Saturday, June 18, 2011

Helsinki, Finland, June 18

Sweden, in the 1700s, was the dominant power in Scandinavia, and
controlled most of the land in Scandinavia. In 1809 Russia took
Finland from Sweden, and in 1917 Finland gained its independence from
Russia. Today we walked around the central part of Helsinki, Finland.
It's clean and prosperous. Public transportation is sleek trains,
trams, and buses. I saw only a few bicycles; very different from
Copenhagen and Stockholm.

We saw the market square (flea market), very nice City Hall, the huge
Lutheran Cathedral, the ornate Russian Orthodox Uspenski Cathedral,
the Central Railway Station, and the Esplanade (Helsinki's top
shopping boulevard). We saw a statue and fountain that caused a bit of
an uproar when it was unveiled in about 1930. It is a nude 19-year-old
woman (not the sculpture's wife) surrounded by several sea lions with
their tongues hanging out. Art is in the eyes of the beholder. We also
saw several "green" displays each showing an old car partially covered
with grass, and with small, old, household appliances around it.

Last night we set our clocks one hour ahead, so we are now in the same
time zone as Cairo and Istanbul (I didn't think we were that far
east). Tonight we set our clocks ahead again, so tomorrow, in St
Petersburg, Russia, we will be in the same time zone as Baghdad,
Kuwait, and Iran.

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