We have been working our way north. Me from Amsterdam and Joan and I together from Copenhagen. We’ve now reached the northernmost part of this journey…just a few degrees below the artic circle. Helsinki is smaller than the other cities we have visited and it has proved to have one of the most impossible languages I’ve ever encountered. But the people are warm and friendly and for the most part speak English, sometimes more reluctantly than in other Scandinavian cities.
Finland has an interesting history as it was an autommonus section of Russia until the early 1900s. So you see today ornate Russian Orthodox churches mixed in the the austere Lutheran churches that most Finns attend today. Notwithstanding all that, it is still very European and we were glad to be back in the land of the Euro, a currency that we both understand better and can make a quick calculation in our head.
Frankly, there aren’t a lot of sights to see here but that doesn’t seem to keep the numbers of tourists at bay. The Chinese especially seem to love it here.
One of the most interesting things we’ve done here is meet up with an acquaintance of Joan’s who was a Finnish diplomat before she retired five years ago. She took us on a quick tour of the center of Helsinki and then to lunch. It was fascinating to get her unguarded perspective on current world events. And she is certainly not impressed with the current US administration (ahem, the put it lightly).
Today we took a ferry ride over to a nearby island which was once a large fortress created by the Swedes and financed by the French back in the day that they thought Russia had eyes on the west and Finland would be the logical stepping stone. While it was a World Heritage Site, I just didn’t find it that interesting. But I did enjoy the boat ride there and back.
Tomorrow is another ferry ride and arrival in a new counntry, Estonia. It appears that VP Pence will be there at the same time we are, and based on the warning emails we received from our hotel in Tallin, he is even staying in the same hotel! What luck? It could prove to be a pain inn the butt with all the added security.