July 28, 2018
This morning we docked in Helsinki, Finland. We met the tour guide Ritva just outside the security area and loaded into the Mercedes van. And just like the past two days, the air conditioning in the vehicles did not work well. It was hotter than normal and we were all sweating for most of the day. Most of Europe was warmer than normal.
It was a short day as there was only time for the city tour, but the port is pretty close to the city center. We rode the van into town. The summit with Putin and Trump was in Helsinki a few weeks ago and that was all the locals could talk about. It was probably the most interesting think that had happened there in a while.
We stopped in the city center and looked inside the main Lutheran church. 70% of the Finnish citizens are Lutheran, but nobody goes to church. The guide was telling us that the government and the people are worried about their social programs because of the low birth rate and declining population. The birth rate is only 1.3, about half of what is needed to maintain a population. They have many expensive social programs and soon they will not have enough tax payers to pay the bills. The average age in Finland is 49 yo, but the most common age is 62 yo. So they are quickly going to have a problem paying for their social programs.
We walked the city center and looked at a lot of statues. It seems that Finland has been taken over by many countries over the years. Though out the years they have been part of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Russia. There are two official language, Swedish and Finnish. All the road signs are in both languages and in the west part of the country, Swedish is used more than Finnish.
We stopped at the market area near the wharf. We had some free time to shop and Eva bought a carry bag. Most of the stuff was really expensive. A pint of Raspberries a was 5 Euros ($6).
Our next stop was the Olympic Park where the summer games were held in 1952. It was scheduled for 1940, but due to WWII, they delayed the games until 1952. We also drove by the Finnish president’s house. It was a large home, but no real security that we could see and you could drive right by it. There is a pre-school right next door.
Next we stopped at an island with an outdoor museum that showed how life was in Finland years ago. We were the only ones who scheduled that tour, so the guide stayed with us while the rest of them rode back to the ship. We stayed about an hour and walked around and saw old buildings that they had moved from other areas of Finland to show how people lived hundreds of years ago. It was interesting how they used wood for everything. After our time on the island, the bus picked us up and we were back to the ship by 2:30.
Since we had missed lunch, we ate a snack and then went back to the room and took a 30 minute nap and showered. We had reservations for the Cirquie Dream Jungle Fantasy show. It was a dinner show that cost $48 each, but we had $100 of on-board credit, so we used that to pay for the dinner. We had reserved this dinner show earlier, but then we got notice that we were selected to eat dinner with an officer from the ship. So we had 2 dinners for the evening. We went to the Cirquie show at 5:15 pm and ate some of the dinner. We then went to the officer’s dinner at 6:50 pm and ate dinner again.
The circus show was really interesting and fun to watch. They had amazing acrobats, jugglers and other acts that were amazing to watch. It was really fun. It was over by 6:45 pm and we hurried out to meet the group for the officer’s dinner. We ate at the same restaurant that we have been eating at the past few nights. There were two officers for dinner. We ate with Sonja, the customer service manager from Montenego and the art gallery manager, Shaina, from California. The other guests were two couples from Israel. They were both from near Televiv. They were all very interesting and live a difference life than we do. We did not get done with dinner until about 10 pm, so we went to bed after that.