Today was our last excursion and it rained steadily most of the day on our outing. I am so grateful we didn’t have crazy rain or hail, but wet is wet, and we were wet!
Our stop today was to Helsinki, Finland. The city itself has about 630,000 people and all together there is about 5.5 million people in the entire country.
According to our guide from 1200-1809 Finland was governed by Sweden, then 1809-1917 Russia, and in 1917 Finland gained their independence. To me it sounded like Finland has a good relationship with their Swedish neighbors, and maybe a somewhat hesitant relationship with Russia but I wasn’t really sure. Russia still has a big presence in downtown Helsinki with their embassy and some government buildings located in the heart of the city.
(Guess what color the Russian offices are? Utilitarian Grey! Surrounded by all those gorgeous buildings and lovely trees and they choose basic grey and glass.)
It’s not surprising this is such a desirable country because of its location:
Languages: 90% Finnish and 5% Swedish and many speak English. Their road signs are printed in both Finnish and Swedish.
Religion: primarily Lutheran but a small portion are Orthodox Christians from the Russian influence.
Government: Parlimentary Republic with elections every 4 years, led by a president.
Average income: $48,000 (US) per year and their tax rate is up to 60%, based on income tiers.
Transportation: it is very expensive to drive a car here but that doesn’t seem to bother them as their are lots of cars. Public transportation includes street cars for the inner city of Helsinki, buses and underground trains (subway).
I wish I could tell you we have lots of pictures of this gorgeous city but it was raining so hard we only have a few from near the end of the trip.
We took a drive out to one of their oldest villages named Porvoo. The plan was to walk around the city and shop but we arrived an hour before the stores opened so no shopping. Our guide had told us on the way out there about this fabulous chocolate shop so imagine the disappointment we were not able to shop there.
The bonus was the drive out there was gorgeous! It is springtime so flowers were in bloom and the forests were lush and green. Unfortunately, since water was cascading down the windows of the bus you will have to take my word for it as I have no pics. 😕
One of the oldest Lutheran churches in Porvoo, however, our guide said there had been a terrible fire and much of the church had to be restored so she is not sure any visible parts can be classified as built in the 1200’s.
Yes. Yes we walked down this cobblestone road in the rain. No words were spoken by anyone in the group, just pure focus and heavy sighs at the bottom. It was a longer road than this picture shows, Danny just stopped halfway to snap a picture. Yep, my man was leading the pack down those uneven big cobblestones. 😍
Here is the cellar where we had lunch. Loved the restaurant, the service and the food. It was a Finnish “meat roll” meaning it was beef in a pate’ consistency and it was very tasty. Served with a potato roll and veggies. Best part of the day really! Had to watch our heads but it was worth it!
Our last stop was to an open market area in the Helsinki City Square which is across the street from the President’s Palace. All at once a military band started marching out of the gated grounds and down the road so our guide told us the president was in the palace. Of course, I wouldn’t know him if I saw him but we took a picture of the band anyway. Plus the rain had finally cut back to a drizzle so we had to take a picture of something! Ha!
Wouldn’t you know it, about a half hour after we got back on the ship the rain stopped and the sun came out. 😕Something tells me we are going to feel right at home when we get back to Texas with all of the rain there!
Tomorrow is our last relaxing cruise day where we get to sleep in. Yea! Saturday we begin our flights back to Dallas, starting in Copenhagen to Amsterdam, to Detroit then to DFW. It will be a long day and we would love your prayers for travel mercies. Thanks!