Day 4. Friday 17 May. Helsinki.
A slower start after our long day on foot yesterday. Having got the transport system sorted, we took Number 4 Tram to Central Park, which has a lovely lake in the middle, with numerous walking/running/cycling tracks. Stopped at a rustic lakeside café for coffee, to be joined in conversation by a local who thoroughly agreed with T that chocolate on a cappucino was excessive, and who noted that in Belgium they also added cream. Across the lake were some examples of earlier-times wooden Finnish homes.
Wandered on to the Wintergarden (conservatory/hothouse) displaying some fascinating flowers. A group of students, either secondary or college level, were taking innovative photography shots around plants and garden items such as chairs, benches, alcoves etc.
Then headed for ‘Rock’ church, with D confidently navigating. Having walked for about a kilometre, we stopped to re-examine the map, turn it around a few times, and scratch our heads. The street names seemed wrong, and D wondered how the authorities had mucked it up. A policewoman saw our confusion, explained we were heading in entirely the wrong direction, and without any hint of derision sent us in the right direction. She apologized as she rushed back to her duty station, which we shortly saw was part of the traffic control for a foreign dignitary (D thinks the flag was Turkey) being escorted with a large police escort, lights flashing and sirens sounding. Must have been important.
We made it to the Rock Church (Lutheran) and by wonderful chance, found a quiet moment in the tourist day. Described accurately as exemplifying the spiritual essence of Finland (nature, simplicity, beauty)…wow!
Hewn into rock, glass roof allowing for the combination of sky, sun, shadow, birds overhead, a domed ceiling of copper strips and a piano recital… a totally sublime experience. T thought she’d gone to heaven.
Onto the highly recommended gourmet street food locale. We were a bit disappointed as we sat down at an outside table overlooking a square that had a small flea market operating. T went inside to check out the menu, to then beckon D inside: the food stalls were all in there, and were well set up to provide a range of options – pasta, Portuguese cuisine, Filipino, Peruvian and so on. We opted for bowls of soup – a bouillabaisse and a beef borsch, both of which were satisfying – not least because it was by now 3 PM. Only disappointment was that we were too early for the craft beers that had been recommended – they only became available at 4 PM.
On to the Finnish Design Museum. T did suggest that D might prefer to sit in the little park nearby, but as tempting as this was (and the outdoor bar just outside was even more so) D decided that his cultural and artistic education should continue.
T wished that she had done some design studies; the concept of combining functionality, aesthetics, excitement & pleasure (ingredients for mental health) in the production of things is easy to understand.
Happily a Number 10 tram stop was adjacent so we could rest our weary legs. The 24-hour supermarket gave us a ready-made dinner: roast chicken & salad mix. The range of prepared meals was more than adequate: fish in various guises, pork cuts, chicken cuts and a salad bar for mix& match. After picking up supplies, a dilemma: which way was ‘home’? Help came from the strangers nearby who confirmed the direction. The kindness of strangers has been notable.
As we write this, Art Pepper played ‘Patricia’ for us. It seems she’s everywhere.