Finland – Turku

Turku, with a population of about 180,000, lies on the Aura River, along the coast in southwest Finland.  Established in the 13th century, it was the capital of Finland until 1812, when as a Grand Duchy of Russia, the capital was moved to Helsinki.  Also known as Åbo in Swedish, it is a bi-lingual city, with 3% of the population having Swedish as their mother tongue.  There are 3 major universities with about 30,000 students.  The largest archipelago in the world, the Archipelago Sea, lies between Finland and Sweden.  Cruise ships sail back and forth between Turku and Sweden daily.

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After saying good-bye to the summer house, we headed to Turku.  Jouko was born here and grew up not far away.  Niklas and Julian have each spent a year at the same place.  So we have a number of friends and relatives in the area.

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As they went off to visit their friends, I wandered the city. I love visiting the markets, with their colors and fresh produce.

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I also wanted to see the “Halli” – the beautiful indoor market I remember visiting when shopping with Jouko’s mother.

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I wandered ‘home’ along the river with it’s restaurants and cafes……

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….some of which are in old ships.

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  Hearing some music, I followed the sounds to find some street dancing.  The road had been cordoned off and there was a trailer set up with a live band.  Quaint!

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The following day the 3 of us went out to tour the old part of the city.  We started by visiting the Turku Cathedral, where Jouko’s grandparents were married here in 1905

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While still in the Cathedral I snapped this photo – an example of the Finnish language 😵  The literal translation is “stopping place”, but the understanding is that it is a place of contemplation.

While planning this trip to Finland, I expressed a wish to visit places I had never had a chance to previously visit while visiting family.  Now I wanted to be the tourist.

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Many of the beautifully preserved buildings near the Cathedral house branches the University.

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We strolled around enjoying the warm atmosphere generated by the well preserved wooden architecture.

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On the way back to our digs, we stopped at a cafe opposite the Opera House.

… χ …

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After we had already left Turku for Helsinki, we returned for one day to join Jouko’s cousin and her husband who were hosting a family reunion.

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When these two married, they united 4 prominent families in the Finnish church & thought that it would be fun to get everyone together.  Tytti is a retired piano teacher from the Turku Music Conservatory and Erkki is a retired family physician.

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60 people fit in to this lovely hall for a delicious meal while reminiscing and meeting people we had not seen in decades.

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We managed to get a group photo with some of the attendees. Relatives came from Brazil, Canada, the US, Germany and Sweden. I personally met someone I had not seen since I was a teenager & of course back then we had no idea that one day we would be relatives!  We also met one of the two girls that helped Jouko & I get together at Newbold College, England.

-♦-♦-♦-

Next:  Riga, Latvia

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