Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Finland Part 16: My First Day In Helsinki

After a long 12 hour journey on a night train from Rovaniemi, we finally arrived at Helsinki. Neither had I a good sleep nor a proper shower the night before, so I thought I deserve a good breakfast at least.
Our local tour guide was already waiting at Helsinki Railway Station seemingly eager to start his day's duty. It was drizzling and snowing outside making it more daunting a task to pull two luggage across a few stretches of wet streets to our breakfast place.  
It was a pleasant surprise as we were brought to Le Havre Brasserie at Hotel Seurahuone for breakfast. Le Havre Brasserie is the main restaurant of Hotel Seurahuone, a very traditional yet elegant hotel built in the 1820s. Le Havre is extravagantly set up and the good array of delightful cuisines was a real treat that morning.
I couldn't help but admire the ornate and majestic looking decor and architecture of the restaurant.
Breakfast was sumptuous and delectable.

Sightseeing Helsinki
After breakfast we went sightseeing but the rain was a real dampener. We drove past the harbour and the streets of Helsinki and the city looked beautiful even though all I saw was blurred glimpses from the bus window.

Senate Square
Senate Square is a popular Helsinki attraction and the first place we visited. This square and the surrounding area constitute the oldest part of central Helsinki. The panorama of historical buildings surrounding it is indeed a spectacular sight. There are four main buildings that dominated the square and all were designed by a German architect, Carl Ludvig Engel. Located at one corner of the square is the oldest building in Helsinki, Sederholm House which was built in 1757. (In this picture it is the only grey building sandwiched by blocks of yellow buildings) 
The main building of The National Library Of Finland is one of the four dominant buildings in the square.
A statue of Alexander II, the Tsar of Russia is located at the centre of the square.

Helsinki Cathedral
Among the four main buildings in Senate Square, the most impressive and also the most famous is Helsinki Cathedral. Also known as Lutheran Cathedral, this church was built between 1830-1852 as a tribute to Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. 
 I revisited this cathedral the following day and took this picture when the weather was finer.
Inside Helsinki Cathedral
The cylindrical pulpit and the altar inside Helsinki Cathedral

The Olympic Stadium
The Olympic Stadium of Helsinki is another marvellous architecture. I just admired it from afar as we made a pit stop just to view this building across the stadium ground.

Sibelius Monument
Sibelius Monument is a very creative and unique monument in Sibelius Park.
Created by Eila Hiltunen in honour of the national Finnish music composer Jean Sibelius, this monument is a statue of more than 600 steel pipes welded together into an amazing wave-like pattern.
The hollow pipes which are of varying diameters resemble musical organ pipes. Standing directly below it and looking up at various spots is an interesting thing to do here.
Sculpture of Jean Sibellius' face near the monument.

Temppeliaukio Church Aka Rock Church
The Rock Church is a very creative building designed by two brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen. Built inside a giant block of natural granite, this church is used for functions like weddings, funerals, baptism and concerts.
The church is covered by a copper-lined dome, and has 180 vertical window panes connecting the dome and the rocky granite walls which allow light to shine through. 
The copper-lined dome roof.
The rugged granite walls.
The impressive vertical window panes

Helsinki Souvenirs
Helsinki is a great place to pick up Finnish souvenirs. 
I visited Anne's Shop at Fredrikinkatu 68, just across Rock Church.
Spent some time admiring some authentic Finnish souvenirs but by Malaysian standard, they are pretty expensive.
The eyes were well feasted but I didn't buy anything.

Lunch At Helkan Keittio, Helka Hotel
Had lunch at a restaurant in Helka Hotel. The chef must have been in a hurry as the chicken was not done. Instead of recooking each plate, the chef had them disposed and replaced. Very professional but what a waste!

Check Into Presidentti Hotel 
 We checked into our hotel after lunch and were soon out again.  

Exploring Helsinki
Our bus dropped us near Swedish Theatre. It was supposed to be a free shopping session in downtown but there was something I love to do more than shopping. I was going to walk the streets and admire the cityscape of Helsinki. Helsinki is undeniably beautiful with many astounding buildings built with jaw dropping architecture.

My Photo Gallery
Finnish National Theatre
Helsinki Casino- the only casino in the world that gives all its profit to charity.

Rautatientori Square
The statue of Finnish author, Alexis Kivi at Rautatientori Square

Helsinki Railway Station
Railway Station Building

Ateneum which houses an art museum 
Stockmann Building
A street in Helsinki
Beautiful arrangement of T-shirts into a big star.
A Street In Helsinki

Endless Shopping

A Quieter Street

Historical Buildings
I ventured into a park

I just couldn't get enough of Helsinki's allure and was determined to explore more of it the following day.

Finland Part 7: Cumulus Kemi, My Hotel in Kemi

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