Instead of Savonlinna and the opera, we traveled to Tallinn.
Savonlinna is an old castle in eastern Finland that hosts operas on it's grounds in the summertime. Outside.
The Magic Flute and Aida were playing about the time we would be in Finland. We decided back in May to leave it open and not commit to getting tickets (tres expensive!). Instead, our plan was go see the castle and then see if any no-show tickets were available.
Once we arrived in Helsinki, we looked up the train tables and found the journey to be over 4 hours away, necessitating an overnight stay, only to find all the hotels booked.
We changed plans and went to Tallinn instead on the hydroplane boat.
The regular ferry covers the 50 miles between Helsinki and Tallinn in about 4 hours. The hydroplane boat - about 1.5 hours - or so they say. Ours took just over 2 hours due to a bit of rough sea.
In fact, our return ferry was cancelled due to ?. No explanation really. When we tried to call, the signal was busy. When we arrived back at the ferry office, four clerks manned the counter in a surly russian way giving out no explanation other than to catch the next ferry and obviously not answering any phones. We speculated there were not enough passengers taking that particular ferry back and they arbitrarily cancelled it so as to not waste high-priced fuel.
|Tourist Shop Mainstays. Russian Nesting Dolls.|
The part of Tallinn that we saw was the touristy old medieval walled city. It was a wonderful walking tour. I followed Rick Steve's walking tour which takes about 3 -4 hours and is just about the right amount of time to spend on evil cobblestones.
|My lunch: Smoked Chicken Salad|
|Oompa Loompas occupied Tallinn|
|I love this view up the street with St. Nicholas Church in the background.|
One of our guidebooks made a joke about the Russian buildings made of Micro Cement: 60 % cement, 40% microphones.
We did go into several of the shops only to find uniform touristy merchandising. Every shop stocked the same goods. All of the 'linen' or 'handicraft' shops stocked machine-embroidered cloths, some with goofy cows. I can only speculate that the embroidery machine software came with the basic goofy cow.
This was a great addition to our trip to Sweden & Finland and I can highly recommend Tallinn as a destination and also Rick Steve's Walking Tour.
Below is a slideshow of more photos. I am trying this picassa album out to see if everyone can see it, view it, without overwhelming the blog platform. Let me know if it's great or downright un-viewable.
Looks like the link broke. I stumbled my way into re-doing it at end of post. :-)
**The pharmacy in the town square which is the oldest continuously operating pharmacy in the world? Since before 1422 anyway. You can buy aspirin here as well as suntan lotion or just view the pharmacy museum.
**Do NOT take photos inside the churches. How do I know this? Do you really need to ask how I know? (twice!)
** Our lunch was fairly inexpensive - about 5 euro each plus 1.60 euro for water!
**My host mom's friend recommended a linen shop at K.A. Hermanni Street. It's just a bit outside the medieval area but we didn't find time to go. Supposed to offer authentic Estonian craft.