Monthly Archives: August 2015

Island Fortress of Helsinki

 Suomenlinna is an old (300 ish years) fortress originally built by Sweden to stop the Russians. It’s a beautiful island that is now rented as apartments. 

Sweden built it to stop the Russians. Finland fought a war with Sweden to become independent.  The Russians took the fortress by trickery. When the Russians had one of their revolutions in about 1917, the Finns took the island back. 

My favorite story of the island is when they used it as a decoy to save Helsinki from Russian bombs in the second world war. They blacked out Helsinki, put lots of lights on the island and 95% of the bombs fell short of the city. 

St. Petersburg 

Russia was a little strange. The only way to get onto Russian soil was to join an organised tour since they included a limited visa for entry into Russia for the period of the tour. 

We were warned that  if you ditched the tour and went exploring on your own then the police are sent to find you. 

Max and I did a canal cruise. 

It was pretty. There was folk music. 

The guide tried to convince us that all the buildings were brightly painted in happy colours. That might have been true for a handful of historic buildings, but there were an awful lot of identical concrete monstrosities too.

Russian history is kinda weird. It seems like there’s a tyrant in power for a while, then he’s killed and everyone tries to destroy everything he stood for. Then it happens again, and again. Of course, now the tyrant is “elected”and haa his face on t-shirts pretending to be an action hero.


Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn has a nice old town section, so we tried to find the castle at the top, but there was only an old church. I’m a bit over old churches.

We did find a picturesque piece of castle wall though.



The first stop of our Baltic Cruise was a relatively small city called Warnemunde. We could have taken the kids to a concentration camp but decided that it was an experience the should be a little older for. Both Shari and I have been to Auchwitz and know how full on it is. 

Instead, we roamed through Warnemunde. We found a nice park and the girls played while the boys climbed a nice old lighthouse. 

The park had a book exchange just sitting in the middle of the park. I think that’s cool. 


Pizza Making in Rome

The kids had a pizza making class in Rome. They really got into making dough and putting their pizzas together in a real pizzeria. Mum and Dad just had to watch while enjoying a glass of vino rosso. The pizza were so yummy.