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Posts posted by Hezu

  1. On 6/24/2023 at 9:53 PM, knotheadusc said:

    Today we went to Helsinki and took a very interesting cruise around the harbor.  We learned that in the winter, all of the water around Helsinki is completely frozen, and people just walk or ski across it.  The guides also mentioned global warming, which made me think I would be nervous walking on the ice.  But I don’t know just how cold it gets here in the cold months!

    Helsinki is still fairly warm within Finland, the sea stays warm quite long and that moderates temperatures, although that goes also the other way around and in the spring the cold sea water cools down also air temperatures near the coastline. On some cold spells the temperatures can drop into the region of -20 °C, although this varies yearly and it doesn't always became that cold. But if the temperatures stay firmly below the freezing point for extended periods then the sea water starts to freeze and form ice, first in the bays and then also elsewhere in the coastline. If the cold spell lasts long enough, the ice will be indeed thick enough that you can go walking, skating or skiing on it. The sea ice in Southern Finland rarely gets very thick, but ice on inland lakes often will become sufficiently thick that one may drive motor vehicles on ice. Also, ice breakers will keep the sea lanes open, so rarely you can go too far into sea ice from the coast, thus for example the South Harbour around the Market Square in Helsinki is these days never in condition that you could walk on ice. And of course, the climate change means that there may not be as long cold periods as earlier, for example this winter in Helsinki there tended to be some colder spells followed by some very warm weather that melted snow and ice and then again little colder weather and so on. This meant open sea waters for pretty much whole winter.

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  2. 2 hours ago, jpalbny said:

    Just before lunch we had a look out our window. What?!




    And why is it smoking at the waterline? Is it test firing some torpedoes at us?


    Another warplane went by but quite high up so we couldn't see it well. But we sure heard it! Eventually the warship turned away and left us to our own devices.

    That is German Navy's Braunschweig-class corvette Ludwigshafen am Rhein and it has exhaust pipes near the waterline.

    And the military aircraft activity might be related to currently ongoing large NATO air exercise or alternatively related to the fact that Russian airplanes (including military) that fly between Kaliningrad and elsewhere in Russia have to fly over Baltic Sea international waters as they cannot fly over other countries. And fairly frequently NATO (and Swedish) fighter planes make identification flights to check those Russian military planes that fly with transponders off.

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  3. 2 hours ago, QuattroRomeo said:

    Yes, sea days are pretty precious on a port-intensive cruise! The spa looks great. Not sure I'd want to plunge into the sea in June!  But you had the sauna to warm you up. Glad you are enjoying everything!


    Swimming water temperatures in Helsinki region are already on rise and warmest waters are already above 20 °C.


    1 hour ago, djvand said:


    Do you happen to remember the name of the Sauna you visited here?  Or how to find it from the ship?


    ...although if I guess correctly that sauna was Löyly and since the nearest water temperature metering point on the website linked above is Eiranranta and that sadly means that particular area might have one of the cooler waters, 15 °C just now. And assuming your cruise ship docks at Hernesaari, it is really easy to find Löyly, just head to Hernesaarenranta road on the eastern side of this headland and move towards north east and it is about only building on the eastern side of that road, so hard to miss.

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  4. 17 minutes ago, lincslady said:

    My recollection, Terry, is that the sun never goes quite down in the middle of June.  No  doubt jp and Rachel G will tell us - though if they are getting up for 3 a.m. they should be asleep by now.

    Oulu is not north enough for proper midnight sun, but there is no proper darkness either: for today (Friday, June 9th) in Oulu, sunrise is at 02:35 and sunset at 00:03.


    My guesses for reasons to start an excursion very early morning are that either the excursion includes a long drive further away from the coast or the excursion involves going to listen the night active song birds singing in the early morning, one potential location for birding in Oulu area would be Liminganlahti.

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  5. The snake in Rachel's photo is a grass snake (Natrix natrix) and that is non-venomous, so no need to worry about. Davey's picture then shows common European adder (Vipera berus), which is the only poisonous snake in this part of the world, although adder bites are rarely fatal, but may still need medical attention. And generally these snakes do not attack human unless provoked, say eg. you step on one.

    And these photos do show the best identification details of these two species: grass snake's yellow spots on the neck and adder's zigzag pattern.

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  6. 8 hours ago, KINGBOBOFTHENORTH said:

    Definitely the train from Hamburg Hbf to Kiel Hbf. Many of the trains are ICE high speed trains.

    It is worth a mention that Hamburg does have also other long distance railway stations, so if your accomodation is closer to those, you probably should book your journey starting from there rather than the central station.

