Finland is a place we Swedish usually go to without giving it much thought. Helsinki is kind of a sister city to Stockholm, except that the Finnish politicians have had the courage to leave the city intact, without flattening everything as in Stockholm. Because of this, Helsinki is still a very beautiful city.
I don't know which one is the pride of the city, the Cathedral or the Temple Square Church (Temppeliaukio). The Temple Square Church deserves a special mentioning because it is probably unique in the world, being blasted straight out of a mountaintop.
|I made this dramatic picture with the aid of a polarising camera filter. The light from the sky is polarised, whereas the reflexes from the church are not. On the inside this church is all white and without paintings, and not terribly exciting.
|Close encounter of the third kind with the Temple Square Church The church is dynamited out of the bedrock and looks something like a big bowl inside. The roof is domed like an upside down saucer, and shines of copper. One almost thinks one is inside a UFO. Copper (and rock) is the theme. The church doesn't look like much from the outside. It resembles a landed UFO, sunk into the ground. Also note the Ufo-naut.
|The organ in the Temple Square Church seems to have pipes made out of copper, and not tin as is common. It is very beautiful, and I made a series of sexy close-ups. Gleaming organ pipes contrasting with naked bedrock. Yum-yum.
|A chatedral masterpiece is the Uspensky Cathedral, a Russian-Orthodox temple looking slightly dull on the outside, but a marvel on the inside. It is badly lit, so the visitors do not experience all the splendour that the camera can catch. The first picture is a combination of two wide-angle images.
|An icon masterpiece is this golden loveliness of the Uspensky Cathedral. Unfortunately the congregation is poor, and they can't afford to expose the goodies as well they could be.
|Sure, Finland is the country of the Moomin Trolls. But Moomin seems to be bigger in Japan than we Swedish, who believed ourselves to be the main consumers of Tove Jansson's books, thought. Right at the Senate Square, in front of the Cathedral is a Moomin shop, sporting only Japanese signs and price tags, with only Japanese people in front of, and behind the counters. One might assume that the staff would speak Finnish to the waiters at luch time, but there was no Finnish to be heard in the shop.
|The Fazer Café is one of the most luxurious I know, on level with the best Vienna cafes. The buns and cookies not on sale here, probably does not exist. Finlad has long passed Sweden when it comes to living standard, if you compare the good things in life.
A perfect day. A perfect boat trip, in the summer of 1999. This sounds just like an advertisement for the Viking Line shipping company. I was standing on the foredeck on the ferry to Stockholm at 9 o'clock, caressed by the summer winds, and made this series of pictures on the way out from the harbour to the open sea. These twelve pictures were made within a period of 45 minutes.
The trip begins as the ship leaves the Katajanokka Terminal (1). The ship turns around in the small basin (2). Having turned, it now points its stern towards the harbour exit (4). The Silja Symphony is leaving right before us. She is headed for the narrow sound by the Sveaborg (Suomenmlinna) Sea Fortress (6). Now we are in the sound ourselves (8). Will we be able to squeeze through? Kyllää. We are closing in on the outermost island, with the last lighthouse before the open sea (10). We have passed the lighthouse, with its farm of antennas (11). This sea ain't big enough for the both of us. Bye-bye, Symphony (12). What, me crazy documentalist. Yes, sir!
|By chance I found a picture from the bridge of a Viking Line ship leaving Skatudden. If you look closely at the radar images and compare them to the topmost map in this page, you will see that the ship has just put out from the quay.
|It is impressive to see two 36,000 horsepowers beating up the sea into something that looks like angry beer. We make good speed, about 18-20 knots, right at the bottom edge of the map. Helsinki is out of sight.
|After the wild tourists have finished partying on the after-deck, and the synthesiser maniac has collected his stuff and left, I sit alone in the evening sun, enjoying the sudden calm. The day has been a hectic and hot one, and a cold Coke on a summer-breezy ship deck, my feet on the railing, is just what I need.