Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Sunset in Helsinki

The keen observer will notice that today's title is a tautology - Helsinki does actually mean sunset in Finnish. But who will understand this language, if not the Finnish...? There is so much öö and ää in it, and it doesn't resemble to anything we might have learned.
But we are not there yet, the morning is a silent, viewless gliding across a flat foggy pond, mild, devoid of any visual disturbance. The ship is an island which could be anywhere. Only the bridge knows where we are, but that's ok, we still have lectures to listen to, books to read.
As the sun gathers strength, the mist lifts and like a curtain that rises for a play we are suddenly under a blue sky, just in time to welcome the pilot, who will be our guide in these foreign waters, until we reach the harbor entrance of Helsinki. Narrow it is, lined with pretty houses, curiously parked submarines, and cannons, remnants of several wars. 
We make fast right next to the old market hall, practically in the middle of the city. So everything is close by, an opportunity used by most of us who enjoy a sunshine stroll in a city with a most peculiar mix of architecture; post-communist buildings are planted next to delicate Jugendstil structures and modern galleries. Coffee houses invite as well as beer gardens, and the young generation - which is the largest part of the Helsinki population - hangs out leisurely in squares and parks, on steps and statues. 
A very summerly feeling is this, but it's the reward for months and months of winterly chill and cold winds.

The days only excursion starts later on and has two parts: Firstly, a very instructive ride through the whole town, with a few remarkable stops to see the main attractions like the Sibelius monument and the Dome. Then we are invited to the German Church, where two very capable young artists spoil us with a selection of said Sibelius' fine music, evoking a feeling for the vastness that is all around us and easily forgotten in this nice place.
Everybody is back on board, the lines are cast and we sail into a really scenic Hel Sinki...