Friday, August 26, 2011

Suomi Finland Tourkele part 2: Kivi, Meri

7/31 - Helsinki

When troubleshooting DHCP, like anything else, it helps to have both ends of the wire plugged in. Internet fixed, let's get some tourpoints researched.

018. Eurobrekkie: bread and spready cheese.

To a certain degree, I could have reserved a lot of what I'm going to do today for tomorrow; the distances around the south center are easily hikable, and Suomenlinna should be in the "pack on" category. There's no predicting the weather, though, so get it done when you can.

019. Orthodox cathedral, over some greenery.

020. The caduceus suggests an old hospital building.

021. Modern building, headed for the canal.

022. View up to the Lutheran cathedral.

023. Beat-up alcove along the street below the cathedral. Helsinki's famous punk scene implied but not pictured.

024. View north along the canal.

025. Along the uni building towards Senate Square.

026. Rounding the corner. The fisheye effect of the wide lens helps, but this is one of those spaces that looks larger than it is. Helsinki is constrained by water, so the Russians couldn't clear the space to do St. Petersburg at full scale.

027. Front of the part of the Uni that faces the square. If I couldn't get up to the science campus, I'd at least get a symbol of the main effect Finland's had on my professional life.

028. Domes of the Lutheran cathedral.

029. Statue of Alexander II out in front.

030. And how you know they're Scandinavian Lutherans. Compare to an equivalent building in Berlin and you get a sense of the differences in outlook that a little latitude -- and, admittedly, a significant gulf in world-power throw weight -- brings.

031. More shiny metal cladding on a roof south of the square.

032. Fountain by the Market Square.

033. Old customs house, further down.

034. Alexander II's memorial plinth over Market Square, which retains an actual market; fresh produce as well as tourist-trap stuff.

And now, out to Suomenlinna.

035. Ferry traffic in the harbor.

036. Viking liner at anchor; I'll see the other side of one of these tomorrow.

037. Finnish, German, what turned out to be Bahamanian, wtf, and American flags on the shore of this island.

038. Beacon on a headland.

039. Shoreline receding.

040. I'm sure this weird structure in the distance is easily explained, but it looks like something out of Close Encounters.

041. House on a harbor island...and tourists.

042. Another house on top of a seamount.

043. Bare rock island. These aren't sandbars, it's all granite.

044. Blockhouse on an island further out.

045. Start of the Suomenlinna complex.

046. Larger island ahead.

047. Church tower over the trees.

048. Overgrown fortifications.

049. And out into the Baltic.

050. Business end of the fortress.

051. Wider view of the fort.

052. Submarine museum from the outside coming in.

video1: Corners of the fort move past the camera coming in.

053. Closeup of the walls.

054. Ducks and a launch chilling out.

055. The walls grow right out of the bedrock.

056. Seagull taking a break.

057. Shredded brick where this building was cut off.


058. Nav chart in the museum, from Helsinki down to Stockholm. Look at all those islands between Turku and the open ocean; it's no wonder the Russians moved the capital.

059. Memorial pillar in Finnish and Swedish.

060. Fortress wall, going up.

061. Ehrensvärd sarcophagus; an interesting mix of neoclassical and Norse styles.

062. Kick-brush. The Finns, like the Japanese, usually take their shoes off before going inside. Where that's not practical, there are other measures that can be taken against the mud.

063. Old drydock, under renovation.

064. ...and some ships getting worked on regardless.

065. Blockhouse across a former parade ground.

066. Earthworks between buildings.

067. Fortlet topped with grass, like moss growing on trolls.

068. Fortifications and hockey goals.

069. Passage through the walls.

070. Fort worn down by time and shelling.

071. Construction cabins and a gravel fives pitch to play on at lunch breaks.

072. Dark greenery between the fortress walls and this building.

073. Beat-up wall and a view out to sea.

074. Finnish naval ensign over the battlements. The naval academy is still out here (see picture 037), just not on the islands where most of the fortress is.

075. Paths leading up to the battery emplacements.

076. The mud gets so bad in Finland, even the seagulls need to wear boots.

077. Inlet and out towards Helsinki.

078. Tourists playing around on the guns.

079. Not a whirlpool; a rock catching waves creates an optical illusion.

080. Greenery and Helsinki skyline.

081. West-facing battery.

082. Further south and west into the archipelago.

083. Flag and more of the fort.

084. Single gun emplacement.

085. ...and the view it commands.

086. More of the west-facing battery.

087. Fortress cistern under renovation.

088. Wide shot of the interior of the fort.

089. Smaller gun facing south. The guns on this side are smaller (about 9-in rather than 11-in) because as the following panorama shows, the southern approaches are a trap.

