The highlight of the tour was our visit to the "Rock Church". This is a church that was built mostly underground. They excavated an area of rock large enough for the sanctuary but rock still covers most of the exterior of the church. And I am not talking about little rocks arranged into tidy walls but rather big, honkin' pieces of bedrock that were simply left in place. The church does however have skylights and therefore natural illumination so it does not at all feel dark or gloomy despite being mostly underground. Our guide said as we were walking to the church that we might get lucky and hear some music being played inside the church -- a treat because the acoustics are very good. Since it was Tuesday at approximately 11:30 am this prospect did not at all appear likely to either Russell or myself. But, lo and behold, there was an orchestra rehearsing a wonderful piece of music. And they (whoever they are) are right -- the acoustics are phenomenal and the whole experience was just one of those "peak experiences" when life feels so right, like you are exactly where you are supposed to be, doing exactly what you are meant to do. Amazing.
After the Rock Church, Russell and I walked to the Design Museum. R was feeling a little peckish so I decided to limit myself to the gift shop where I picked up some interesting books (gee, surprise) before we walked (a long way) back to the ship.
Impressions? First off, let me just say that Helsinki was nothing like I had envisioned that it would be. I was thinking sleek, contemporary skyscrapers and modernist/minimalist stores. Wrong on both counts. It's a low-rise city with nary a skyscraper in sight. And smaller than I had imagined. Also, the stores were not glossy or ostentatious. In fact the place was very nearly the opposite. The whole place had a home-y feel to me. That could be because many of the people I saw looked vaguely related to one another. Or perhaps it was the lack of flashy cars and ostentatiously dressed individuals. Even the architecture was for the most part quiet and unassuming. It was just a quiet, calm, very human place that I liked very much and can't wait to return to.