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  7. 34 minutes ago, jpalbny said:

    Yesterday we learned about some mythological Finnish creatures. Not sure if this "Hiisi" is similar to the Hiids.

    Actually, "hiisi" is the singular base form of the word, in Finnish when you inflect words that can trigger vowel harmony and consonant gradation and in case of this word inflection triggers some changes and thus the plural (in nominative case) becomes "hiidet".

    I guess certain features of Finnish language may not be that simple for those who are more accustomed in English (or should I say Indo-European languages in general) and first time encounter this Finno-Ugric language.

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  8. 2 hours ago, jpalbny said:

    Örö Island, continued.

    I don't remember what this building was.



    Former "soldier's home", perhaps a mess would be an ok translation in English. A place where off duty soldiers can socilize and have something to eat (fresh doughnuts are traditionally top sellers in these). I think currently there is no activity in that building.


    And Örö certainly has lots of signs of its military history, starting from the days when Grand Duchy of Finland was part of the Russian empire. I think one of the most fashinating signs of this history is that the main roads bear names Pitkä ikävä and Lyhyt ikävä, which translate as Long misery and Short misery, which you might understand if you have to walk (or march) these pebble stone roads for longer periods of time...

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  9. 34 minutes ago, Hezu said:

    Be prepared for lot of daylight hours and short nights in these northern latitudes: For example, in Helsinki today sunrise was at 4:01 and sunset at 22:35 and further north you get (and closer to summer solstice) shorter the nights will be. And sure, once you head south the night time will again slightly increase, but not significantly.

    Oops, I meant to say the daylights hours decrease, not increase, as you get further in south...

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  10. 2 hours ago, RachelG said:

    We sailed just after finishing dinner.  It was still bright light outside.

    Be prepared for lot of daylight hours and short nights in these northern latitudes: For example, in Helsinki today sunrise was at 4:01 and sunset at 22:35 and further north you get (and closer to summer solstice) shorter the nights will be. And sure, once you head south the night time will again slightly increase, but not significantly.

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  11. 21 hours ago, sixpackeddie said:

    May I ask how the weather has been in Northern Europe? We are on the same sailing on June 25th.

    I can tell that at least in Finland this June has started with cool (or maybe even cold) weather, although the weather forecasts are predicting bit warmer weather in the near future. Obviously no reliable forecast extends into the dates when your cruise is going to take place.

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  12. 40 minutes ago, jpalbny said:

    Saturday June 3, Helsinki 


    We got to the hotel just after 6PM and cleaned up for dinner. We were ready by 7 so went out for a wander. First the harbor area but no sign of Silver Wind.

    After seeing this thread I got curious about this ship and more importantly how it is supposed to handle the stops at the smaller island, which do not have port facilities that could handle a large cruise ship and did some searching and found out for example that it will call at Hernesaari harbour early today. And that port facility is not visible in your picture, which shows Eteläsatama ("South Harbour") and more specifically the Katajanokka quay. That occasionally gets some cruise ships, but since the route there is thru narrow Kustaanmiekka strait between Vallisaari and Suomenlinna it is only suitable for smaller ships, bigger ones must head to Hernesaari, which has more space. And last, as seen on that picture the cruise berths on Katajanokka are currently occupied, USCGC Eagle is visiting Helsinki and it is accompanied by Finnish Border Guard's offshore patrol vessel Turva. Barque Eagle is expected to leave sometime today, so keep eyes open while in and near Helsinki.

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  13. On 5/31/2023 at 7:02 PM, pavementends said:

    Looks like a neat itinerary with visits to many of the smaller islands. You get to peer across the water into Russia, for now inaccessible to most of us.

    I think you probably won't see that much into Russian territory despite the eastern-most stop is near the Finnish-Russian border, although at least the silhouette of island Gogland in middle of eastern Finnish Gulf should be visible while sailing to/from Ulko-Tammio.

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  14. On 5/31/2023 at 5:20 PM, lincslady said:

    Looks great, jp.  Lots of ports most of us have never even heard of, so looking forward to reading about them.

    For me the names are mostly familiar, although the only ones I have actually visited are Örö and obviously Helsinki, where I currently reside.

    Although I have to say the spelling those names on that map is somewhat dubious (granted I can understand the lack of Scandinavian letters), the most odd one is clearly "Ulko Island", which should actually say Ulko-Tammio (the prefix "Ulko" means outer, there happens to be other island called Sisä-Tammio, "Inner Tammio" and those names tell something about those islands' relative distance to the mainland). Another  weird spelling is "Gotska Island", which is less ambigous, but probably most often you see the name written as Gotska Sandön. The rest are more understandable, albeit there is umlauts missing in Örö, Valsörarna, Örnsköldvik and slash in Christiansø. And in most of those names, the base word is ö or ø, which means island in Swedish/Danish.

