The third port on our big trip was recently listed as one of the world’s most livable, and the country of Finland appeared on another rated as one of the world’s most peaceful.

After our far too short visit, I completely understand both rankings.  Helsinki seems to have a great positive energy to it, unlike the negative, even aggressive energy of many cities I’ve visited.

People, even those dressed for business, were very friendly and never seemed to be in any particular hurry.  On this sunny day, one our mid-Atlantic US-tuned bodies found a little chilly, people were out in parks and on the water enjoying a nice summer day.

Sibelius Monument

The shore excursion we selected was a little more bus ride than I would have liked but it give us a good overview of the city and the guide offered some wonderful insights to the history and culture of the area.

On the down side, I didn’t take nearly as many pictures as in the other places we visited.

Finland is very much tied to Sweden having been ruled by that country for 600 years until the Russians took over in 1809. Even today, both Swedish and Finnish are official languages with both being used for street signs and government documents.

They are very wary of the Russians, however, both as a result of fighting the Soviet Union during World War II and tensions during the Cold War.

Anyway, beyond seeing a part of the world new to us, one of the main reasons for taking this trip and for this particular itinerary is my wife’s love of Scandinavian music and design.

So, one of the stops on the tour paid homage to the Finnish national composer Jean Sebelius, a composer whose compositions she has performed many times. The picture above is the monument to him set in a very peaceful park.

Me? In my head I’m hearing Eric Idle singing “Finland, Finland, Finland. The place where I quite want to be.” :-)

After getting off the bus, we spent the rest of our afternoon in Helsinki wandering around an open air market at the harbor and through some of the downtown stores getting a small glimpse into daily living.

I’m probably repeating myself but, as with our previous two stops on the cruise, one day was not enough and this is definitely one more city I’d like to return to someday.

But for this trip, we were off to our next stop, St. Petersburg, Russia.