Scandinavia – Russia – 2008 – Helsinki Finland

Tues. June 10 – Day 7 – We arrived at Helsinki at nine in the morning. We had signed up for a tour as usual. We are here only for a short time and wish to learn all we can about this beautiful place.

Let me say here that my wife and I always travel in organized tours. They aren’t for everyone. Some people love to drive in foreign countries and go off exploring. More power to them, I say. The guides know all of the history of the places we are visiting and we soon learn about what we are seeing. These trips are a little like boot camp and can get tiring after a few weeks, especially as we age, but I think it is the best way to learn about the sights that you are seeing.

Helsinki is a beautiful place full of history. The Fins fought off the Russians more than once and are rightfully proud of that. The old, wooden town of Helsinki was destroyed in 1828 by fire. The newer buildings of the mid 1800’s of stone are wonderful. Remember the fire of London of 1066? That turned London into a modern stone and brick city.

I worked in construction and have a drafting background, so I can appreciate a well built structure when I see one. I guess that is why I love traveling and seeing truly old buildings around the world. America has nothing on the fine old buildings of Europe. We can build a fine building also, but the age of these are hard for us to fathom.

America is a baby when it comes to architecture. Yes, we have some of the tallest and most interesting buildings, but I think Europe beats us in willingness to try new styles and make their own trends. We now seem to be in a glass block building style, although Gerry and others are making some very interesting contributions to the world’s skyline.

Sweden’s King Gustavus founded Helsinki at the mouth of the Vantaajoki River in 1550. Helsinki is the leading seaport and is kept open year round by ice breakers. It is on the far south end of the peninsula of Finland which reaches into the Gulf of Finland. The city became the capital in 1828 after it was moved from Turku.

Helsinki was a city of military importance being on the Baltic and used as a point of embarkation for troops and a winter haven for the Navy.

The population of Helsinki is 605,523. The population of  Finland is 5.495 million people. The language and the people is related to those in Estonia. It was a trading post and in direct competition to Talin, Estonia in the distant past.

Read my novel, “Sailing Away,” for more history of port cities in the Mediterranean and those on the western Coast of Africa.