The View From 32


AUGUST 4, 2007  

On vacation - Helsinki, Finland

View of harbor towards SveaborgSince the weather was beautiful when we returned to Helsinki, not cold and rainy as it had been a few days earlier, our first stop after getting coffee at Market Square was to take the ferry to Suomenlinna.

Built as a military fortress, the island now has a visitor's center and many restored buildings as well as an active military academy, cafes and parks. Most guidebooks consider it a "must-see," so we did.

It reminded me a bit of Kelleys Island except that there were no cars or golf carts. People walked everywhere—imagine that!

Interior of Lutheran church on islandOn a prominent island hilltop there's a church originally built in the Eastern Orthodox "onion dome" style. In the 20s the domes were removed and it was converted to a much more restrained Evangelical-Lutheran church.

Compare its interior with a Russian church with similar architecture.



Our plan for the day included a return visit to the church in the rock, finding a good Finnish restaurant for dinner, followed by a free organ concert at the cathedral.

Interior of church in the rockWe'd seen the Church in the Rock on a sightseeing tour, crowded with tourists. We went back today just before closing time to appreciate its quiet beauty.

Unlike a traditional church, this one was built down into a rock formation surrounded by apartment buildings rather than up.

If you find your god in nature, you might want to visit.

Plate with vegetable pancake, barley and sauce.Yet another variation on the potato pancake theme I pursue around the world. This one is made with zucchini and goat cheese and served in a nettle sauce with barley and pine nuts. Tasty, although the sauce was very mild—I'd expected something more tangy from nettles!

Here's the waiter's description of my meal:

View of cathedral looking up from EsplanadeAfter dinner we went to the Cathedral, which towers above Congress Square and the surrounding buildings, for the organ concert.

I haven't seen the inside of this many churches since I was an altar boy!

Like the church on Suomenlinna this one is Lutheran and has a similarly austere interior except for the ornate organ.

Interior of Helsinki cathedral, looking toward organThe concert, which I expected to be glorious, was... long.

Here's a bit of one of the quieter pieces:

I didn't dislike the music, just didn't find it very interesting. Others were more positive: the organist got an enthusiastic round of applause at the end. Maybe organ music is an acquired taste.


TOP   |       |      |