Today has been a very memorable one. I have spent it in the company of the very special and lovely Maria in a beautifully sunny and charming Helsinki. I can't upload any photos today as I forgot to bring a cable or card reader with me, but as soon as I'm back in Rotterdam, I will post lots!
We had a truly lovely time walking first round the city harbour (water and boats always good), then through some very elegant tree lined streets (rather Parisian in style), finishing up at a delightful Italian restaurant where we had lunch served by an equally delightful patron. After that, we took the ferry to Suomelinna Island (I hope I've spelt that right) and walked round the old fortifications along its coastal path. The sun shone through the mist onto peaceful waters, and we watched the big sea going ferries pulling out of the harbour. It is really very beautiful and wonderfully peaceful....except for the occasional throngs of students already beginning their celebration of 'Vappu', a very singularly Finnish festival to mark Walpurgis night. The festival itself is celebrated in several countries, but the video link I've given here is the Finnish version (thanks for the link, Maria). Here's another link to its history.
When we arrived back in Helsinki, we actually watched and witnessed the event shown in the film clip, and it was great to see all the generations mingling in the city centre with their white caps on in honour of the occasion.
As the festivities then continue into a series of all night parties, Maria and I beat a retreat and took the tram out of the city. Probably a wise decision judging by the number of police vans I saw as I walked the last stretch back to the hostel. It looked very much as if they were preparing for a busy night!
Tomorrow I'm off to Vaasa to visit Hans and Ingela. More on that later...