Today I visited Suomenlinna, an island fortress which is just a 15-minute ferry ride from the city centre of Helsinki. The fortress, which was built in the mid-1700’s, has a rich history and has been used alternately to defend Sweden, Russia, and Finland in various wars. Nowadays, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you can take a self-guided tour and learn about its history, see some of the old tunnels and barracks, and take in the scenery as well. It is also home to about 800 people!! As you can probably imagine, it’s quite windy and cold in the winter, so it’s more of an attraction in the summer, but I was able to brave the elements for long enough to snap a few photos!
1) I arrived just as the clouds were covering up the rising sun, which ended up creating some stunning colors/cloud formations in the sky. This is on the ferry ride over, at about 10:30 am, and it really was that color! 2) The Suomenlinna church, which now doubles as a lighthouse, with the incredible sky as a backdrop. If you look closely, you can also see this church in the first photo – it’s almost exactly halfway across. 3) Fortress walls. 4) An idyllic little inlet. 5) A completely frozen over little cove! 6) The path up on top of the fortress walls. 7) This crazy person was paragliding out over the ocean! It was seriously cold and windy. Mad props. 8) A little viewing hole which was probably used to defend the island. 9) Walked past this little guy on my way back home.
In other news, I joined a student choir on Thursday! I happened to see a notice for auditions on Facebook, went on a whim and got in! Thank goodness tenors are always in demand 🙂 It seems like a really cool and tight group of people, and we’re already doing some crazy Finnish and Swedish music. I didn’t realize how much I was missing singing in a choir, and it has been lots of fun so far. However, it’s a bit more challenging than usual as the director speaks entirely in Finnish!! I basically just have to imitate his demonstrations and use my somewhat limited musical knowledge to guess what he’s looking for – it’s a good cultural exercise definitely 🙂 Fortunately I can usually understand the Finnish numbers well enough to figure out which measure we’re on. Everything else is just a total crapshoot though!
I have some more photos I’ve been taking here and there of the various university campuses, which I will probably post soon, so stay tuned!