Hidden Valley Waterfall

Hidden Valley Waterfall

Monday, August 19, 2013

Helsinki, Finland

So, I've made it over half way through the Scandinavian countries at this point in time. Although I am sticking to just the capital cities, there is one thing they all have in common. They are all expensive! Haha. And this continues to prove true for Helsinki.

Although I didn't find that there was as much to do in this capital as some of the others, there were some sights that you can't find anywhere else. I'll start with my absolute favorite - the Sibelius Monument. This was built in honor of one of Finland's renowned composers. It is made to look like a pipe organ and it is absolutely one of the coolest monuments I have ever seen! See for yourself how detailed and beautiful it is:

Now, Helsinki also has quite a range of churches. The three I am displaying are the three most famous ones. The first is in the Senate Square, which is the focal center of town. It is overwhelmingly large and somewhat intimidating from the outside, but inside, it is almost cold feeling. The walls are a gray and there is little decoration of any sorts at all. It is not very uplifting.  The second, is gorgeous from the outside. And, from what I have seen, it is equally as beautiful inside. I was there on a day of service (no pics allowed), and never made it back to go inside for pictures. This was definitely my favorite of the three. It was very warm feeling. 
The last is called the Rock Church. It is literally a church built into a rock and surrounded by rocks. It's mostly underground and quite different from any other church I have visited. While it isn't overwhelmingly spectacular in decor, etc., it is definitely unique.  

These are some of the views from inside the Rock Church:
 By this time, I had tried the pickled herring, as well as the mustard herring. I must admit that neither of them were half bad. The pickled is preferred over the mustard one though. I had also tried homemade Swedish meatballs. But, nothing was as good as the dish I tried in Finland - smoked reindeer meatballs. YUMMY!! I enjoyed them so much that I went back for them a second time that week. I bought them at the Market Square, which is almost like carnival food vendors outside, but with nice outdoor seating and much better food.  For those who eat venison, they were a lot like that. Sorry the color is off. The orange tent overhead messed with the lighting. And that is a garlic sauce to dip them in on the side. Oh, nom, nom, nom....  : ) 

Market Square is a large area of tourist trap booths, trying to sell everything you can imagine from Finland. And yes, I bought stuff there. Haha. But, not sweaters or anything plastered with snowflakes or reindeer. I like unusual and cutesy things, and I happened to find one of my last day of visiting there. It has a purpose, but I think I'll just let it sit and look cute. 
For those of you not quite sure, it is a nut cracker. You turn up the mushroom top, then screw it back down into the nut!! How cute, right!? Well, I thought so and that is all that matters. It is currently sitting beside my wine rack. I'll buy some roasted nuts this fall/winter and give it a go. 

Finland wasn't as exciting as what I had just come off of in Stockholm. It wasn't bad. But, I would not recommend more than two days here total. Same as in Oslo. There isn't enough to keep you occupied (happily) unless you are doing more of the museums, etc. On the upside, there are ferries that run out of Helsinki on a regular basis to Stockholm, Tallinn (Estonia), and St. Petersburg (Russia), so there are plenty of travel opportunities from here. 

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