Saturday, June 25th we docked in Helsinki, Finland. This was a short day for us. We took the “Helsinki By the Sea” Excursion. We boarded a coach bus that took us downtown to the Market Square where we then embarked on a short ocean cruise (about an hour). The boat tour took us around the islands outside of western Helsinki. The tour was very comfortable and interesting.
We passed by the Suomenlinna fortification Islands. Suomenlinna is a major monument of military architecture and is included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. The construction of the sea fortress on the islands just outside of Helsinki took place in the middle of the 18th century and was the most extensive building project during the Swedish rule. (Finland is independent, but was ruled by both Sweden and Russia at different times in history).
John bought and enjoyed a local beer while cruising around.
Helsinki is the gateway between East and West. While it embodies much of the Finish spirit and their progressive high tech push, it is unlike any other Finish city due in part to the fascinating combination of Swedish and Russian influences.
After the tour, we ended back at the Market Square where we walked around the Market for about 1/2 hour before returning to the ship. Market Square is located right downtown off the Bay and consists of tenets where merchants sold crafts, produce and food. The food tents were yellow and the craft tents were white. John was impressed as he walked around and saw items such as reindeer hotdogs, moose meat balls and fresh salmon fillets frying on the grill.
Most of the businesses were closed because it was the Midsummers holiday (the longest day of the year). Sweden also celebrated this holiday.
The weather was beautiful: 75°-80° and sunny.