Helsinki and Beyond

We were tourists on Sunday, March 4.  

But first--breakfast.  It was awesome.  Just like in the states the hotel provided a serve yourself breakfast and there was little to want--everything from rolls and fruit to porridge and bacon and eggs.  But the coffee was the best.

The Finns like their coffee, and it is delicious.  Everywhere there seems to be a cappuccino machine that also offers espresso--just push a button. The headache went away.

We toured the city central.  The highlight for me was walking across the frozen Bay of Finland to an island with public facilities.  We could go swimming if we dared.  Later, across from the Presidents house, we saw people doing just that.  Swimming.  It was 20 degrees outside.

The walk took us past many tourist attractions, some of which we will visit when we return to Helsinki at the end of the week.  Our guide filled us in on some history.  Finland was part of Sweden starting in 1249.  The Finns who were there were pagans and the Swedes took it into their heads to bring some Christianity to the heathens.  Then the Russians had there chance starting in the 1800s.  (Helsinki looks like it is halfway between St. Petersburg and Stockholm--you can imagine the allure.)  When the Bolsheviks had their revolution, Finland took advantage of the distraction and declared their independence.  Just last year they celebrated their 100th anniversary.  Meanwhile, they had to play nice with the Russians (and the Nazis) during and after the war--hence the Soviet-style housing.  Interesting fact: lots of movies with a Russian setting have been filmed in Helsinki. (Gorky Park anyone?)  

After eating lunch at a restaurant on the top floor of a downtown shopping mall (not much different from the states here--mostly the same stores) we returned for our bags and walked to the train station.

The very modern and sleek train (Trump is right about that.  This train was way better than any Amtrak I have ridden) took us an hour northwest to the smaller city of Tampere.   More walking with suitcases, dinner, touring.

Total walking for today: 12.3 miles.  My Apple watch was very pleased with my level of activity today. 

Tomorrow we go to school.