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Today was Helsinki. I don’t know what to say about this port: it wasn’t very memorable. It was certainly attractive enough. We went ashore mid-morning via the shuttle bus from the berth at ‘Melki’, down in the south-west corner of the city into the centre. We then walked up to one the attractions we’d been advised of, the Rock Church, which was about a mile away or so. It was quite an attractive walk and took us through some of the busy parts of the city, but when we got to the Rock Church it was less impressive than we’d expected. (Apologies to anyone who has a more positive view of this place.) In fact we would have been quite disappointed if, by chance, we hadn’t caught a (mainly female) youth choir doing a performance. Unaccompanied voices – soprano, alto and tenor (there were a few older boys) – this was an unexpected delight. But even with that we were there for barely 15 minutes.

So we walked back into town and found an indoor restaurant just opposite the main cathedral where we had a soup and salad lunch which was excellent. Then into the cathedral (the Lutheran cathedral), and again we were in and out in under 15 minutes. It’s a lovely, harmonious building – basilica style and layout – but being Lutheran it’s very plain inside. Then we walked down to the waterfront and strolled along it, and it was certainly very pleasant, but not what you’d call really memorable. I’d promised Val a glass of wine and we eventually found somewhere for that, and that was in a nice older style of building. Then we did a bit more walking to a small park overlooking the sea before heading back to the bus. We were back on board just after four o’clock.

I think our problem here was that we never found the ‘one thing’ to do well; we just strolled around. At least the weather was good – unbroken sunshine and quite warm. Down by the sea there was a bit of a breeze, but it was never cold.

So my opinion of Helsinki is: attractive city, well laid out, clean, tidy and safe, but not very memorable. Perhaps we just didn’t do the right things or get to the right places. Sorry, Helsinki.

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