09.01.2010 - 09.01.2010
We gained an hour of sleep last night and this morning's tour started at a reasonable time, so we headed out for our Helsinki tour well rested.
The tour we chose was scheduled for just a half day. It took us around various parts of capital of Finland, both new and old. Helsinki is a younger city than Tallinn. Because much of the original city was built as wooden structures, time and weather have taken their toll on the earliest structures. What's left are mostly from the late 18th century to the present. It is a vibrant city, despite the harsh winters. Our tour guide told us that Helsinki has two seasons: nine months of anticipation and three months of disappointment. Many of the older buildings resemble the long ornate palaces of St. Petersburg and the tall, narrower buildings in Copenhagen.
The three stops we made on the tour exhibited some structures that were outside of the norm, however.
The first stop was in Sibelius Park where we viewed an unusual sculpture on display. The monument is constructed of groupings of silver tubes and dedicated to a Finnish composer. This is apparently a well-known piece of art in this part of the world and now we know about it as well!
The second stop brought us to the Temppeliaukio Church. This Lutheran church was constructed by blasting a huge "bowl" in the granite bedrock. Then a circular roof was constructed over the top of it. The ceiling is decorated with a huge spiral of copper piping—over 11 miles of it.
Our last stop was in the town square that is surrounded by government buildings and a Lutheran cathedral on the high side. An added attraction for just this day was a display of painted bear statues. A total of 144 bears (one representing each member country in the United Nations) were standing hand to hand. Each is decorated to identify its sponsor country. We had fun looking at each one and trying to find the bear that represented each country we have visited.
Back on the bus and we were headed back to the ship for a late lunch. At 3:30, a group of local Finnish dancers performed folk dances in the main theater on the ship. We enjoyed the show. Dinner was in the dining room at six; a game of cards after that; and a magician's show at nine.
Susie and John headed back to the theater at 10:15 to watch the on-board version of the Newlywed Game. Contestants were three couples from the audience that had been married from 20 to 53 years. It was a hoot, but by the time that was over at 11:00, it was time to call it a day!