Monday, August 22, 2011

Helsinki, August 22 - Suomenlinna

We spent the first part of the day on Suomenlinna ("castle of Finland") (no actual castle), which was originally built as a Swedish fort.  Suomenlinna has a history as rich as Finland's -- see the wikipedia link above.

Many of the original fortifications are in place, and others have been faithfully restored.  Today, a few hundred Finns also live on the island year-round, commuting to mainland Helsinki by short ferry ride or (in case of emergency) under-sea tunnel.  We enjoyed strolling the island.  We also had a nice chat with an older Latvian-American couple on a long trip themselves.  Chuckling, they encouraged us to spend a lot of money in Riga once we got there.

Suomenlinna's drydock was particularly impressive, and was considered very large at the time of consturction.  Be sure to stare at the first picture for a second to get the perspective right; that is NOT a small boat!

After returning from Suomenlinna, Lauren and I stopped at local vegetarian restaurant Zucchini, where we got a bit of a break from the meat+potatoes fare.  We napped and wandered through the rest of the afternoon, before joining the rest of the KWEST group for a Belgian dinner (and a few Chimays) at Belge, and then some partying at the local Butterfly Bar.  Lauren and I had less party stamina than many of her new classmates, but everyone had a great time.