Saturday, August 01, 2015

MSC Orchestra: Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki (hell-sink-ee), Finland is one of the few places in Europe I would love to go back to. It was the 3rd port on our Baltic Sea cruise. After a day and a half at Sea, Drew and I were excited to be getting off the ship and in Finland! Just like the last couple ports we weren't sure what we were going to do. So we followed the crowd of people, we were herded through a little bazaar area with little shops, we decided that we would check it out on our way back. Once out of the tent, there were Hop On Hop Off buses waiting to take us into the port. The cruise ship was offering a shuttle bus into Helsinki for 30 euros a person. We decided that it was cheaper and smart to go with the HOHO bus, at least we got a tour out of it too. Since we only had 6 hours in Helsinki we wanted to anything and everything we possibly could. Unfortunately we didn't (But one day we'll be back!)

Helsinki is called the "Daughter of the Baltic", Helsinki is located on the tip of a peninsula and on 315 islands. Helsinki was established as a trading town by King Gustav I of Sweden in 1550 as the town of Helsingfors, which he intended to be a rival to the Hanseatic city of Reval (today known as Tallinn). Czar Alexander I of Russia moved the Finnish capital from Turku to Helsinki in 1812 to reduce Swedish influence in Finland, and to bring the capital closer to St. Petersburg.
Till this day you can see the Russian Influence on Helsinki. Till this day there's even a statue of Czar Alexander I in front of their Parliament building!
We rode the the HOHO bus around the town for a little bit. We got off at the main square. They had a little market going on. We browsed for a bit before walking around.
Since we only had 6 hours in Helsinki we wanted to try to do everything possible. Of course that's not what happened. We walked around finding the important land marks of Helsinki.

There are a lot of Cathedrals in Helsinki, the first one we found was, the Uspenski Cathedral. The Cathedral is set upon a hillside on the Katajanokka peninsula overlooking the city. On the back of the cathedral, there is a plaque commemorating Russian Emperor Alexander II, who was the sovereign of the Grand Duchy of Finland during the cathedral's construction. Main cathedral of the Finnish Orthodox Church in the diocese of Helsinki, Uspenski Cathedral is claimed to be the largest orthodox church in Western Europe

One of the most famous points of Helsinki is the Helsinki Cathedral. It is a distinctive landmark in the Helsinki cityscape, with its tall, green dome surrounded by four smaller domes, the building is in the neoclassical style. It was designed by Carl Ludvig Engel as the climax of his Senate Square layout: it is surrounded by other, smaller buildings designed by him.
The church's plan is a Greek cross (a square centre and four equilateral arms), symmetrical in each of the four cardinal directions, with each arm's façade featuring a colonnade and pediment. Engel originally intended to place a further row of columns on the western end to mark the main entrance opposite the eastern altar, but this was never built.

Statue of Czar

I have to tell you how expensive Helsinki was. Most of Scandinavia is expensive. Be prepared for that.Most of our adventures Drew likes to find the Hard Rock Cafe, it wasn't any different this time. We found the HRC, Drew took his picture in front of it, and we were trying to decide where to grab some food. For some reason we decided to eat at the HRC.  The food wasn't bad. They even had a little HRC red carpet area where you could take your picture (Of course we took advantage of it)

We got to walk around for a bit and check out the sites. But by the time we finished lunch we had just enough time to buy some souvenirs (Drew NEEDED a Viking Stein) and then head back to the bus. The Port was about an hour walk away from the city and the HOHO last bus to the port was at 4pm. We made it just in time.

I wish we would've had more time in Helsinki, there is a church called the Rock Church because it's made out of Rocks, we didn't get the chance to check it out, but maybe next time. For the most part Helsinki was a nice city. You can see the Russian influence in the city, but by the time we made it back to the ship, I was so excited that we were going to be in Russia the next day!