Saturday, July 18, 2015

Painted Postcards - Suomenlinna and Estonia

Another round of cards done! I'll need to really hop on these to send to my whole list before I leave!
 A tiny house, on a tiny island, in the bay near Helsinki

 Bunkers and gun posts on Suomenlinna, Helsinki across the water.

Ruins of the University Church in Tartu

 A tree lined road at the Manor in Oluvestere.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Finland Travels - Suomenlinna Islands

 On our third day in Finland we found our way out to the island of Suomenlinna, or Sveaborg as the Swedes call it. It is a group of islands in the Bay of Helsinki, the swedes built a fortress complex from 1748-54 to serve as a defense point against the Russians. Complete with cannon bays on all sides facing the water.
 Fortress walls with cannon positions evenly spaced. The walls are built in the "Star" style with protrusions at the corners of the fortress and long solid walls. It didn't work. The Russians took the island eventually and used it themselves.
 Inside the cannon positions. Large stone rooms with earthen floors and tiny ports looking out. Nice and cool in the heat of the day, rather dark, and with stalactites starting to form from the dripping of water .
After Finns gained independence from Russia, POWs were put to work restoring the fortress walls. The old tunnels are surprisingly sturdy and well maintained.

The island is a very popular summer destination, this was a rare shot of the main route through the fortress when it was not clogged with Chinese tour groups! Finns seem to come for picnics, and they hang out on the beaches and wild spaces.

 During WWII (The Continuation War, as the Finns call it.) a series of modern positions were added, anti-aircraft guns and naval guns. Each one had a protected position, crew shelters, and ammunition caches.
 This is a naval gun installed during the Russian period, probably about the middle of the 19th century.

 Troop shelters built under each position. Each one was a short curving tunnel, lined with stone. Rather nice and cool on a hot day!
 My boyfriend, the military history enthusiast,  pontificating. These are the protected positions where the guns would be mounted.

 Lovely little hillocks, with a less than lovely purpose. Nature is taking back her island.
 A powder magazine for ammo storage. These were very large and went rather deep back into the hill. Despite the rough look, they are not that deteriorated inside.

 The Finnish WWII submarine, Vesikko. Note the ice-breaking points and the black and white camo stripes.
 Inside the submarine, three torpedo bays in front. It was a very tight space! Supposedly 20 men would have served in the sub, which would have been awfully tight quarters. With untrained tourist, 5 people was stuffy...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Painted Postcards - Iceland

In my downtime on the trip (Ha!) I'm starting to paint postcards for folks back home. It's hard to decide what kind of nice view will be good for painting, and what is interesting enough to receive it in the mail! I've been idealizing a bit, which solves problems of lighting, and of course all those (other) pesky tourist standing in the way.
 This first batch is Iceland! A lovely vintage boat a the Maritime Museum.
 The view of Hallgrimskirkja from the Perler - the water tower for the whole city. Funny thing - since it's all geothermal heat, the hot water actually arrives in the house in a separate pipe, it flows through radiators for heat and makes every shower into a hot springs. Pretty awesome!

Looking out across the Bay from downtown Reykjavik. It was a short swing through this wonderful city, I will have to make plans to return again!