Baltic Cruise Helsinki

Jan Leeming

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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.


Date: 11th September 2009


Not knowing anything at all about Finland we decided to take a walking tour of Helsinki.  We were lucky to score a very good guide.  (Guides do differ enormously and they can make or break one's enjoyment of a tour.  Although they all speak English, it is often so heavily accented and spoken so rapidly that comprehension is a problem. Another common mistake they make is in not waiting till the whole group are assembled at a place of interest and thus you can miss out on much of the explanation.)  incidentally, on our scheduled break by a lake for Coffee and a Danish Pastry - we both agreed they were the best Danish pastries we'd ever tasted - and that in Finland!

We found the history of Finland quite fascinating - this little country has been kicked around rather like a football being 'owned' variously by Sweden and Russia and only established itself as a republic in 1919. In the 1930's around 30% of the population spoke Swedish but today that is reduced to 7% but most public signs are in both languages with the Finnish coming first. 

Helsinki suffered badly from the ravages of war but even worse from fire.  All Finnish towns were previously built of wood, the domestic raw material, and fire caused much devastation.  Therefore there is very little that is 'old' in Helsinki and it is predominantly a modern city.

We enjoyed our walking tour but my foremost memory was of the Church in the Rock.  Our guide was very specific about the name.  When people ask for the Church of the Rock they are directed to the Church of St. Peter (on this rock I will build my church) but when asking for the Church in the Rock, you are directed to a most unusual place of worship.  Two young architects decided to 'blast' a Church literally out of the Rock.  Light in the church, apart from candles, is derived from the shine of the Copper around the 'walls'.  I am not a lover of modern churches and modern cathedrals - to me they lack the 'awe and grandeur' that I associate with the Majesty of the Church.  But the Church in the Rock, though modern, had an aura about it - probably caused by being constructed from the rock.  I believe that rocks and minerals give off vibrations and certainly felt something in that particular Church. Despite the crowds, there was a sense of peace and beauty.

Jonathan decided to stay and wander around the city and I took the coach back to the ship.  I like to practice my talks several times before a performance and the Helsinki afternoon seemed a good opportunity.

Jonathan came back clutching a big bouquet of lovely red roses.  They were fully open and I feared that they would only last a day or two.  As it was, they lasted until Southampton.

I am sorry I can only post one picture per blog so I decided to show you the altar of the Rock Church.


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