McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Features

September 24, 2013

Travel: Helsinki, a Baltic beauty

On my first day in Helsinki, I battled jet lag and hot temperatures and headed for Suomenlinna Island Fortress, whose construction started in 1748 when Sweden ruled the area. To get to the UNESCO World Heritage site, cited as a prime example of European military architecture, I caught a ferry at bustling Market Square where vendors sell all sorts of produce and seafood, and the inhabitants like to sit and enjoy a Keralian pie or coffee and a local rendition of the doughnut.

As my boat slipped away from its dock, I was impressed with the number of big cruise ships docked in port, then readied my camera for some great shots of the cityscape from the upper deck.

The sea around Helsinki is dotted by close to 340 islands, some large, some no bigger than a pick-up truck, which must have proved problematic for early seafarers. The ferry, however, had no trouble navigating the rock-strewn waters, and 15 minutes or so later, it docked at the island fortress, one of Finland’s most popular attractions.

It was a pleasure to be able to walk along cobblestone streets in the shadow of the crenulated stone battlements without being distracted by auto traffic. Actually a town of 350 year-round residents, Suomenlinna shares its historic stone bastions with a number of artist shops, museums and cafes.

To see much of the fortress, including the King’s Gate, the Great Courtyard, the pink-plastered jetty barracks, the extensive Zander bastion and the 1854 Russian church (now functioning as a Lutheran house of worship), plan to do a bit of walking and allow yourself at least three hours, more if you linger in the museums.

Back in town, expansive Senate Square and its surrounding buildings are the oldest part of central Helsinki. Much of the square’s Neoclassic architecture resembles that of St. Petersburg because after the Russian emperor annexed Finland, he commissioned the same architect who previously worked in the then-Russian capital, Carl Engel, to work on Finnish projects.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Features
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Raw: Royal Couple Visits Australia Mountains Raw: Pro-Russian Militants Killed on Base Captain of Sunken South Korean Ferry Apologizes Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing Raw: Blast at Tennessee Ammunition Plant Kills 1 Hoax Bomb Raises Anxiety in Boston Egypt Clamps Down on Mosques to Control Message After Fukushima, Japan Eyes Solar Power New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Ex-California City Leader Gets 12 Year Sentence Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?
NDN Video
Grizzly Bears Get Snowy Birthday Party Florida State Ends Top Of the 5th With Bizarre Play vs Jacksonville | ACC Must See Moment Kate Upton Loves Her Body, Every Part Of It Weatherman draws forecast when another technical glitch strikes WGN Elizabeth Olsen's Sexy Shoot Bay Area Teen Gets Prom Date With Help From 'Breaking Bad' Star Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Behind The Tanlines Jersey Strong Part 1 WATCH: Women Fight To Marry Prince Harry! Jenny McCarthy Engaged to "New Kid" Kate and Will Land in Oz O’Reilly Launches Preemptive Strike Against CBS Pixar Unveils Easter Eggs From its Biggest Movies Baby Sloths Squeak for Their Cuddle Partners in Adorable Video Miley Cyrus Hospitalized After Severe Reaction To Medicine Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Toddler climbs into vending machine 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Much-Anticipated 'Gone Girl' Trailer Finally Debuts! (VIDEO) Dog and Toddler Wear Matching Outfits in Adorable Photo Series
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.