We chose to spend most of our time in Finland in Suomenlinna, the island fortress located near Helsinki. This is THE most visited site (by Finnish and visitors alike) in all of Finland, so we were excited to see it ourselves. Click here for a good picture of the main island fortress. (It spans eight islands in total.)
In order to get to Suomenlinna we had to take a bus from our cruise ship, then a ferry to the island. Jon was a master at planning how to get there and at the times we needed to be there. In fact, he helped several other people from our cruise ship get to Suomenlinna as many on our bus were headed there and weren't sure how to get there. So way to go, Jon! He even loaned some Euro to a man from our ship who hadn't even changed his money yet...and for some reason the bus driver in Helsinki didn't take dollars. Go figure! :)
Suomenlinna was built to protect the port city of Helsinki beginning in the mid 18th century. It's been part of Russia, Sweden, and now Finland (since Finland became independent). It houses over 800 residents (such a quaint place to live!) and there are over 100 cannons on the island. (No longer useable, however.)
Walking through the stone archways, each opening to a room that overlooks the water.
The girls were interested to see what each cannon contained...mostly trash, unfortunately, but then they would add their collection of dandelions. Much better.
View toward Helsinki from the main fortress.
And yes, I was there!
And so was Jon!
The girls loved running around the island, exploring and pretending to be captured in a castle. It was a great slower-pace day to enjoy just being outside.
The totally CUTIE little cafe where we had lunch. It was nice that they included blankets at the tables--they were certainly needed.
We had a few hours to spare after exploring the fortress, so we went back into the main cathedral of Helsinki. It was more beautiful outside than inside...but was a great shelter from the rain which burst upon us as we were walking in the streets.
Waiting for the bus on our way back to the ship. Like I said, we didn't get to explore the city as much as we would have liked, but it was a fun day.
The girls got back to the ship in time to visit the kids' club, which they loved, and they got their faces and arms painted. Kate is holding our nightly towel-animal; this one is a snake. His pointy head should be pointing directly toward the camera--that's why he looks strange. They really liked the snake--I think he lasted all of 20 min before they destroyed him. :)