Sunday, May 9, 2010

Helsinki and Äitienpäivä

Today the flags are flying for Mothers Day, Äitienpäivä. Things are quiet here as everybody naps on a wet, cloudy day in Turku.

I had my mother's day fun yesterday. We went to Helsinki. We had not visited Helsinki together and I was afraid we were running out of time. I love taking the train. We usually have seats facing each other with a table and it is a very pleasant way to travel together. The snacks appear before the train leaves the Turku station, of course.

We headed for the Helsinki zoo on the island of Korkeasaari. The zoo is 121 years old and known for its snow leopards. It doesn't have the usual large African mammals, like elephants, because of the cold winter climate. It was a raw day and we had the place to ourselves. We wandered around the chilly island and were even invited "backstage" to see young snakes that hatched last year. The keeper told us that the hatchlings would be donated to other zoos. The zoo was recently in the news when the flamingos were killed by a fox after being left outside.

We took the bus back to the train station and walked towards the kauppatori. On the way past Ateneum we were lured into an exhibition of camera obscura. There was a walk-in camera obscura, a camera obscura in a large can that went over your head, and even a camera obscura in an old pram.

Our next destination was the National Library of Finland. I have wanted to visit the library since I won a book about the collections. The interior is beautiful and Chris and I viewed the small Kalevala exhibition. We then split up.

Chris went to Suomenlinna, but Sophia and I went to the Sinebrychoff Museum to see the mysterious Caravaggio exhibit. The Caravaggio exhibit includes two St. Francis in Meditation paintings. At first glance the paintings appear to be identical, but the exhibition showed xrays and an explanatory movie about the differences between the 2 paintings. Sophia was very interested in looking for the differences. She noticed a patch of darker material on St. Francis that was not on the other St. Francis. There are some articles on the web hypothesizing that Caravaggio may have used the camera obscura as a tool for painting.

The Sinebrychoff Museum had some other wonderful exhibits on Venice, Carnival, and the Commedia dell'arte. We went through the entire museum listening to the flute and piano concert on the second floor.

We headed back to the station to meet Chris and ride home. The two statues above are part of the train station, an architectural marvel designed by Eliel Saarinen.

Happy Mothers' Day Marilyn and Rosalyn!

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