Published: May 3rd 2006January 3rd 2006 Helsinki
The Senate Square Cathedral in Helsinki
My cousin Jason accompanied me to Helsinki, and then onwards to Turku where I will be living for the next year (pronounced Toorrrrrrrkoo
with a rolling "R"). We landed in Helsinki and got a taxi to our hostel. The taxi was really expensive, but we had no other option. It's not as if we can walk there with the 2 big bags I was carrying and the fact it was -10 degrees outside. The whole city was covered snow, and at night time with all the lights on it looked amazing. Helsinki is a nice city, but its not the best capital city to visit. It reminds me of Canberra in that respect. Helsinki was only founded about 200 years ago when the Russian empire had once again won the area of Finland from the Swedes. The Swedish capital was in Turku, but the Russian Tsar felt it was too close to Sweden and so moved the capital to Helsinki. You can see the mix of Swedish and Russian architecture in Helsinki, especially evident by the Senate Square Cathedral (Swedish) and the Uspenski Cathedral (Russian).
Jason and I only spent about 2 nights in Helsinki, and
The Uspenski Cathedral in Helsinki
it was enough to get a glimpse of the town. I will have to visit Helsinki quite a few times during the year so there was no point staying there too long. Apart from the mentioned cathedrals, we also saw the Temppeliaukio (the Rock Church). It is a Church that was entirely carved out of the rock in the ground, which was quite interesting. Jason and I also took the ferry to the Suomenlinna, which is a fortress on an island just off the Helsinki coast. That was interesting to see. Unforunately it was -10 degrees or something. Looking back -10 isn't that cold, but what makes Helsinki and also the fortress biting cold is the wind...you do not want to be in -10 degrees then because it feels like -25. It was soooo cold on Suomenlinna, we couldn't even take photos as that involved taking off your gloves. After this I knew I was in for a tough couple of months battling the Finnish winter. Turku
From Helsinki we took the train to Turku. Upon arriving in Turku I met my tutor Eeva, who is very friendly and fun. Eeva was always there to lend
The Aussie Outback Bar
An Australian bar in Helsinki where I was able to enjoy a good Coopers Pale Ale. They also caved into worldwide stereotypes and sell Fosters here, which is a real shame. It is totally un-Australian!
a hand and it was great to have someone really cool to talk to while doing my administrative stuff. Hopefully I will get to know her well during the semester.
New Years Eve in Turku was pretty cool. Unlike in Australia, fireworks are legal here and everyone buys an array of fireworks to set off by the river. It was great to see the river lined with snow-covered trees glistening in the night light with fireworks going off in every direction.
Jason and I did a bit of sightseeing in Turku, but let's face it, there's not much to see here. It is well known by residents of Turku that once you've seen the Castle and the Cathedral, you can pretty much go back home. Effectivley that is exactly what Jason did as he left the next day to go back to London. Despite not really doing or seeing much, it was a great feeling to finally be in Turku with my year of exchange right about to start.
There are more photos below