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Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Sea Fort Helsinki, Finland, Saturday, 29 June 2013 6:39am

Today's plan was to get on a ferry and head out to the Suomenlinna, the sea fort that made Helsinki prosper. The fort was built while Finland was under Swedish control, and consists of a set of bastions on the various islands of a small archipelago. There were enough soldiers and workers here to make it the second largest city in Finland during its construction (which took 40 years). It was called the "Gibraltar of the North", and was considered to be impossible to capture.

Unfortunately, when that actually got tested during the 1808 Russian invasion, the fortress surrendered almost without a fight. The Russians held it (and the rest of Finland) for over a hundred years, though a combined British and French fleet bombarded it into submission and then sailed off, uninterested in actually capturing it.

Today, it's mostly a collection of museums (I visited the history museum and the military museum, as well as the submarine they have on display) and had a look at the bastions and the dry dock. There were some good interactive displays, and a video that used multiple projectors to describe the history of the fort.

Back on the mainland, I visited the Helsinki Art Museum, which has more contemporary art (generally on a smaller scale than the stuff at Kiasma). There's a show on right now by a Russian group called AES+F that focuses on images of children turning into dinosaurs and/or killing each other, which had some interesting pieces. The same group did a video installation consisting of three groups of three screens being simultaneously projected with an eerie piece called "The Feast of Trimalchio", an adaptation of Petronius's "Satyricon". The technique used a lot of composited loops of video to create repetitive motion that looked subtly wrong as you watched it. Each set of three screens had a theme. Sometimes the three would be showing the same scene, but then each set would go off into its own narrative again.

Unfortunately, Mo and Oliver have come down with something, but the rest of us had one last dinner together at a tractor-themed restaurant. When Tinny told me that, I was confused, because "Traktir" is a common Russian restaurant theme, involving servers in peasant garb and rustic furniture and game-heavy food. But this place actually had tractors parked around the restaurant. My dessert was country cheese in cream, with cloudberry jam, which was pretty delicious.

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