Friday 21 July 2006
Highlights: Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral, Temppeliaukio Church (built into bedrock)
The last full day of the tour started in Estonia with some free time before a ferry across to Helsinki. I actually like ferries a lot and it reminded me of the 3 day trip I have in China next month.
In Helsinki we got a quick tour of the city with me noting down a few places I’ll visit with me free time over the next few days. The Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral, is interesting in that it looks totally Russian (which it was) but they go to pains to stress this is no longer the case. The Lutheran Cathedral dominates the Senate Square and I’ll be back to see more over the weekend.
The highlight of the day however had to be the Temppeliaukio Church which is built into bedrock. The designers wanted the church to be at one with nature, have easy access (there are no stairs) and have a more natural flow (no wall is the exact length etc). It’s not like any church I’ve seen anywhere else in the world. I got to touch the rock walls, very cool.
The last event on the tour was an optional traditional dinner; however at over 42 Euros I gave it a miss. Later in the evening I found out from one of the participants that the dinner wasn’t that great as the guide wanted to get back to the hotel early. It would have been better to have an included dinner on the last night so we could say goodbye to each other. I found that I didn’t really bond much with the group being a more luxury type tour . I’d say I got on better and closer with the backpackers on BusAbout and that isn’t even a tour.
I think with this being a luxury tour, me having a room to myself, and a lot of the individuals having different ‘world’ opinions to myself caused the lack of engagement. Hearing complaints about small walks and that various people wanted more shopping time (and therefore less sightseeing) probably didn’t help. I still had a great time however and got on with the younger travellers (Jess, Janet & Holly). It was however the best possible way to organise travel in this area given visa restriction with Russia.