Keukenhof Gardens and Scandinavia travel blog

Fruits in a market stall

A cabin sauna

Degero Strait

Ice Breakers

Senate Square

A telephone kiosk

Two levels of bells

The upper level

A neat building in Oulu

The policeman statue in Oulu

Yesterday we saw Helsinki in the rain. Sometimes it sprinkled and sometimes it poured. It sprinkled when we ran to catch the # 40 bus to the train station and city center. And while we walked through Esplanade Park to the harbor and Market Square. It poured while we had coffee awaiting the Helsinki Harbour Cruise.

On the boat cruise through the archipelago we saw and learned a lot. First there was the ferry terminals with their ice breaker equiped ferries...both the Viking and Silka lines as well as the one across to Tallin 87 kms away. Apparently Finns will take day trips on the boats to watch the ice breakers at work...and booze is tax free and cheap.

The olf fortress..Suomenlinna...was built to repel sea invasions. The Russians invaded by land. It was built by the Swedes....they couldn't get there to help the Finns as there was too much ice. The fortress is spread over 6 islands. The area ix now used as a tourist attraction and for summer picnics.

As we floated by islands we saw lots of summer homes complete with summer homes boathouses and saunas. Some 'cabins' were very large. One even had a floatplane.

Bridges were low. Straits were narrow. Degero Strait was the lowest and narrowest with rock cliffs almost touching the boat as we inched by.

We saw the zoo, the ice breaker fleet and a power station, coal powered.

We learned about Finnish life, that the Baltic is shallow and can reach 20 degrees in summer perfect for swimming in the midnight sun. Days in summer start at 3a with the sun setting at Midnight. It sets around 11pm now.

We had reindeer meatballs with lignonberry sauce when we disembarked after our 1 1/2 hour cruise. Delicious. The meat had been spiced with thyme and rosemary. Potatoes were fried with onions and bacon.

Next we wandered a little through the market. Wood products were inventive from hot dog forks to smiling spoons and trivets. We also saw articles made from reindeer antlers.

Next as the rain pounded down we ran to Senate Square to catch the hop on hop off bus. We stayed on for the entire tour. We admired the old neo-renaissance buildings with their narrow julliet balconies. Corners are rounded and seem to hang in the air...a few feet off the ground. Some are ornate, some not. As it rained its hardest as we passed the stops for Sibelius Monument and theTemppeliaujko Church....the neat looking Rock Church built into a rock....we stayed on the bus. As it rounded the street by a building resembling a huge black and white wave, another rounded with a point on one side black building and several other unique very photographic buildings we disembarked. Esplanade Park was next.

We rushed into the train station....and went to find bus # 40. Yes bus # 40. Through the train station and along a covered walkway we went to where the buses leave the center of town.

Today we left Helsinki on rte 4/E75 heading north through lake dotted landscape, gentle rolling hills...similar to the Laurentians. There was lots of rock....granite streaked with feldspar...pines, spruce and birch. Logging slashes were seen....and not a tree left standing. Brush and logs were sorted and piled awaiting trucks....all is used. We passed by farms with creamy yellow to yellow houses and dark red outbuildings. Cabins dotted lakeshores. Lakes were big and small. Rest stops were few and far between. We had coffee at a log cabin restaurant.

We could see Jyvaskyla across the lake....a ver modern city. It is the main city for this area. Alver Aalto is a famous architect. He is designed some of the buildings around we went into see. He went to Italy returning and building between 1949 and 1952. We saw the town hall with its inner courtyard and another also designed by Aalto. Both were yellow with rounded gables and dark brown trim.

We carried on and stopped about 20 kms northwest for lunch...soup and salad.

Many more lakes were sprinkled throughout on this leg of our journey.

About 1/2 way from Jyvaskyla to Oulu we saw bells, all sizes of bells on the side of the road. Of course we stopped. They were discarded church bells someone has collected and displayed in front of 2 restaurants. Little hand bells fill the windowsills, sit on shelves and are..well, everywhere. After exploring, we went on down the road or is it up?

Closer to Oulu the land flattened and huge farms growing grains appeared. We spotted a dairy farm too.

Lots of swans and a large grey black crane or heron were spotted along with snow geese, a dead badger and smaller birds. Sea gulls have black heads. There's also a crow like bird sporting a grey hankerchief hat.

We arrived in Oulu at 5.30p, had a quick supper and went for a walk to the waterfront. It is a very walkable town. We found the harbour and the canal. We spotted the policeman statue and some neat buildings. It seems a young peoples' town. We saw no older people. Lots were about. The weather is warm and sunny.

It was 8p when we crossed a small park and returned to our hotel.

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