090. South-eastern basin; the islands set a natural boundary. The guns here can be smaller because anything dumb enough to come in past that perimeter is in range of the whole battery, and because of said perimeter will get hit several times before it's able to get out and try somewhere else.

091. Old muzzle-loader under the east wall. This is restored to the 1748 configuration, when the Swedes originally built this place.

092. More guns in an alcove.

093. Wider shot of the east wall.

094. Finnish flag, English cider.

095. Meme graffiti gets everywhere. I didn't do this, honest.

096. So this is where it's at. Actually, this is a restaurant (and allegedly a very good one, put in to serve dignitaries visiting for the '52 Olympics), but since I wasn't up for a mead-and-wild-boar lunch -- not in festival mode yet -- I kept walking.

097. Rock and battlements.

098. Along the wall at King's Gate.

099. Back to the more northern island.

100. Waves at the foot of the wall.

Having taken a good number of pictures, I sat down here, in one of the few stretches on this landing not absolutely covered in seagull shit, to write these up.

101. Is this a target or something?

102. Waves coming in; the little pocket of water shows how high high tide gets.

103. Viking liner headed for the channel.

video2: The ship takes 40 seconds to clear the frame. And yes, I waved back.

Now, time to get hiking again, do the museum, and maybe hit up the brewery. Fun times.

104. Barrels menacing the harbor. Probably ornamental.

105. Sharp angles on this high house.

106. Avian tour group about to hit the beach.

107. Memorial pillar to the garrison members killed in various conflicts.

108. Beetling clouds over the battlements; it looks like I used up all my good weather luck in Hong Kong.

109. Damage cutaway of an inner wall.

110. Mobile howitzers -- decommissioned by the removal of their breech blocks.

111. Down the inlet between islands.

112. ((not germane))

113. ((not germane))

Suomenlinna museums

114. Shell cart in the main museum.

115. A later, more complicated shell hoist.

116. Poker chips from the Swedish period.

117. Russian ikon and other artifacts.

118. Russian field surgery instruction poster. Slight Beheaded Zombie influence here?

119. Toys from the inter-war era.

120. Pro-democratic banner from the independence era; Finnish independence coincided with the sailors' mutiny/naval soviets for a reason.

121. "Representative" view of the ocean floor around the fortress.

122. If you scuba, screw Aruba, come here. This sounds awesome.

123. Timber forts built under the harbor as barricades. The brackish water means they're still here, 100+ years later.

Military museum

124. Torpedo launcher.

125. Breech block for coastal artillery.

126. Light and heavier anti-aircraft pieces.

127. Vickers 6-ton tank in livery that would probably shock its builders.

128. See? Built Tyneside even.

129. It's only one hall, but they did manage to get a whole log fort inside.

130. Drive shaft and motor of a Russian T46 torpedo.

131. Medical tent and replica field artillery emplacement.

132. Winter war! Total war!

133. Various antitank munitions; the smaller 20mm shells would've been used in the famous Lahti rifle.

134. "Wood-gas generator", hung off the back of the 'technical' from 132 above. No idea if this puts out liquid fuel or electrical power; my Finnish is almost completely absent, let alone good enough to read the original, and I wasn't about to go through the sign with the dictionary.

135. APC trailing a fieldpiece. The benches on the sides make it clear that the carrier's all that's armored, not the personnel.

136. Two Lahtis yoked into an AA rig. I was hoping to see the ski-portable, solo-crewed version, but I guess all of those remaining intact/operational have gone into private -- and very paranoid -- hands in Idaho and the like.

137. View across more barrack buildings.

138. Up to the church; they got rid of the onion dome after the Russians left.

139. View towards Helsinki from the pier.

I finally found the brewery and got lunch, writing this up in the process.

140. Mostly-consumed "Seth"-lager; this is a three-grain brew of rye, wheat, and barley. Sure, it's not completely 1516-fähig, but this is Finland, and it's a good beer.

141. GET IN MA BELLY RUDOLPH!! These days, the Finns mostly eat kebabs and pasta and fusion food like normal people, but if you're here as a tourist, you eat reindeer, and the reindeer here didn't cost an arm and a leg. The bear did, but you can't exactly farm bears.

Lunch was good and filling; may just hike to and from the Sibelius monument this afternoon to balance it out. And that "Seth" stuff is pure delicious.

Random thoughts waiting on the ferry:

1) There are a lot of east Asian tourists here; Chinese and Japanese in about equal numbers. Despite the short polar route, this didn't really explain itself until I saw all the Moomin junk at the tourist points.

2) Finland is officially bilingual, so everything is also in Swedish. I personally find that when I need to read nouns, Finnish is easier, but when it comes to verbs, it's easier to try and pick out the Swedish label. I can do the n->n mappings for nouns and the negations for adjectives, but Finnish verb declension is beyond my meager abilities in the time allotted.

