I’d heard that a military parade was taking place this morning in Senate Square so we decided to go along and see what was happening. Arriving at the cathedral, people were already starting to gather on the cathedral steps. Over the years we’ve attended various different types of events here, and the stone steps provide an excellent viewing platform.
The band of the Finnish Defence Force performed a short concert and a guard parade, marching across the square. This ceremonial performance dates back to the eighteenth century. The ceremony included a colourful parade along the cobbled streets of central Helsinki and includes the changing of the guard outside the Presidential Palace.
After enjoying the concert and watching the procession we decided to take a look in the nearby large Stockmann department store. It’s a joy to shop here and you can find almost anything you desire. There’s even a Hamley’s toy shop concession on the top floor. In the basement you will find a huge food hall with a vast array of produce, all beautifully displayed. The staff are all very helpful and wear little metal badges with flags on indicating which languages they speak. It’s our last full day in Finland so I wanted to buy some gifts to take back home.
Bulevardi (the Boulevard in English) starts across the road at Erottoja and extends as far as Hietalahti This tree lined avenue has some fine buildings and amongst them is the Alexander Theatre which was formerly the home of the Finnish National Opera and was built in 1879. We also passed Old Church Park and church which is a popular place for young people to relax in the gardens with their friends.
Nearby we came across Cafe Ekberg a beautiful, old, traditional cafe and one I have fond memories of as when I first visited Helsinki as a visiting teacher, the university’s international co-ordinator brought me here one afternoon for tea and cakes. Glancing inside, their cakes looked as delicious as ever, I must pop in again next time I’m over.
Our walk neared its end at Hietalahti where a flea market was taking place outside the market hall, these take place regularly in the summer months. After browsing the stalls awhile we returned to the centre by tram.