Sunday, July 3, 2011

Honeymoon Day 8 – June 8 – Helsinki, Finland

We didn’t dock at Helsinki until noon, so Jeff and I made up on sleep by staying in bed until lunch time. We made a quick stop by the buffet, and headed into town. Unlike Tallinn, there was a fair amount of walking that we needed to do to get into Helsinki – probably about a mile to get off the dock and then another mile or two through town to get to the historic center. But the exercise is good for us, and the market square area was really cool. We got pictures with famous buildings, made a quick detour to H&M, and then headed to the Upenski Cathedral, one of the iconic buildings in Helsinki, across a little bridge from the main area. It was really cool, but seemed kind of small. But I learned on this trip that in Russian Orthodox churches the congregation stands the whole time, and I guess you could fit a lot of people standing.

After that we headed back through the market and stopped for a meal of assorted Reindeer meat – a reindeer meatball, reindeer bratwurst, reindeer hotdog, and reindeer hamburger. They were all really pretty good.

After our snack, it was already time to start making our way back to the ship. We walked through a park in the middle of a divided street, called Esplanadi, which reminded me a lot of Commonwealth Street in Boston. Then we walked and a cute little tree-lined street with shops and some houses, which reminded me of Newbury Street. And then Jeff saw a Toscanini’s – I don’t think this one was an icecream shop like the one in Boston, but it was still pretty funny since we’d been talking about the similarities between the two cities.

Jeff and I got a bit worried about making it to the cruise ship on time, since it was a long walk, and we didn’t totally know where we’re going. I wonder how often they leave people at ports? It seems improbable that they’re always able to get 2300 people back onto the ship on time, with no one loosing track of time or getting lost, and you can’t wait forever. Then again, it seems like it’s a pretty big deal to abandon people (though less of a big deal than when you’re on a Caribbean cruise and you’re on a beach in the middle of nowhere). Luckily we made it with time to spare – it was another 20 minutes or so until the ship pulled away.

We had a bit of time to relax, and then we headed to the Honeymoon and Anniversary Cocktail Party with the Captain. The invitation to this party came with the gift that Brian and Emily had given us for the wedding. It was really cute. They took a picture of us in front of a wedding cake, champagne, and bowls of white Jordan almonds (an Italian wedding tradition).

They served champagne and hor d’eaurves, and sat everyone at little tables-for-two in the theater while musicans sang love songs and love quotes came up on the big screens. The people next to us were celebrating their 50th anniversary, and they wished us luck. The wife said that she hoped we’d be as happy as they’ve been, which I thought was really sweet.

The captain then had everyone renew their vows. First he had all of the Italian speakers stand up, and read their vows in Italian, then all of the Germans, English-speakers, etc. It was really cute.

Then it was off to dinner, which proved to be another exciting theme. It was Italian night, so all of the waiters were wearing big aprons with pictures of Italy. A guy with a big painted on mustache and a pizza on a platter walked around and took a picture with each person. Then they blasted Italian music and the waiters danced with each of the people in their section. Then they started another song and had long conga lines going all over the restaurant, headed by waiters with lots of people behind. It was all really fun.

On the way out of dinner, I got a tissue paper rose and Jeff got a tissue paper red-white-and-green bowtie in honor of Italian night. We watched people learn to dance an Italian dance, and then we headed back to our room for another night out on the balcony!

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