Finland

The flight on SAS from Stockholm to Helsinki involved a smaller jet and would allow carry on luggage weighing only 8 kg (18 lbs)!  Mine was slightly over, so i put my computer in a handbag and transferred a few items (toiletries) to Jessica’s bag and checked it at a cost of about $50!

Helsinki, the capital of Finland is a city still trying to find its own identity after nearly 100 years of independence.  Currently, the main parts are under massive renovation and updating in preparation for 2017 Finland centennial of independence as well as celebrating 500 years since Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the church door.  With Finlanders identifying as 73% Lutheran this is certainly appropriate.  Having been under Russian rule for several years, the architecture and ‘feel’ of the city still has that look and feel.  Their history, however, reveals a tug of war between Russia and Sweden, and occasionally the Danes jumped in.

 

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Helsinki Cathedral

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Bridge of Love in Finland
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Uspenski Cathedral – Russian Orthodox
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Inside the Uspenski Cathedral
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Rock Church in Helsinki, Finland
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Suomenlinna Fortress
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Vallisaari – Newly opened island to the public – former military site.
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Standing in the Gulf of Finland – Baltic Sea on the coast of Suomenlinna

 

More recent history tidbits include:

From 1906 Finnish women were also allowed to vote. Finland was the first European country and the third in the world, after New Zealand and Australia to allow women to vote in national elections. Furthermore in 1907 Finnish women became the first in the world to win seats in a national parliament.

Before the Second World War the main occupation in Finland was agriculture. Since 1945 metalworking, engineering and electronics industries have grown but Finland is still less industrialized than the other Scandinavian countries. The main resource of Finland is timber.

In 1995 Finland joined the EU. In 1999 Finland joined the Euro. Finland suffered badly in the recession of 2009 but eventually recovered.

Meanwhile in 2000 Tarja Halonen was elected the first woman President of Finland. In the same year Helsinki celebrated its 450th anniversary. Today the population of Finland is 5.4 million.

Finland is known for its number of lakes and lays very flat.

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National Library of Finland 
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One of our fine dining experiences – Kappeli Cafe Bar Restaurant established in 1867 located near the wharf on Esplanadi in Helsinki.  Great service, exquisit presentation, and food was delicious.  I had elk meatballs with lingonberries and a glass of the suggested wine pairing.  Eating at a nice place required about $45-$50 per person with one drink and we did not order the most expensive offerings.

Trondheim, Norway

What a lovely city – third largest in Norway and the surrounding area known as the breadbasket of the country since most of the food crops are produced around this area.  Not counting coffee of course, though Norway is the second largest consumer of coffee!

We arrived via Kong Harald Hurtigruten ferry boat from Bergen (yeah, these are totally out of order, but just lazy) about 9am, found our Airbnb guest house just a 13 minute walk from the harbour.  Got settled in, then headed for the Nidaros Cathedral, The Archbishop’s Palace Museum, The Crown Regalia, and The Armoury.  We managed to arrive at such time to watch a filming of an upcoming local show, view the Crown Regalia, then attend the 25 minute English speaking tour of the Cathedral at noon, then enjoy a 25 minute organ recital played on the 1739 Wagner organ at 1pm, climbed the tower at 1:30 tour, then off for the 2pm tour of the Archbishop’s Palace.  Worked out very well.  We have no inside photos since they are not allowed.

After a short rest, we were ready for the evening adventure.  We walked along the very popular harbour which was abuzz with bar hoppers and masses of people enjoying great food in the many restaurants.  We continued on, however, to Kristiansten Fortress which was only 1.8 kilometers from our apartment.  Many of the area attractions are close in to within walking distance of the harbour.

We certainly could have used at least one more day here in Trondheim.  Especially with mid August being shoulder season and some of the attractions open late and/or close early.  There were a couple attractions that would require grabbing the bus and going out of town that i would have liked to have included.

We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have clear skies and warm temperatures here.  The high yesterday was 62 and today is forecasted 72!  Alas, we are headed for the train station about 9a to catch our flight back to Oslo for another short visit.

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View from our lovely fully equipped two bedroom apartment booked through Airbnb.
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Evening gathering places packed with tourists and locals alike – just a couple minutes from our apartment – easy walk.

 

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The walk to Kristiansted Fortress included a short, but very steep hill.  Bicyclists could pay a few bits and be pulled up by this contraption. We had to capture this fellow managing it with some hilarity because apparently he had to be on the phone.

 

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Kristiansten Fortress – An absolute must visit – we went in the evening and stay until past sunset, but photos taken in the morning from here would yield stunning vistas of the town and harbour. History: It was built after the city fire of Trondheimin 1681 to protect the city against attack from the east. Construction was finished in 1685. It fulfilled its purpose in 1718 when Swedish forces laid siege against Trondheim. The fortress was decommissioned in 1816 by king Charles XIV John.

 

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Nidaros Cathedral
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View from tower of Nidaros Cathedral.  For an extra 40 kr, one can climb the 172 narrow steps for stunning views of the city.  Walk all the way around the top for 360 degree vista!  As you can see, we had a stunning day for this activity!
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Daughter, Jessica, enjoying the view from top of Nidaros Cathedral.