Rambling in Finland is Something Wonderful

view from the bell tower Turku Finland
This is a view from the bell tower in the oldest church in Turku Finland.

Finland, oh wonderful Finland, how I enjoyed thee! You were less of what I thought you were and so much more of what I’d love to see…

cruise from stockholm to turku
This overnight travel between Stockholm and Turku and was a fairly cost effective and enjoyable way to get to my destination. There was no major entertainment on board that I recall but the buffet was to die for.

I was so fortunate to have been treated more like an adopted family member, than a typical tourist. I was showered with hospitality, food and gifts from the second I stepped onto that big ship, which provided a sunset cruise  from Stockholm to Turku.  The booking system and my budget landed me in a small cabin with three female strangers.  Since I knew neither Swedish nor Finnish, there was a definite language barrier, but the universality of the smile won out in the end. It did help that one of the chefs was a friend of a friend and he provided me with a free buffet that came with all of the wine I could drink… and I did!

When we docked, I was whisked away in a chariot by a dashing man bearing local flowers in bloom. Okay, not really. But I was met by a friend who did his very best to make me feel comfortable amid the many curious looks I received. I guess they weren’t used to seeing “New Yorker’s” up close and in person.  First stop was getting something to eat and the full Finnish experience took off from there.

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It was superstar treatment and even an exclusive tour or two from locals who pointed out the very best their town had to offer. After a darn near heart stopping, huffing and puffing ascent to the highest heights in Turku, which showed me that there is much more to this lovely town than meets the eye, I was able to fully appreciate just how spectacular this part of Finland really was. The sights, the food, the people… all make Finland a necessary stop in the Scandinavian region of Europe.

 

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The last marker after a mega climb to the top of the Turku Cathedral bell tower.
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This enormous cathedral is breathtaking
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Pipe Organ that was as majestically beautiful as the melodic sounds of it.

I don’t know about you, but when I hear Finland, I think cold, snow, and long words with multiple vowels. While all of these things have their own allure, the thought of being in a place that often dips to 40 below 0, and I’m talking Celsius not Fahrenheit, was fairly low on the bucket list. So imagine my surprise when this home to the Suomi people turned out to be one of the most beautiful group of islands I had ever visited.

Giant Daisy
Giant Daisy was on display in Turku near the vibrant canal area. Turku is a quaint but beautiful city that had been previously named the capital of European culture.
An old Finnish ship that is out of commission,! but now on display for everyone to enjoy

I had known absolutely nothing else besides the notoriously long periods of darkness during the cold weather. But, since I visited just in time for the longest day of the year and the celebratory Mid-Summer’s Night Party in the countryside, this archipelago was full of fun, surprises and history.

 

 

Finland Car Ferry
Car Ferry was the transportation from island to island when there were no regular bridges in place. Most run fairly often, but I am sure missing that boat in the winter time is a real pain!
sun setting on the water
Water is everywhere and there is not much that is lovelier than seeing the setting sun cascading over it.
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Sign indicating one of the towns we were in as we waited for another ferry. This one was actually fairly easy to pronounce which was a welcomed change from some of the others.

 

 

Stone Church
One of our stops a few towns away. A really nice old stone community church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Inside the old stone community church where you usually find miniature replicas of ships. Apparently these representations were there kept in the church, so that everyone could send up prayers for the safe return of local seamen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finnish ship replica from local church
ship replica
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The ride to Helsinki was full of open highway and extra fluffy clouds

 

helsinki Cathedral
Helsinki Cathedral in Senate Square

 

 

 

 

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Streets of Helsinki

 

I heard that the Lapland experience is not to be missed but unfortunately that wasn’t something I could swing this first time around. Honestly, I didn’t get to see as much as I would have liked, but greater Turku and Helsinki provided so many amazing glimpses of Finland that I’d definitely love to return someday.