142. Boat passing under the forts of the "museum island".

I basically have only Sibelius left on my initial list of tour points; I should get this done by six and have plenty of time at the hotel to plan tomorrow, repack for the ferry, troll friends with snack labels (pics 112 and 113, which is why they're not here), and maybe grab a beer at the bar by the Croatian embassy near the hotel if a) it's open and b) it's not all expats.

D'aww, no reaction from the dude in the Nifelheim shirt.

143. Picturesque generation station.

After sailing back, I decided to hike to Sibelius Park. This worked about as well as anticipated without a map, and midway through the central cemetery, deep into "ok, I don't even know where I am anymore" territory, I took a writing break.

144. Baltic skies as the ferry leaves.

145. Arch under the fortifications.

146. Rounding the headland coming out.

147. Better view of those cannons by King's Gate.

148. Looking up over the fort.

149. Buoy in the channel.

150. Coastline, pulling out.

151. Old tugboat.

152. Coming in to Helsinki.

153. Hydrofoil with Estonian registry on the waterfront. If I'd scheduled things better, I could have done a side quest to Tallinn along the lines of my Macau trip, but a) I didn't bother looking it up and b) I didn't know if I needed an extra visa. Finland is in the Eurozone and a Schengen signatory, but I dunno about Estonia.

154. Orthodox cathedral over some buildings.

155. Paddlewheel ferry, outbound to the zoo.

156. Cathedral from the pier.

157. Statue in the middle of the esplanade.

158. Row of buildings along a major street.

159. Looking up at the other crossing.

160. Last road going through this intersection.

161. Down another street.

162. Because the Finnish translation looks wicked silly.

163. Gallery installation; shirts hung across the street.

164. Memorial stele in Swedish in the park opposite.

165. A little closer to those shirts.

166. Slate for the above.

167. Kalevala monument from across the street.

168. Blending of styles on this block.

169. Kebab origami.

170. "Buy two get one free" is a little wordy for non-native audiences.

171. This is a hotel, but Empire facades and brilliant blue skies are what the Baltic, at least in summer, is about.

172. Tile-fronted apartment block.

173. Graffiti in English -- so they don't have to meet the two-languages rule.

174. Along a residential street.

175. Across a square heading west.

176. Awesome bridge, going more north.

177. Underside of the same bridge.

178. Cool mix of old and new; something in the composition recalls Dresden, like Altstadt southeast of the train station, but I can't put a finger on it for sure.

179. Busy junction under construction.

180. Just a cool juxtaposition of color and shadow in these blocks.

181. Finland slate; high-tech one side, nature on the other.

182. A better view coming back; the building reflects the greenery and seems to disappear.

183. Wall and greenery, heading back into the cemetery.

If I'd taken the tram, I'd likely be at Sibelius by now -- but I wouldn't've seen all this cool stuff. Transit when you mean business; by foot when you have the time.

184. "Between the monuments and trees".

185. "At the heart of the city". Listening to too much Woods again.

186. Seeing this beach in the lee of the cemetery may help explain why Finland produces so much dark music. Even in the heat of the summer, the shadow of death remains.

187. A few solitary graves outside the cemetery walls.

188. Cool block housing coming off the tram.

189. Frieze-covered facade of some school.

190. Hospital, trees, and sky; I figured out I'd gotten wrong-footed by about half a klick, and was coming back south.

191. Another of those UFO things -- and a different one, to the west rather than the east of the center.

192. Finally, the Sibelius monument.

193. Burst and whole pipes, and a bust of the man.

194. A full front view.

With this, I was done tourism for the day, and maybe period. Depending on how/when I wrap up tomorrow morning, I may just sit in a park for 3 1/2 hours and watch the world go by over a case of Karhu.

Awright, time to go home and get food again.

Part of me wants to give the mental Arab guy waiting for the tram a slap and say "hey, if the world disenchants you so much, work to change it, instead of blabbering 'shaitan, shaitan, shaitan' to a bunch of people who can't understand you and don't care", but I remember being a stranger in a strange land myself, in Japan, in Poland, and to a lesser extent here. It does get to you after a while, and I shouldn't begrudge people their coping mechanisms.

195. Unique purple trees hiking back to the tram. It's so weird to see something neither pine nor birch.

196. The light here is just plain badass.

197. Another cool composition of buildings and foliage.

In addition to the cool stuff pictured, there was probably just as much that I didn't take pictures of, from the crazy shop window full of all kinds of dildos to the restaurant indicated just by the sign "Olut ja Pizza". Beers and 'za -- what else do you need? This is the inherent compromise of tourism: nobody has enough battery to shoot everything, and it looks peinlich to try, so you do as much as you can in the breaks from actual experience. Want the rest? Come out here yourself.

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