Travel dilemmas

by

Helsinki, Finland

#1 – Ian lost his jacket, left behind at the Chengdu restaurant last night, now retrieved.

#2 – if we leave Helsinki tomorrow and arrive in Vyborg, Russia, on Saturday we will have to sleep on a park bench, therefore train assistance is needed to get there on Friday and this was more complicated than we expected, but everything has now been arranged.

Our hosts gave us some Helsinki recommendations for today so we began by breakfasting at Karl Fazer Cafe in the city centre, established in 1891 and still providing a delicious buffet breakfast.

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A 5 piece busking band (2 trumpets, drums, tuba and saxophone) were playing nearby so we listened to their versions of an Abba classic, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You and Sunny. They were pretty good!

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Then we took a short ferry ride to Suomenlinna, an island with a fortifications and military history as well as a good view of Helsinki. The Finnish Orthodox Uspenski Cathedral is a major landmark with its green roof and golden onion domes. We went inside to see the impressive painted decorations covering much of the walls and ceiling and pictures of saints.

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Last on the program was a place recommended by both Jarrah and Hannu – the Sompasauna, a free unofficial sauna built and operated by volunteers in the most grungy industrial location at the far end of an old harbour that is currently under major redevelopment. We chatted with a Finnish man who told us about the elephant sculpture as well as about the etiquette of the sauna. Ian felt that he had been roasted enough during the hot weather of late, but I stripped down (not off) and went in to join 3 others in the 75 degree heat. That was intense but good. Better in winter though I reckon!

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