenic city anyways, but of course we all braved the cold again in the evening as we pulled out of the port of Helsinki en route back to Stockholm. As we went, someone noticed this old submarine on the shore. Now I’ve seen random submarines in two capital cities: Amsterdam and Helsinki.
One of the most impressive things in Helsinki, which four of us didn’t manage to visit, is the sea fortress called Suomenlinna (also known as Viapori, the official name until 1918). It was built on six islands in the 18th century, at the entrance to Helsinki, and has all sorts of weird tunnels and walkways.
Another funny passport control sign, reminiscent of the one in Mariehamn in the Åland islands.
I’m jealous of the person who owns this little island, so neat!
It got cold and dark again so we went inside, spent the evening eating too much food and dancing at the club on board, and slept a few hours before docking in Stockholm. You can see Neil was happy to be going home: