I have to say, I thought our kids would remember more about Helsinki from our last trip here than they actually do (which just goes to show, if you’re trying to make family memories with young-ish kids, or even with pre-teens, you should formulate your plans around what the adults want to do and just tell the kids later what a great time everyone had, but I digress). The last time we were in Helsinki, the boys were twelve and eight years old, and I’m thinking they were more focused on not losing track of their luggage than they were on taking in the scenery.
… Maybe it’s because we kept saying: “if you forget anything, we’re not coming back for it,” which was not the exact truth, but at twelve and eight years old, one rather freaks out about losing one’s Gameboy, or being abandoned on a train platform. I don’t know why either kid would think we’d abandon him, but I am impressed with how each of them tends to keep up on our trips.
Mike did his best trying to help them remember by creating some then/now photos, because he’s a giver:
On this day, we were accompanied by Henna, our second Finnish daughter, whom we met last time we were here to visit Saara, our first. Even though Henna was recently in Boise for a visit, it was great to spend some quality time with her again and have her as our tour guide on our visit to Suomenlinna, an island sea fortress about 20-minutes by ferry off the coast of Helsinki.
The weather was gorgeous, thankfully, because even the tiniest bit of chill makes this windy island difficult to enjoy (okay, maybe that’s just for me, a weather lightweight).
Suomenlinna was built by the Swedish – with financing from the French – in the 1700s to bolster its position and Finnish defenses against the Russians. The Russians took over the island in the 1800s, so we can kind of see how this plan worked out.
During the First World War, Suomenlinna (then called Viapori) was strategic to the Russians in helping protect their capital of Saint Petersburg. The fortress includes what is now Europe’s oldest functioning dry dock. While the Russians were preoccupied with their revolution, the fortress was taken over by the newly independent Finnish government in 1918.
When our tour of Suomenlinna was done, we still had time to visit an Iittala store near the harbor, so I could replace my favorite Finnish mug (broken a year or two ago), with a whole set of new ones, and pick up some other goodies while we were at it. Henna works at Iittala, and when we later had dinner at the apartment she and her beau, Joona, share, we could see she’d been busy making use of her employee discount.
I love Finnish design, and it’s probably a good thing we have limited luggage space, or else I’d probably do a very un-Finnish thing and clutter up our home with a bunch of Finnish brands I can’t afford, like Iittala and Merimekko (who, if they happen to be looking for someone to do a sponsored post, I happen to know an available blogger *hint, hint*).