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  15. 34 minutes ago, SakeDad said:

    Luckily the day we leave there are only 3 very small exploration ships in port so we won't be competing with 3,000 other passengers. Should make it better.

    Note that quite a few people visit Iceland to make a land-based trips around the country, cruise passengers are just a small portion of tourists visiting Iceland.

  16. On 5/19/2023 at 10:10 PM, hallasm said:

    Denmark and Sweden are not in The Euro zone - Finland and Estonia are in The Euro Zone.

    Bring Euro. For Denmark and Sweden use credit card (chip and Pin)  - almost cashless. 

    And cards are widely accepted also in Finland and Estonia, so probably you won't need much cash even in those countries. On the other hand, if the Baltic cruise includes stop in Germany, there for some odd reason many places won't accept credit cards, but obviously euros in cash are accepted.

  17. Are you fixed on those Panasonics? I guess those might be ok, but I think the best compact superzoom currently on the market is still Sony RX10 IV, which I believe has superior autofocus capabilities in addition to very versatile 24-600 mm equivalent lens. Granted, it might not be the cheapest option nor the smallest one, but still far more compact than an ILC and telephoto lens with comparable reach.

  18. 18 hours ago, KYBOB said:

    Well fate has decided for me! With 120 days until the first leg of the AAA tour I am calling it. (Alaska, Australia and last Africa. I fell last Tuesday and broke my left elbow, like snapped it in two. I go Monday for surgery to have a plate installed to reconnect it. So I have 4 months to be able to hold a camera so…looks like the 100-400 will be the one to go this trip. Even it may get sidelined for the 70-200 f2.8 Sonys new version ii is super light and the lightest 70-200 I have ever used. I still have a Nikon Z7ii and a Z24-200 lens that would be super light if I am not back up to strength by then. 

    Ouch, I can sort relate with this, some years ago in mid-May I fell on bike and fractured my upper arm, survived without surgery, but sadly had to cancel a trip to Iceland that would been in early June. The arm started to feel normal only couple months later.

    If lifting heavy camera+lens combinations continues to be a problem when you travel, I suggest to seriously take a look at getting Sony RX10 IV. The feeling of the controls and EVF might be tad inferior compared to your ILCs and the smaller sensor might be less suitable for low light situations, but that camera packs a versatile lens (field of view comparable to 24-600 mm in full frame terms) and very respectable AF in reasonably small and light compact form.

  19. 3 hours ago, em-sk said:

    First thing is you want everything on one ticket. That way if you miss a connection, the airline is responsible for rerouting and rebooking.   I would avoid going through Europe, it just makes everything longer than it has to be.  With the issue with Ukraine and Russia, the western airlines all have to fly a few extra hours around Russia making everything much longer.

    Actually the flight restrictions over Russia and Ukraina do not affect most Europe<->Singapore flights as much as it affects flights between Europe and Korea, Japan and northern parts of China, which have to take much longer detour whereas Singapore flights still follow roughly similar route as earlier, just tad more southern flight path.

  20. 6 minutes ago, Apel said:


    I don't know what the cost of the Hoho bus is, but if you just want to get around the city a day ticket for all public transportation costs €9 and most cruise ports have a tram stop nearby.

    Majority of cruise ships dock in Helsinki at Hernesaari (Ärtholmen in Swedish) and the distance between the quays there and the nearest tram stop is something like a kilometre, so not exactly something I would call nearby, although for a able bodied persons not impossible distance to walk.

    Few smaller cruise ships (+ Silja Line and Viking Line cruise ferries) do call at South Harbour (fi: Eteläsatama, sv: Södra hamnen) and from there the distances to the nearest tram stops are much shorter.

  21. 16 minutes ago, nansi said:

    Taxi rates for a trip within the city were very reasonable. To the airport VERY expensive.

    Just for sake of clarity: the main international airport serving Reykjavík area is Keflavík Airport, which is something like 50 km from the city centre, which probably explains why the taxi fares are quite expensive. There is also another airport, Reykjavík Airport, that is next to the city centre and taxi fares between the cruise terminal and that airport are more tolerable, although since that airport offers only flights to elsewhere in Iceland and some destinations in Greenland, for most people that won't offer any help. For connections between central Reykjavík and Keflavík, the more cost-effective transport method is probably bus.

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