This small city greeted us with sunshine on this Sunday morning. Like many places there were Sunday markets to enjoy, with silver jewellery, wood work, wool crafts and many other locally made goods. The smell of local street food contributed to the hospitality of the morning as the coach dropped us off for a 30 minute stroll – not long enough!
We enjoyed a sightseeing cruise around the islands close to the harbour, taking in the beauty of the small, forested islands and rocky outcrops, and the modern homes that lined the shore. The coach tour of the city took us to the main square where there was an international archery event, to the Sibelius monument and other sites around what is a fairly small city: but, certainly an interesting one, with a proud history.
As we travel we find more Australians on the ship, and everyone seems to be enjoying the shore trips and the days at sea. There are few complaints! Internet is very expensive and slow!
The tour was only four hours so there was ‘ship time’ before we sail to our next port – Stockholm, where we will spend two days.
These cities of northern Europe share much in common but also have many things that distinguish them. The Second World War is, understandably, a dominating discourse that has affected the way of life and the psyche of the people. The experience of the former Soviet Union is also very significant.
One thing that has interested me is the resurgence of Christianity in Russia and Estonia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Another thing is the ease of transport between these nations, no doubt facilitated by the European Union as well as the shared Soviet past that some have experienced. The huge ferries – a ship from Tallin (Estonia) is in port beside our ship in Helsinki harbour, and at least 10 tour coaches have disembarked, and up to 20 semi trailers! The ports are busy. Rotterdam port was quite amazing.