I’m going to start today’s post by talking about an interesting confluence related to my trip.

About ten years ago when I was singing with the Esoterics, we performed a wonderful piece by the Finnish composer Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, Canticum Calamitatis Maritimae. He wrote this piece in 1997 in memory of the more than 852 people who were killed when the ferry Estonia, traveling from Tallinn to Stockholm, sank. I was actually the soloist in our performance (and recording) of the piece, and the text I sang was from a news report of the disaster.

The confluence is this:
Continue reading “Day trip to Turku and Naantali”

Pretty much all I did today was walk. Helsinki is a very walkable city, but I really covered a lot of ground today.

Mary and I started out together. We went to Uspenski Cathedral, the main Finnish Orthodox church. It’s normally closed on Mondays, but there was a service going on (about four practitioners, a choir of three voices singing a cappella, and I think five women worshipping), so we were able to stand in the back and listen to the service, smell the incense, and enjoy the music and the ornate iconography. It looks Russian (and the tour guide yesterday referred to it as Russian), which makes sense because it was built originally in 1868, when Finland belonged to Russia.
Continue reading “A lot of walking in Helsinki”

Today was an “Intro to Helsinki” day. Mary and I bought one-day Helsinki Cards, thinking we’d cram as many of the things that are covered by the card as we could into one day. It was a good idea in theory, but there was only so much cramming we could do, especially given that Mary was jet-lagged and that her shoes turned out to be unsatisfactory for walking on cobblestone streets.

The first thing we did was catch a guided bus tour. It picked us up two blocks from our hotel and took us around to see all the main sights. We had two stops along the way. The first was at the Temppeliaukio Church, also known as the Church in the Rock (it was blasted out of solid granite and capped with a copper dome and skylight, and the interior ceiling is a spiral ribbon of copper 13 miles long. Very impressive. (It was built in 1969.)
Continue reading “Helsinki and Suomenlinna”

Saturday, 26 May 19:30

I’m on the ferry, about an hour from docking in Helsinki. We left Tallinn about five minutes before the scheduled sailing time of 18:00, and I’ve been looking for a place to plug in my phone on this boat because I was bad about conserving the battery today. I finally found a spot high up on the wall next to an elevator, so I had to sit on the floor and wait for it to charge enough to where I could unplug it and move to a more comfortable spot for blogging.

I absolutely loved Tallinn. It might be my favorite city I’ve ever been to in Europe. Partly that’s because of things I wrote about yesterday: the cobblestone streets, parks, and overall charm of the old town. But it’s also the people, and not just the people I met, but the spirit of the Estonian people, which I find so inspiring.
Continue reading “Tallinn and arrival in Helsinki”