Pretty much everyone dreams of visiting the Nordic countries, going far up north in the cold weather, and seeing the wonder of the Aurora Borealis…
When I had the chance to visit Finland, although I knew I wouldn’t be able to see the Northern Lights, I still couldn’t refuse heading north.
My initial plan with my husband was to visit Helsinki and from there, move onto the western city of Turku. However, because of the overlay during the flight, we only arrived in Helsinki quite late in the afternoon.
So we took a train from the airport, directly to Turku, as we only had a couple days. I also opted for only three cameras, due to the quick visit. I mostly used my Leica M4-P with the Lomography Minitar 1 Art Lens. I also had my Lomo LC-A+ and the Lomo Instant Automat with me.
Turku is considered the oldest city in Finland. It is located in the southwest of Finland, right along the Aura River. It was founded in the 13th Century and served as the country’s capital until the end of 1840s. So it has a very impressive history with some of the oldest surviving medieval buildings in Finland.
The city is divided by Aura River. On one side of the river is the Turku Cathedral and on the other side is the Turku Castle, which is one of the main attractions in the country, a wonderful example of medieval architecture.
We were there towards the end of July, just in time for the Tall Ships Festival. Normally it is not a very crowded city, but the festival received a record number of visitors, so it was very crowded during the weekend we were there.
The river was filled with tall ships, similar to those we see in Pirates of the Caribbean or the fleets in Game of Thrones. Most were built around the 1800s, with some newer ships.
Saturday night there were fireworks to celebrate the festivities. But considering that it only gets dark around midnight, even though the fireworks started at 23:00, it was still light outside.
The Festival’s last day was Sunday, when the ships would start to sail. We didn’t have time to travel to the islands around Turku, to see the ships open their majestic sails. We did however see them setting sail to the open sees, from the Aura River.
It was a very impressive passage, each ship passing through the river, some singing or cheering as they reached the mouth of the river, setting sails for a voyage to Lithuania.
I was using the Minitar 1 Art Lens 2.8/32. Before this trip, I had tested different lenses on my Leica, including the wide angle Russar+ from Lomography, but decided that it was too wide. But as I was taking photos of these gigantic ships, I kind of wished I had the Russar+ with me.
Anyone who knows me would know I have a thing for cemeteries. In every country I go, I tend to visit a large cemetery if I have a chance. I didn’t break my cycle this time either.
I took a bus, or Foli, as the locals call it, and went to the Turku Cemetery. I must say that most of my photos were shots there! I was planning to only spend half an hour or so, before I headed back to the centre to walk around the Turku Kauppahalli and the market square.
But every time I turned a corner, there were more roads opening up in front of me, with more statues to see and peaceful passages to walk through. I ended up sending an hour and a half, but I thoroughly enjoyed the peacefulness. There were only a few staff around, so I was by myself, walking, listening to the birds and the sprinklers.
After I returned to the centre, on our last afternoon, we did visit the Turku Kauppahalli and the market square. Market Square is an open area, with different vendors selling fruits, vegetables, flowers…
The Kauppahalli is a closed market hall, opened towards the end of 1890s. It is the second oldest market hall in Finland. There are bakeries, cheese shops, butchers, etc. It is a great location for buying local foods and has very nice architecture. We didn’t shop, but still went around the stalls and checked out the different kinds of foods.
Although I didn’t get to see the Aurora Borealis, or visit Santa in Lapland, it was still a very nice holiday, and hopefully I’ll get to visit up north again and experience these beauties as well!
- For more of Nural’s pics, check out her LomoHome