We celebrated the Midsummer filming for the french TV Arte the bonfires and traditional dances. Everyone in the public could try and join the dancers. A wedding couple is also performing every year, first getting married at the Karuna old church from the 17th century, then opening a dance on the main stage, at10pm the bride has to set up the fire on the water from an ancient wooden rowing boat. After lightening the main ” Kokko”, the boat is backing up and the fire burns for around an hour, warming the public on the waterfront. The weather was cloudy, windy, rainy and cold then turned to a nice quiet evening just at the right moment before the shootings.
Finland celebrated the first of May with a carnival! Our little mermaid in Helsinki- Havis Amanda, was washed with brush and soap by the students, then rinsed with water and Champagne as she is french! She was exhibited on the Champs-Elysées of Paris before arriving to Helsinki in 1908. She is the daughter of the Baltic sea, St Petersburg being the mother. Our beauty with her wide hips and narrow shoulders is the first naked mademoiselle seen in town and she was admired since for her audacity to show her booty to our burgomaster, who’s having his office at the corner of the blue City Hall building towards the fountain she is bathing in.
Finnish people use to enjoy the water even frozen! Just making a hole to fish or bathe! And then to the Traditional Sauna, from the extreme heat to the cold water ! And by practicing that you might live much longer!
Ice Fishing is a traditional winter sport, especially when it’s -20 degrees Celsius. I tried that in front of Helsinki by the Casino of Kulosaari!
First you have to be equipped with a hand drill and make your holes in the frozen sea, put some ugly red fly worms on the hook and wait when holding a simple winding system. I thought first that I would catch some salmon but as the water is not salted, there is not any salmon to catch at that place. However after a couple of hours I succeeded to catch something and I won the fishing contest with a 100 gr Baltic Herring!
Helsinki was founded in 1550 by the King of Sweden Gustav Vaasa and Finland was a part of the Swedish Kingdom, so the capital was Stockholm. To prevent the attacks of Russians, in 1748, we started to build a Sea Fortress called Sveaborg ”castle of Sweden”, then Viapori by the finns and nowadays Suomenlinna, the ”castle of Finland”. This bastion fortress is just in front of Helsinki and in the midway from Stockholm to St Petersbourg. For this is reason, Helsinki became later on in 1812, the capital of the autonom Finland.
Sveaborg ”the castle of Sweden” is a bastion fortress on 6 islands in front of Helsinki and was built from 1748 to defend Sweden against the attacks coming from the East, then became in 1809 the possession of the Russian Empire and was called Viapori by the finns,. Finally the fortress got its name Suomenlinna ”the castle of Finland on the 12th of May 1918, as Finland had become independant on the 6th of December 1917.
Today Suomenlinna is a district of Helsinki with 850 inhabitants and 400 people working there to restaure the fortress and take care of the site as well as to keep the museums and restaurants open to welcome you for a visit.
In 1991 Suomenlinna was classified Unesco World Heritage Site.
You can access Suomenlinna with a ferry departing from the Market Square with a HSL- ticket and take a tour with our guides!
Helsinki is an archipelago of more than 300 islands.
You can visit some of them like Seurasaari the open air museum with old reassembled houses from the 18th century and you can feed skarrels with nuts. They’ll come to eat in your hand! Seurasaari ”company island”is best in the summer with its beach and the midnight summer festivities, with traditional dances and fires on the waterfront that are lightenedat 8PM. Yes, we have no night almost in June, the 21st is the longest,lightest day of the year! The bus 24 going there, stops at the Sibelius Monument, that’s worth visiting before.
The zoo of Helsinki on the island of Korkeasaari ”high island” is open all year round and there are 150 species of animals there and more than thousand different plants to see. You can get there with the Zoo-bus 16, leaving from the railway station or in the Summer by ferry from the market square.
A visit to the Suomenlinna fortress is a must and only possible by the ferry leaving from the market place. Suomenlinna is a district of Helsinki with 850 people living there and 400 working to keep that unique Unesco World Heritage site in the best shape to welcome you for a visit!
There you can take a tour at the main museum, visit the last submarine Veikko used in the Second World War. In the Summer there are many nice restaurants open like the Café Chapman, the restaurants Panimo with a bier brewery or Walhalla.
My favourite season in the year is now!
The sunset is now after 5 pm and it’s a little bit cold -10- 15 Celsius, the sky is most of the time blue, like the cross on our Finnish flag, blue for the sky, white for the clouds! Love it!
So, what are we doing here?
The answer is :
We are crazy Finns, walking over the water. The sea is frozen because it doesn’t have much salt and we need the ice-breakers to open it. Then the lakes are totally frozen and it’s safe to walk, ski, skate, bike, pull the babies on sleds and walk the dogs on…. What else ? We can drive a car or a tractor on the frozen water to clean the snow and make a speed skating lane around the lake or on the sea for children to use at the gym class skating 5km around.
And not to forget, we are going to the traditional Sauna and then making a hole in the ice to bathe!
In the winter, from December to April, the Baltic Sea is a block of ice. Why? Because there is not much salt, under 0,85% ( in front of Helsinki 0,3%) as in the oceans there is 3,5% of salt.
The sea is freezing on a layer of 20-50 cm and we need icebreakers to open it to allow the traffic of cruise and trading ships to Sweden and Estonia. Finland is building 60% of the icebreakers of the world but is using actually a fleet of only 9 icebreakers operating to keep a traffic lane open over the sea from 23 ports on our 50.