Drove to Helsinki and took hop on/off bus – saw interesting Vanha Kauppahalli patterned brick Market Hall, Temppeliaukio rock church, Uspenski Cathedral, art nouveau buildings, harbour, Jean Sibelius Monument and the curvy glass Kiasma building.
|Street art on harbour|
|Jean Sibelius Monument|
The difference between Finland and rest of Scandinavia is noticeable with litter, shabby infrastructure, cluttered yards, people less sharply dressed. Enjoyed boat cruise in Gulf of Finland - passed jetty where (mostly!) men were washing carpets in brackish harbour water, Suerassaran island, Suomenlinna sea fortress including Kings Gate, ice breaker ships.
|Enjoying the free blankets...|
Back on land, climbed (all!) stairs up to Engel's stunning Toumiokirkko Lutheran Cathedral in Senate Square, calling it a night after a meal of risotto and roe blinis in a tractor bar.
We were relieved to have vehicle serviced at Veho, and tyres rotated/balanced by Eurotyre, but Sensatyre gauge is now not working - drat. Drove out to second oldest town in Finland, Porvoo for a pleasant afternoon’s exploring, starting with Cathedral, and its exquisite marble pulpit and belfry overlooking Old Town. We heard it’s been burned down five times since the 13th century. Ship hangings found in churches close to coast are often votives/gifts from sailors seeking blessings for their voyage. The unicorn sketched high on the column is rare in Finnish churches - it symbolises Christ/purity and dates back to medieval times. Parked on narrow cobblestone lane in midst of distinctive pastel-coloured timber houses, then were stopped by a radio journalist for an interview in the street! Day was complete when we finally met up with Fred to collect our well-travelled Swedish visa – just in time to say goodbye to Finland!!
Drove to Naatali for full day ferry crossing to Kapellskar, Stockholm, once disembarked headed towards Jonkoping. In the short weeks we've been away from Sweden green crops have turned gold ripening for harvest. (Phew - sign to Tom Tits Experiment turns out to be a Science Centre!) Saab using airplanes for advertising (only other heavy marketing in rural Sweden seems to be billboards on trailers). Thru Husqvarna, Jonkoping and Toftaholm. "Hey-hey", everyone says a friendly hello. Lovely colours as the SUN WENT DOWN!
Headed towards Ystad, home of a favourite author, Mankell and the plots involving Inspector Wallender. Enjoyed secondary roads – hares, villagers striding along with walking poles, stone houses, black sheep, corn and wheat fields, wheat being harvested, prolific wildflowers. Walked up to Ale Stenar (Stone Ship), burial sites, ancient beacon for sailors, then on to Valleberga (fortified round church). Back in Ystad, called in to St Maria's, strolled Stortorget (Main Square), bought The Troubled Man at Wallender’s favourite bookshop (sadly the last in series), and ate at Store Thor diner. Delightedly picked up English fudge and French tart at International Food Fair, ending the evening by dipping our feet in cold Baltic Sea.
|Medieval wooden crucifix with real hair|
|On the shores of the Baltic Sea|
|BoyRob meets the Queen....|
On towards Malmo and the Twisting Torso, paying very expensive toll on Oresund Bridge to Denmark. Deviated to Hillerod to see Castle Frederiksborg, largest (Dutch) Renaissance Palace in Scandinavia, sited across three islands in Palace Lake. Surrounded by formal Baroque gardens, it’s now a museum of national history - gilded ceilings, wall tapestries, opulent furnishings, royal portraits and antiques in Knights Hall, and Coronation Chapel (but no portraits yet of our Princess Mary!!).
On towards Odense, on Funen Island – drove high over amazing 18 km bridge/tunnel crossing Great Belt strait, landing in middle on small island of Sprogo (between 1923-59 used as “containment for women deemed pathologically promiscuous” eg unwanted pregnancies!!) Admired engineering that put wind farms in ocean.
Arrived Odense, enjoyed Hans CHristian Anderson museum immensely, with outline of his history as it sat inside European history of the times. There was more to him than his famous fairy tales, Ugly Duckling, Tin Soldier and Emperor’s New Clothes. Exhibits of journals, scrapbooks, letters (expressing his passion for the much younger Swedish singer Jenny Lind), early book illustrations, examples of his fine symmetrical cutouts, collage screens. His grandmother was described as a loose woman, and he had a very poor childhood, his mother dying a pauper in monastery. We followed a footsteps trail through parks and town looking through cathedral where he was confirmed, and prison/ insane asylum where he used to crouch under window listening to inmate myths & stories inside. Outdoor art was fascinating, some of pieces acquired during Sculpture Odense event.
|Detail of collage screens for the drawing room|
|Symmetric scissor art|
|Drawings for Princess and the Pea|
|Real-life Ugly Duckling??|
On towards Aarhus, passing open plains of yellow wheat. Camped on edge of Marselisborg Forest. Crossed Limfjordsbroen tunnel to Norresundby, and the top peninsula of Denmark. Met Dutch/ New Zealand couple in 1952 truck. Remains of WWII bunkers on peninsula. Excitement in air for next thrilling part of our adventure – exploration of Iceland….
|Passing an enormous wind vane|
|Vehicles camped on beach, some waiting for the morning ferry to Iceland|