Saturday, May 28, 2016

Salpa Line Open Air Museum

This is the last of my posts (maybe) about our 2015 trip to Finland, read more here.
 Our last big stop in Finland was the Salpa Line Museum. A portion of a very long string of fortifications intended as a defense against possible Soviet incursions. The swampy lake filled north of Finland offered sufficient natural obstacles, but a very long line of trenches and tank traps were built in the southern part of the border.

Most of the line was left to return to nature, and a hiking trail follows its length. In this spot, however, a few large fortifications remain, and the trenches were shored up. The museum has had to rebuild the wooden retaining walls more than once, a testament to the wet climate.

 There were several underground cement bunkers, some were spotting and gunner posts, one was equipped with a major anti-tank weapon.

All were cunningly hidden in the landscape, and of course 70 years of moss and lichen would obscure them completely without caretakers.

One was a living quarter, with small bunks, a stove, and privy. It even had blast doors to seal one's self in, and grenade tubes for tossing out into enemy-filled hallways.

 Down a steep and slippery staircase was an almost working gun (presumably firing pins and such were removed). It had an impressive sighting mechanism, cranks to move it up and down or side to side, and a simple compass drawn on the hood in order to communicate to other positions.

 Mr. Crafty and I played with it for rather a long time...

In addition to these larger permanent bunkers there were the remains of several small gunner positions. These would be buried, of course.

The actual tank fortifications were these teeth like rows of large stones. They were quarried nearby and made into long rows to funnel tanks into bottlenecks at the roads. There were also ditches dug, with a sloping side and a drop off, to flip over tanks that tried to cross them. 

 The tank in question, a common Soviet model. Nicely placed so all the gun stations could practice pointing at it!

 A slightly camouflaged gun, further up the road. presumably useful if the first lines of defense did not stop the advance.
 And the big gun! You can see, in this photo, the on-and-off rain we enjoyed all day while walking around. We got slightly soggy, but still had a wonderful time. Even those less interested in the militaria (me!) could enjoy the lovely forest, and walk along the trench lines eating blueberries.
Alright, I think I'm mostly caught up on the last trip *phew* Now, let's get back to this year's adventure!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Reykjavik Street Art

 All throughout Reykjavik are buildings, walls, fences, and electrical boxes adorned with all manner of artistic expression.
 From the hastily scrawled "tag", to the homeowner's DIY design, to the fine artists' fantastical expressions.
 Some are deeply thought and finely designed, others are simple and fun. Some may be social or political commentary.
 But the bright colors and bold designs give the already colorful city an exciting aura, and walking the city center has an air of discovery. Each building can host a hidden image, each garden has decorative pieces, even the sidewalks in some places are adorned.

 Travel blogs have begun! Look for more posts from Iceland and Sweden in the coming weeks!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Finnish Air Force Museum

While on our journeys around Finland we had to swing by every military site we could find (Mr. Crafty is a Military Historian.) We stopped in at the Finnish Air Force Museum, which was filled to the brim with artifacts and machines.
The space was packed with old machines, some were very rare relics dating to the Finnish Civil War. Some were fully restored, some bore the marks of fighting, a few were just pieces dredged up from lakes.
For these planes all that remains in the impressively crafted wood propellers.
 In addition to the machines are a smattering of amusing models, wearing authentic uniforms, and engaging in presumably accurate activities.
 Like doodling at his radio post...
 These guys are my favorite, disseminating leaflets above Leningrad in their winter gear,
 Additionally, there were dozens of dioramas showing historic airfields and planes. Literally hundreds of miniature models were painted in every imaginable design and shapes. Most of the models and dioramas were actually from Japanese Model Clubs!

 Outside the exhibit continues. The newest machines were set out, only barely decommissioned.

Radar arrays from the Cold War also were set up with diagrams explaining their use in the lakelands of Finland.