The day began early again, as we docked in Helsinki at 7am. It is becoming a little tricky to drag everyone out of bed after our gruelling schedule! We got off our ship in the heavy fog, and on to a Hop On Hop Off bus, where we journeyed around to the Sibelius pipes (built to commemorate the composer’s life) and a church built into the surrounding rock. The church was interesting, with a beautiful copper roof. Tim decided to give Matthew a rest from touring, and spent the morning in the playground near the church with him while the rest of our party kept touring. We found out later that Matthew made friends with a local 2 year old at the playground, and he and Tim were invited by this child’s dad’s home back to their apartment for a traditional Finnish morning tea and play. Matthew loved it so much that he cried when they left. Tim described it as a ‘unique’ experience!
Meanwhile, our bus took us back down to the harbour where we enjoyed a coffee/tea inside the market. We were amazed to see foods such as reindeer pie, elk meat, bear grease, and pulled moose meatballs! By this time, the sun had come out, and we had a lovely wander along the waterfront in the sunshine. The architecture of some buildings here is quite similar to St Petersburg – Helsinki was owned by the Russians for some time. There are some beautiful gardens around right in the centre of the city. Our bus took us back to the cruise ship via some lovely parks right next to the water. With all the boats in the glittering sea, it was most picturesque. We did not have long to spend today in port, as the boat leaves for Stockholm this afternoon at 3:30pm, but it was a good taste of what Finland has to offer.