Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Helsinki, Finland

On Monday, 11 August, we docked in Helsinki, Finland. There, my family took our only all-day tour of the trip. Our first stop was in Porvoo, which was founded in 1346 and is the second-oldest town in Finland. I somehow managed to lose my entire family when we arrived, so I spent about an hour wandering around Porvoo in the rain. It was actually really enjoyable - the town was, as one would expect, quaint and quiet with cobblestone streets and colorful buildings. The shopping part of town was pretty touristy, so after buying some uber-delicious chocolate from a shop there, I wandered into the residential section of town and up to a church at the top of a hill.
After eating lunch near Porvoo, we visited an old church on our way back to Helsinki. To me, the most striking thing about the church was the extremely well-tended WWI and WWII memorials that were outside. There were headstones for Finnish soldiers that were killed during the wars as well as a larger headstone for both wars with a list of the names.
Finally, we drove back into Helsinki. There, we visited the Church in the Rock, which is pretty much exactly what you would think - a church built into the side of a large rock face. During a bit of free time at the end, we walked down to the market near the harbor. There were stands everywhere selling all kinds of touristy-items as well as fruits, vegetables, and grilled food. At some point the rainy weather had turned into a beautiful day, and I finally got some nice pictures.

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