Sunday, September 02, 2012

Helsinki - sightseeing and boat tour

The conference is over, so today was a day off and I had a closer look at Helsinki. I passed St. John's church, a Lutheran church, which at that moment held mass, so I couldn't see the inside.

I passed Atlas (?) holding not the celestial sphere, but a balcony
and, as you all know, Hercules took over Atlas' job, so Atlas could help him get the golden apples from Hera's garden:

Then I went back to the National Museum since last time I had no time to visit the Finnish Sami folk section. I loved the 'grandmother' clock :)

A shaman's grave with magic drum, but also a Christian cross:

A fashionable handbag made from a waterfowl foot
If you need to buy wedding rings, why not consider some rings made from svan's trachea; eco-sensitive, natural materials, fashionable, and endurable - although not exactly suitable for vegetarians:
On the way back to the city centre I ran over some art (which is not too difficult in Helsinki). Some art is outdoors:
Others is indoors:
There inevitably comes a time when you get hungry (especially if you missed the breakfast time at the hotel). Finland is about as bad for vegans as Germany. In the city centre there are only two vegan coffee shops/bistros and only one is open on Sundays. So I went to Vegemesta which is an all vegetarian fast food restaurant and has some vegan options. It had a bit of a rancid smell about it and the tiny place looked a bit scruffy, but you can't be picky in Helsinki and the hot dog with sweet potato fries I had were yummy enough :)

Well fed, I went to the harbour and made a boat tour (the 'beautiful canal route') through the many islands that lie before Helsinki.
Where there are beaches, there are also little saunas lining the beach; this is one of the larger ones:
Some islands are connected to the mainland via bridges, others are not and the inhabitants need boats ... or even better a waterplane:
A small channel with a traffic light:
The summer residence of Helsinki's fleet of icebreakers:
Towards evening it got cold and windy on the boat and a warm pulla (cardamom bun) with coffee saved me from freezing:
After being back it quickly became dark and I will have to end my Helsinki tour with a look at the central railway station; here you can see the 'Stone Men' by Emil Wikström, erected 1914. 
And a last look at the cathedral:


Saturday, September 01, 2012

Helsinki - Last Conference Day and Aida

I think you had enough archaeology yesterday, so I don't want to bother you with any more of it. I just want to add that you can not only learn something about archaeology on such conferences, but also general skills, like making attractive posters:

or effectively presenting them:

Since the Unicafé was closed today we went to the harbour and had some food at one of the market stalls ... nearly vegan. Fried veggies and potatoes with garlic mayonaise:

After all this archaeology I think I deserved some culture, so off I went to the Finnish National Opera. I had a ticket for Verdi's Aida.
The opera house is very modern, with costumes from previous productions all over the place:
The National Opera's web page describes their Aida in the following way:
Verdi's Aida is a magnificent and spectacular grand opera but also a sensitive and intimate tale of the forbidden love of an Egyptian military commander and an Ethiopian slave.
The poor guy is torn between an ageing Egyptian princess and an Ethiopian princess taken prisoner in an even worse state (in the text Rhadames says that Aida is "in the flower of youth"). Claire Rutter who performed as Aida keeps her age a web secret, but the unflattering costume lets us guess her age at around fifty. Where is the young generation of singers and why can't they take the roles of young people in an opera??? Here you can see the 'young' women fighting for their man (all photos are from the official Facebook site of the National Opera):
"The Finnish National Opera brings one of the best-known works in the opera repertoire to the stage in a stylish fashion."

Yes, stylish indeed. It breaths the decadent atmosphere of the 1920s and the zenana had more similarities with a nightclub. Toyboys with transparent overalls, lesbians, you get it.

"Director Georg Rootering and his team have retained the original story, but they also wanted to highlight the universal nature of the narrative."

Which is: decadent societies are also likely to commit atrocities and war crimes? At least I hope that all the scenes of raping done by the victorious soldiers must have been there for a reason. And all the prisoners in Guantanamo outfit were obviously the desperate bid to make the opera topical for our time ... I guess.

Here is Rhadames "young in years" all lovey-dovey

The only thing I still don't get, is: why did Rhadames start strangling his love objects every now and then? Maybe someone can help out...
To make things even I have to add that the music was good, lovely harp in the orchestra, the singing was in general good, too, and the wine during the break was equally nice.