Happy Labor Day to my American darlings out there! In my lone act of labor this weekend, and in an attempt to distract myself from handbag hari kari, I'm bringing you even more photos from my
not-so- recent Baltic getaway.
We sailed from St. Petersburg to the idyllic seaside capital of Finland, Helsinki. Upon reaching port, we took off to hike around the countryside . . .
This is an unretouched photo; the sky really was that blue, and the grass that verdant. Finland was only recently urbanized, and so the Finns have strong ties to countryside retreats such as this. Given the natural beauty, it's easy to see why.
A view from our hike, which ended with a typically Finnish sauna (a Finnish word, by the way).
After our hike, we returned to meander around Helsinki. More than 20% of the country's only 5 million people live in the area; the laid-back layout and feel of the capital city reflects this recent urbanization.
We rambled along the port and stumbled across this farmer's market, a colorful mix of locals, tourists, and of course delicious looking produce . . .
A Russian Orthodox church & good representation of the melting pot of cultures and languages that comprise Finland. The country was occupied by Sweden for hundreds of years, followed by Russia, and the influence of those cultures was evident throughout. Note the street signs; all were in both Finnish and Swedish, the two official languages of Finland.
Some countries top their buildings with menacing gargoyles; in Finland, it's . . . a fuzzy little bear. This symbolized the remarkably safe, peaceful feel of the town to me; although this is a typical feeling in the orderly Nordic cities I've visited, never have I felt so safe wandering around a foreign (or US, for that matter) city.
Next - and final, pinky swear! - stop, Stockholm . . .
For previous posts in this travel series: