Friday, July 22, 2016

Finland - Driving north toward Norway

Finland is pretty much flat. Driving thru the countryside you see lots of rivers, lakes, and trees, just like the Yukon in Canada. The area above the Arctic Circle is not remote like Canada or Alaska. There are large cities, paved roads, and farms everywhere. It was strange to see large busy cities, cows grazing, and tractors mowing the fields. With 24 hour sunlight for 2 months, crops grow really fast.

Driving thru the countryside. Birch trees and wild flowers are everywhere.

We did a long walk around Rovaniemi. The city is surrounded by rivers and lakes so there were lots of bridges and water views.

Lumberjack's Candle Bridge

A garden along the path next to Kirkkolampi Pond.

A public rug washing station. Cleaning your rugs is a very popular thing to do after a long winter.

Milepost in Lordi's Square - Shows the distance to the Polar Circle is 8 km.

 Another Park4Night free camping spot at a trail head.

Picnic shelters and cooking fire pit at the trail head. We saw these a lot.

 A boardwalk path out to a bird observation tower next to a lake.The ground is very wet. 

Helsinki Finland

We arrived in Helsinki via a car ferry from Tallinn Estonia. We had a smooth crossing and a warm sunny day. The route entering Helsinki Harbor was thru a narrow channel between a couple of outlying islands. It looked like we could almost reach out and touch the shore. 

We met up with our friend JoAn from the USA and spent the day walking around before the three of us left for St. Petersburg. Helsinki is a growing, busy city and we enjoyed it very much. There was construction everywhere, roads and buildings. The day we arrived there was an old US car cruise and show in the Market Square. Traffic was a nightmare. The next day was the first day of Gay Pride Week. Senate Square was packed. It was the starting point for the parade that made walking around the city a challenge. Our introduction to Helsinki was pretty wild.

We rode on the top deck of the ferry in the warm sun all the way from Tallinn.

View of our ferry leaving Helsinki from Suomenlinna.

The narrow channel the ferry past thru between Suomenlinna and Vallisaari 

Senate Square - The starting point for the Gay Pride parade. The square was packed. It was difficult to move thru the crowds.

We took a free walking tour which started in Senate Square. Even with a moose hat our guide did not stand out in the crowds of people.

Helsinki Cathedral in Senate Square.

Market Square - Monday thru Saturday it is filled with booths selling souvenirs, food, and fresh produce.

Kamppi Chapel - A wooden Lutheran Church completed in 2012

Inside Kamppi Chapel

Temppeliaukio Church or Rock Church. It is built into solid rock. The roof is made of copper.

Inside the Rock Church

We took a ferry out to Suomenlinna, a sea fortress on a group of islands off the coast of Helsinki. This is Suomenlinna Center Quay.

Part of the sea fortress walls.

JoAn exploring the fort.

 We visited the Design Museum. These are all Finnish designed chairs.
Poni designed by Eero Aarnio. This was one of many displays that were on a robotic platform. They moved freely around the floor.

Patti and a Moomin - a popular character from a series of books in Finland. 

 Helsinki harbor views.

Monday, July 18, 2016

St Petersburg, Russia

We were hampered by the weather while in St. Peteresburg. It unfortunately rained a lot of the time. We met our friend JoAn in Helsinki and the three of us took a ferry cruise to St. Petersburg. We arrived the next morning after cruising all night. We checked into our hotel which was right in the middle of everything. We really lucked out with our choice. The first thing we did was walk around taking in all the sights. We were lucky, the rain had not started yet. By dinner it was pouring and it rained for pretty much the rest of the trip. The first night, which was really the next morning, we took the night canal tour that started at 1:00 AM to watch the bridges open. The bridges open every night to let ships pass through the city. In spite of the rain, it was beautiful. The next day we visited the Hermitage. The museum is huge and packed with tourists. We got lost just trying to find an exit. The last day we took in more sights then headed for the overnight ferry back to Helsinki. The rain slowed us down, but we still had a wonderful time.

The ferry to St. Petersburg

Arriving in St. Petersburg

The Canal Boat Trip - Tour boats were everywhere. They all race to each bridge as it opens so the passengers can watch.

Views around St Petersburg after the canal boat tour. It was about 3:00  AM. Normally it would be light out, but the rain gave us dark skies. The lights of the city were so much better.

The Hermitage

Palace Square

A canal view

Russian Doll planter.

Palace square in the daylight and pouring down rain.

The Hermitage in daylight and pouring down rain.

They had a fabulous fashion display in the museum.

There was a huge room of armour.

Winter Palace rooms in the Hermitage were amazing.

Cold beet root soup. I have tried it several times. Every time it has been a little different, but all very good.

Kazan Cathedral

Inside Kazan Cathedral

Church on Spilled Blood

 Canal Views

Buildings along a canal

Sidewalk cafe

My souvenir from Russia, a badly needed haircut. A new style that I like a lot. Hope I can get it duplicated.

We are in Norway, above the Arctic Circle now. I still have Finland to post to the blog. It has become hard to find internet so I am behind on posting. Just wanted to say that Norway is BEAUTIFUL!!! Everyone needs to add it to their must see list.