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Choosing a country just because never been there? Finland?Portugal?

Choosing a country just because never been there? Finland?Portugal?

Old Dec 7th, 2002, 12:09 AM
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Choosing a country just because never been there? Finland?Portugal?

I'm considering going next spring (2003) either to a place that I've been before or trying a new country. Finland and Portugal are 2 countries that I haven't been to. Can anyone make a strong argument to visit Helsinki, Turku, or Lisbon?
Old Dec 7th, 2002, 12:35 AM
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Lisbon - its colourful, historic and good food. Make a side trip to Oporto as well.
Old Dec 7th, 2002, 03:04 AM
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For our anniversary my wife said she wanted to go somewhere she's never been before.

I said "Try the kitchen."
Old Dec 7th, 2002, 04:45 AM
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You wopuld love Lisbon in the spring. Warm,not to crowded and plenty to do. Great day trips to Sintra,museums,good food. I have not been to Helsinki or turku,so I can't compare. But you would not be disappointed w/Lisbon.
Old Dec 7th, 2002, 06:46 AM
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I was in Scandinavia for the last two weeks this past June. I spent two nights in Turku and three nights in Helsinki.

Turku is very much a seafaring town. A river runs through the city and it is lined with boats. Private boats, barges converted to restaurants and bars, ships made into museums and excursion boats too. Try to make time to take an excursion into the archipelago. I came through it on a cruise ship from Stockholm and it's beautiful.

The main plaza has a nice market in the mornings. The church bordering it has an excellent collection of religious paintings that are covered with the ornate metal work that leaves only faces and hands exposed. A bit out of town but walkable is an ancient fortress. It has an extensive collection of antique and historic Finnish items in it.

The modern art/archeological museum was interesting. It used to be just a modern art museum until the ground breaking for an expansion. They discovered a portion of the old city buried and incorporated it into the complex. It was really interesting to see. There's an 1800's historic village within walking distance of the downtown that is fun to tour. Look for the WWII gunfire damage preserved on a wall of the main post office.

I say a temporary exhibit at an observatory that overlooks the city. The main art museum was closed for remodeling. Hopefully it will be open soon.

I stayed at the Centro Hotel in Turku. It was reasonable, very clean and comfortable. Two blocks of the main plaza but back in a courtyard so it was quiet.

Helsinki had a lot to see and do. The Kiasma modern art museum was good and had free internet access. The art museum has a large collection worth seeing with several paintings by Munch. See the Sebilius monument if you get a chance. It's pretty, as is the church in the rock. They have quite a few musical events scheduled in the church, try to see one if you can. The cathedral on the main square is gorgeous. It's clean Lutheran lines are quite a contrast to the over-the-top ornateness of many Roman Catholic cathedrals.

There's a tram (3T I think) that makes a loop around the city. Makes it easy to see and go do stuff that's a little far for walking. In the Embassy district is a small museum in what used to be the owner's house. Nice collection with pretty views.

You can slam-dunk through Suomolinna in a half day. It's an island about 30 minutes by boat from the city center. If you can allot a full day for the island. There's a visitors' center with overview film, a WWII submarine to tour, an artillery museum and a WWII museum. It's really pretty to walk around and see all the boats moored there. One of the areas was rebuilding an old wooden sailing vessel that was interesting to see. There are plenty of little places to stop for refreshment. The pizza in the main part of the fortress the furthest from the city dock was a very nice lunch.

This was a rail trip through Scandinavia so I did not see anything between Turku & Helsinki. Next time I'll rent a car so I can follow the historic route between the two. I'd love to see the villages along the way.

Other plusses: Really long days around the solstice, 20 hours of light then 4 hours of twilight. Everyone, I mean everyone, spoke English. They use the Euro. Not as hot as the Mediterranean in the summer. Less expensive than Sweden, and much less expensive than Norway.
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