Just a few final photos from the Baltic holiday: these show going through the Kiel Canal , a shortcut to the Baltic from the North Sea and then Helsinki, Finland, Copenhagen, Denmark and finally Kristiansand at the Southern tip of Norway.First the Kiel canal.
We had great weather and saw some lovely houses and farmland along the way.
HELSINKI , FINLAND
Helsinki, Finland ranks as continental Europe's northernmost capital.
It lies on Finland's south coast, hard against the Gulf of Finland – the easternmost arm of the Baltic Sea. Helsinki is a small, modern, friendly and very expensive city.
It is not touched by the dramatic flow of migrants that concerns most European cities, nor by economic crisis and unemployment is not a big issue.
The OECD has rated the Finnish education system among the best in the world and it is free of charge up to university level. The same excellence level is found in health and public transport systems.
Helsinki is among the less polluted urban areas in Europe. It aims at making its lakes’ water drinkable in the next few years.
Display of bunting " flags" from old shirts and clothes - great idea.
Heaven only knows what this phrase means but the contrast between the two faces is lovely.
Human nature shows yet another aspect of its guise "in extremis"
This huge Lutheran church in the Senate Square of Helsinki was a central meeting point for many.
Russia conquered Finland in 1808 and remodelled the city as a sibling to St Petersburg.
The statue shows Tsar Alexander II, Finland's ruler between 1855 and 1881, surveying what was once his realm.
Beautiful fresh raspberries on market stall
Arctic fox fur and reindeer hides in the vibrant market at the harbour Helsinki.
Why anyone would want to adorn themselves in these beats me.
Changing the guard
We visited the striking underground Lutheran Rock Church ( TheTemppeliaukio)
which is built inside of a massive block of natural granite in the middle of an ordinary residential square. Annoyingly, my camera battery ran out at this point so I am relying on second hand google images for the photos of this church.
It is barely visible from the outside, with only a copper dome poking out of the rock, that looks like a flying saucer.
Inside, the church is circular and enclosed by walls of bare rock which makes for excellent acoustics and thus hosts many classical concerts.The ceiling is a giant disc made of copper wire.
Natural light streams through 180 vertical window panes.
Yes, the song is true. Wonderful wonderful Copenhagen...
The city is one of Europe's oldest capitals with a royal touch - the monarchy in Denmark is the oldest in the world!
It is a friendly city with impressive architecture.
Like so many of the places we visited in the Baltic Copenhagen is a place that thrives on its relationship with its waterways.
Tivoli Gardens- we spent hours in here !! It was like living a second childhood ...
Right in the heart of Copenhagen this wonderful garden which opened in 1843 is like a fairy tale village, full of amusements and enchantment.
It has everything from roller coasters to theatres, romantic gourmet restaurants, cafés, bars, magnificent flowers and outdoor stages where local and international stars perform throughout the season.
Oh no, he gets everywhere.
This is one of the more gentle rides as some of them were truly terrifying.
There was some sort of festival/competition for hats and costumes made from wild flowers and this little guy on the stage had his own ideas of what headgear he thought was cool.
Magical day ....
just messing about on a boat
Every day there is a parade of junior guards
To really live like a local in this town you need to cycle. You can hire bikes free (with a 20kr deposit) if you can find one of the city's drop-off points, and hire places are everywhere.
Copenhagen's commitment to decent cycle lanes is impressive.
One of the quirkiest places we visited in Copenhagen was a hippie commune on the outskirts called Christiana.
Christiania, also known as Freetown Christiania is a self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood of about 850 residents.
The area has a unique status in that it is regulated by a special law, the Christiania Law of 1989 which transfers parts of the supervision of the area from the municipality of Copenhagen to the state.
It was closed by residents in April 2011, whilst discussions continue with the Danish government as to its future but was open when we visited.
Christiania has been a source of controversy since its creation in 1971.Its cannabis trade was tolerated by authorities until 2004. Since then, measures for normalising the legal status of the community have led to conflicts, and negotiations are ongoing. We saw plenty openly on sale.
The people in Christiania have developed their own set of rules, independent of the Danish government.
The rules forbid stealing, violence, guns, knives, bulletproof vests, hard drugs and biker's colours.
Famous for its main drag, known as Pusher Street, where hash is sold openly, it nevertheless has rules forbidding 'hard drugs'.
The hash commerce is controversial, but since the rules require a consensus they cannot be removed unless everybody agrees.
The region negotiated an arrangement with the Danish defence ministry (which still owns the land) in 1995. Since 1994, residents have paid taxes and fees for water, electricity, trash disposal, etc. The future of the area remains in doubt, though, as Danish authorities continue to push for its removal.
The flag of Christiania is red with three yellow discs representing the dots in the "i"s in "Christiania".
The colours were supposedly chosen because when the original squatters took over the former military base, they reportedly found a large amount of red and yellow paint.
Drug-addicts who cannot cope with regular society enter and remain in Christiania and are considered integral to the Freetown ethics For this reason many Danes have seen Christiania as a successful social experiment. For years the legal status of the region has been in a limbo due to different Danish governments attempting to remove it but attempts at removal have all been unsuccessful so far.
Christiania is one of the more unlikely tourist attractions in Copenhagen.
Among the local users are many social security recipients, pensioners, immigrants and clients from social institutions not to mention the many homeless and jobless young people. Street people and vagabonds, all seem to find sanctuary here as well as students, musicians, artists, intellectuals and academics.
After bitter negotiations that temporarily resulted in the area being sealed off to the public, in June 2011, the residents of Christiania agreed to collectively set up a fund to formally purchase the land at below market prices. Uncertainty remains over how the money will be raised.