Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Helsinki - The home of Nokia

The home of Nokia it is, but I won't know if everyone uses Nokia here or if there way anyone that switch over to dark side (i.e. Samsung, LG, Kyocera).

But one thing I do notice, is that everyone here in Helsinki loves to use their mobile phone very much.

They talk on mobile phone when walking the dog, they sms while in the tram, figiting keypad driving single handedly in a car. I am overwhelmed by how much mobile phones play a part in the people's life here! I never felt that way when I was in US nor did it feels the same way when I was back in Melbourne. American's are really no so much into mobiles in reality when compare to Finns. Actually come to think of it, it was the same back in Stockholm and later Oslo and Copenhagen as well.


We quickly checked into the nearby Eurohostel after we came out from the Mariella cruise ship. Location of Eurohostel is really good, whereby it is a 5 min walk from port to there. There is also a tram station right at the corner junction next to the hostel. Trams depart every 10 minutes, straight all the way down to city center (10min). So everything is really convinient here. Didn't take any pics of Eurohostel, but if you are there, you should really check that bomb-shelter-cum-fridge like looking elevator. Open your door like how you'd open the fridge and get it. It's weird!

We have only stayed here for 1 night. But I guess for
newcomers like us, 1 night is really enough to see the town center. Just walk walk and take pictures here and there. We bought ourselves the HKL Tourist Ticket (matkailijalippu) (1 day €6, 3 days €12 or 5 days €22) which was fair deal, and not as expensive as the Helsinki Pass. The Helsinki pass is really not suitable as we don't have time to use the Helsinki museum entry that comes with it.



Stopped by at the Russian Orthodox Uspensky Cathedral. Its visible even from far with its golden domes. Nicer to look is the interior deco, looking small inside but painfully decorated with patterns, flowers gold trimmings all over the place.




Walked around at the open market near the primer minister's office, pretty lame with few stores just there to earn tourist $$. We bought a few fruits and veg here, not so fresh after all. Not recommended if you wanted to see local people buy stuffs. Heard there's another really big indoor market quite worthwhile on the other hand but didn't really bother checking that out.









Mom stopped by at a boat selling salmon's delight. At first I was expecting just another trader selling smoke and cured dried fish. A girl that came on a bicycle then introduce my mom to the pan friend salmon fish patties which was surprisingly quite savory and tasty. Lightly peppered and packed wit loads of salmon tasting.

Then was just walking around the city center, comprising the Esplanade, Aleksi shopping street, etc.










Also past by was the Helsinki Cathedral (Tuomiokirkko) on the Senaatintori Square (Senate Square), apparently a Lutheran church. Didn't go in, cause did not know it is a church. Thought was a parlimen some kind of serious formal set up since the prime minister office was just a around the corner somewhere.




Was wondering what's another Da Vinci Code doing here really. Anyone to enlighten me?



Next day, we went to The Church in the Rock (Temppeliaukion kirkko, literally Temple Square Church).


Perhaps for stirring attention, the found this piece of big rock, and then the carved the whole church into it. This place even have pipe organ too, though it look a little too modern setting around. I would say the acoustic sounding must be very good as the shape of the church is circular.



I wanted to go to the Sibelius park to take some pics with that organ-like monument. But time was really running out as we were to catch a flight back to Stockholm later in the evening. Perhaps next time, in the many years to come I will complete this.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Viking Cruise - Over night to Helsinki from Stockholm

As we started dragging down the bags into that old elevator, I was wanting to tell the folks to call for a taxi and get us to the ferry terminal. From what we see just now near the royal palace, where the ship's docked seemed very far away.

Alas, my dad think the weather is good and decided that we should really stretch our feet a little. You know, that exercise do you a lot of good theory.

That small little exercise turns out to be more like a 35min long drag, with so much cars and buses, truck passing us by stirring so much dust from the nearby construction. *Cough*

Anyways, we quickly went redeemed our ticket from the terminal counters. There were already many people hanging around the lobby waiting to get into the Viking ship. Apart from Viking, there were few others ship docked here too, going places like Turku, Mariehem, Estonia or so.




Getting to Helsinki via the overnight ferry is really more like an excuse to buy booze. Seeing in both Norway and Stockholm both have heavy taxes on alcoholic drink, cruise operators like Viking strikes the idea to sell tax free liquors on board to attract people to come travel with them. It is not just here, more like a whole Europe thing really.







But we had fun here really, from listening people singing their type of Russian tune in the Karaoke, be fed with local popular fare, admiring the islands that pass our window non stop whole night, up till figuring out how to lower down the upper bunk bed in our room. Not so different with our Star Cruise, but packed with loads more local flavor definitely!







Roast Pork, Pan fried salmon, very good sausages, Spanish seafood paella (taste strange, my mom say its Chinese fried rice), Smoke salmon hiding behind, some creamy potatoes

Boiled rice (how odd!), Smoke salmon, cold meat cuts, stirr fry veg, shrimp salad, and that thing with inside the bread is liver pate.

More cold cuts - Comprises of mostly raw fish, smoke salmon, vinaigrette mackerels, small mussel salad

The next day, I woke up to a really old looking light house. This straight away took my thoughts far far away, remembering there was this tale that a light house caretaker struggle the great storm to make sure the light house's fire was not put off, as there was a ship carrying someone sick and needed to dock urgently. The light house must've look like this : small, with bright lights in the night, together with its caretaker living a lonely isolated life... alas!



We quickly ate breakfast, and this morning again our breakfast was taken cared off. Large variety of breakfast to choose from, various bacon streaks, hams, cheese, salmon again, bread, smörg bread (cracker looking biscuit). Knowing ourselves being surrounded with more expensive spending ahead, my mom even decided to pack sandwiches for lunch, erm, and the cheese, and sausages, as well as uncountable number of Swedish meatballs. Yum!

Breakfast at Mariella - Very good variety of bread loafs, with smoke salmon and cold cut again.

Typical Scandinavian breakfast? Or issit Finnish breakfast? Swedish meatballs, sausage, pan friend cubed ham, egg salad, savory bland pancakes. That thing in the middle is a badly flatten potato that is bake till too dry.

Finally we docked, ran up to the upper deck took few pictures of the surrounding.



Then we packed our stuffs and left the Mariella with a gloomy day ahead of us... but hey, Welcome to Helsinki!