Our Northern Highlights and the Arctic Circle Tour Begins
We were up at 6am for breakfast at 7am. We departed the Scandic Hotel at 8am for a city sightseeing tour of Helsinki with our group.
First stop was the Olympic Stadium, then onto Sibileus Park and finishing at Senate Square. We had a few hours free time so Pete and I walked around the city past the "Three Smiths Statue" unveiled in 1932 depicting three naked smiths hammering on an anvil. Legend has it that they will start working when a virgin walks past. We backtracked to the Kamppi Chapel or the Church of Silence which is located at the entrance of the Kamppi Shopping Centre. The Chapel is intended to be a place where people can have a moment of silence and calm down in the middle of the busiest area in Finland. We also managed to find some time to visit the Russian Upenski Cathedral. It was magnificent inside. There are 13 onion domes representing Christ and the 12 Apostles. The central dome is held aloft by four monolithic granite pillars.
Inside, the cathedral houses a rich display of icons and other typical Orthodox decorations, including an impressive array of chandeliers hanging from the vaulted ceiling. One of the icons is believed to work miracles. There are also beautiful views of the marketplace and the city from outside the church.
We had lunch at Senate Square at Kaffehaus Rortgen which was lovely.
Back on the bus at 12 o'clock and we began our journey north to Kuopio through unspoiled forests and lakes. On arrival at Kuopio we could see the Puijo tower which is a 75 metre observation tower with a revolving restuarant. On the western side of the tower there are three ski jumping hills. Imagine having lunch watching the Finns jumping. Maybe next trip. We stayed at the Sokos Hotel Puijonsarvi. We had a group 3 course dinner across the road from our hotel which was delicious. After dinner we walked to the square and saw the Kuopio Cathedral which is a stone Nenoclassical style church built in 1806. We also saw the Kuopio museo which consists of a block eleven old wooden houses. The oldest buildings on the block are from the late 1700's. We walked to the beautiful lake that surrounds Kuopio and watched the sunset.