We caught the train from a warm and sunny Liverpool morning to a rather stifling Manchester afternoon, where we took a walk around.
We went to Manchester Town Hall, a massive neo-gothic pile that will probably be worth a look through when it reopens in 2024. 2024 - that’s a big renno!
Then came the John Rylands Library, another philanthropic gesture from an extremely rich mill owner’s wife.
Actually, the library is a magnificent building, complete with a beautiful and incredibly atmospheric public reading room. Now part of the University of Manchester, it is still a free public reference library.
A short flight a day later brought us to Helsinki, where we met up with Don and Kim and installed ourselves in an apartment for two nights.
After a look around Senate Square, with the Cathedral dominant from high above and beautiful civic buildings all around, we then marvelled at the markets, all full of brightly coloured fresh produce and Finnish-looking souvenirs.
We caught the ferry out to the Suomenlinna Island Fortress and wandered extensively around, enjoying the views and appreciating the fortifications and guns and stuff. It was built in 1748 by the Swedes and completely failed as a line of defence against the Russians, who the ran the place until 1918. Only then did Finland gain its independence.
Then we did a tram trip out through the ‘burbs, stopping at Temppeliaukion, the Rock Church, hewn out of the bedrock and a very interesting and beautiful building. The copper and glass ceiling was quite incredible.
Tomorrow morning we have shopping to do, as in the afternoon we enter Russia -the world of the Cyrillic alphabet - and won’t be able to read a single thing.
Next post (hopefully) will be St Petersburg.Read more