Sunday 26 February 2012

Helsinki-The Pocket Sized Metropolis Where East & West Blend

Tuomiokirkko Cathedral, The Symbol of Helsinki
Situated on the Baltic sea, Helsinki is the capital of the Republic of Finland and was declared the World Capital Of Design for 2012 because of the country's stress on incorporating innovative  design in all aspects to life and also because design has always been integral to Finnish life style.Finnish brands like Iittala Glass, Marimekko Fabric and Arabia Finland are found in almost all Finnish homes and Nokia Mobile Phones can be found with  almost 50% of the world population.  Helsinki is a modern European city of culture that is famous especially for its design and high technology. In 2000 Helsinki celebrated it 450 years  and was officially declared the European City of Culture. Finnish Design has made Helsinki famous attracting architecture and design fans from all over the world. All the above make Helsinki a top destination among the places to travel in the Scandinavian countries.


Helsinki Harbour Cruise, Finland
Helsinki is spread across a number of bays and peninsulas and over a number of islands.The sea is an essential part of the personality of Helsinki.The city  is best explored by boat and the cruise takes you around  capital's oldest districts, famous historical buildings, churches, monuments, enormous ice-breakers, and the largest naval fortress in the world, Suomenlinna. In winter the harbour freezes over and the Ice breakers swing into action to keep the harbour open. The ice is at places more than 10feet thick and the Finns dive through ice holes into the water below the ice for a swim to warm themselves.The water is at a temp of 4 degC while the air outside is -35 deg C.The swim is preceded by a sauna bath and followed by a meal of sausage and Karhu beer.
Large Cruise Ships Docked at Helsinki
The Silja line is a Finnish Cruiseferry operating between the Capitals of the Baltic. It carries 3 million passengers and 200,000 cars annually. There is a minor traffic jam outside the terminal when the cars get off and on the ships. Ship building is a major industry in Finland. The world's largest luxury cruise ship,Oasis of the Seas was built in Finland. 16 Storey's high the ship had a displacement of 225000 tons and had 12000 plants-real trees-to bring a feel of nature to the steel structure.
Viking Line Cruise Ship, Helsinki

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The Viking Line combines the  two Nordic capitals – Helsinki and Stockholm – by cruising the world’s largest archipelago, between Finland and Sweden. The luxury cruises from Helsinki  to Oslo  and Stockholm offer high-quality cabins (all with shower and toilet), several restaurants and bars, nightclubs with live entertainment, discos, casinos, saunas and swimming pools.
Luxury Cruise Ship Viking Line, Helsinki
One can enjoy the famous Scandinavian Buffet on board which is traditional,plentiful and has special emphasis on freshly caught fish prepared in traditional finish style.Starters include Cold smoked halibut marinated with tomatillo and pineapple, chicken breast roasted with coffee beans, mango chutney and Main Course includes  Minicrabs au gratin in their shells, Chicken fillet with lime and cocoa topped with desserts like Orange pannacotta etc. A sea journey over the Baltic is a unique and unforgettable experience.
Polished Stone Fountain in Helsinki Main City Square
The Old Market Square in Helsinki  is a central square bordered by the Baltic in the south.It is a major market and a tourist attraction in the city.There are many street vendors selling Finnish delicacies,ice cream and beer giving the whole place a festive look.

Main Square, Helsinki
 Major cruise start from the Main Square and also ferries to the various islands which make up Helsinki.The sea gulls at the main square have become quite bold and aggressive and often snatch food and ice creams from the hands of children.

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The Rock Church Helsinki
In line with Helsinki being the Capital of Design, the Rock Church  Helsinki is an innovative design as the church is built into solid rock, therefore, it is also known as the Church of the Rock.The Rock Church is a thrilling work of modern architecture. The underground Church is built inside of a massive block of natural granite in the middle of an ordinary residential square.The Rock Church is invisible from the outside with only the copper dome poking out of the top.From the top it looks like a Space saucer is lodged in the ground.The Rock Church is a major tourist place in Helsinki.   

Inside the Church Of The Rock Helsinki
The inside of the Church of  the Rock is circular in shape and the walls are made of raw granite. The ceiling is made of coper wire.The  church is lit with natural light which comes in through 180 window panes connecting the walls to the dome.The acoustics are excellent so much so that sometimes concerts are held here.

Midsummer Festival, Helsinki
Midsummer or Juhannus is when the shortest night of the year occurs and the longest day is ahead. Celebrated in commemoration of St. John, Midsummer centers upon the period of summer solstice  when put up poles embellished with ribbons and flowers. This tradition is one of Finland's most important events. It is also Finland's National Flag Day.It is celebrated on the saturday between 20th and 26th June.

Ferry To Naval Fortress at Suomenlinna, Helsinki
Helsinki was a small unknown town until Sweden decided to build a naval fortress at Suomenlinna for protection from the Russians.The huge number of workers and their supporters started the economic activity and the foundation of Helsinki was laid.
Entrance at Helsinki Fortress Suomenlinna
The fortress of Suomenlinna succeeded in its purpose until one year the sea froze over and Russians walked over and captured Suomenlinna and Finland.Under the Russians Suomenlinna fortress became a lively garrison town and Finland also developed.Today Suomenlinna is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Finland's top tourist places.It is also a district of Helsinki with a permanent population of 800.

Buildings Inside the Suomenlinna Castle Helsinki
There is a movie theatre inside the fortress and movies about the Fortress are shown which include old photographs and film clips, so that the visitors can get a visual feel about the actual happenings at that time. There are some excellent clips of the actual attacks and the happenings.

Esplanade Park ,Helsinki
Esplanade Park   is located between two main streets and surrounded by beautiful Neo-Renaissance buildings, which replaced the old wooden houses in the latter half of the 19th century.There are many fountains and statues of Finnish Poets.There are plenty of Cafes, a couple of restaurants and souvenir shops, and most of the time a lively, loud and melodious concert is going on. The park has plenty of lawns and benches to sit on, plus ice-cream kiosks and beer bars.It is an interesting place to spend a lazy afternoon.

Among the Night Clubs Studio 51 is huge and good but The Arctic Bar ,at a temp of -5deg C is more thrilling.You get gloves upon entering. For Adult entertainment the Club Alcatraz  Helsinki is a good choice. The artistes seem to have undergone ballet training and do the pole dance act quite expertly. Ladies pay 2 Euro and Gentlemen 12 Euro for entrance.

Helsinki is called a pocket sized metropolis with a perfect blend of East and West. East from decades of Russian rule and West from its parent country Sweden.   


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