In July 2023 I made my first trip to Finland in five years, and also stopped by to see the beautiful city of Stockholm, Sweden. Here are some photos from my trip.
These photos are from Alby, near Stockholm, where there’s a beautiful nature resort. My uncle showed me a recently built bridge. They have preserved the traditional Swedish countryside scenery, known for example from the Emil of Lönneberga books by Astrid Lindgren. There were also nice Swedish Ardennes horses there.
My aunt and uncle live in Tyresö, one of the suburbs of Stockholm. My uncle Mats cooked some pyttipanna, a traditional Nordic mixture of potatoes and chopped meat, and took me to see Tyresö Palace and the church.
The Stockholm photos start with some shots from Drottninggatan (Queen Street), where there are many stores. The Parliament building is located next to bridges and water. The medieval city center is called Gamla Stan (Old Town), and it has many narrow streets, the Royal Palace, churches, statue of St. George, and BURGER KING.
In the new town center there is the Central Station, where the trains, buses, and subway lines leave. I went to the place where prime minister of Sweden Olof Palme was assassinated in 1986. There’s a mark at the spot he was shot, and the murderer escaped through the narrow Tunnelgatan. Palme is buried in the churchyard of Adolf Fredrik Church.
In the city center there are many more bridges and water, and the beautiful Kungsträdgården (“The King’s Garden”).
Riddarholmen (“The Knights’ Islet”) is a small islet and part of Gamla Stan. There is Birger Jarl’s square and Riddarholmen Church, which used to serve the Franciscan friars in the Middle Ages, until they were dispersed during the Reformation in the 1500s. The water goes very near the sidewalks. In the southern part of the city center lies Södermalm, where the there’s also the Catholic cathedral of St. Eric. In the church there’s a nice side altar of Our Lady, and a statue of St. Joseph, but also a sign of the clergy’s apostasy showed by the memorial of antipope John Paul II’s visit in 1989.
Travelling on a ferry between Sweden and Finland is very popular. I have done that since my childhood, among others on Viking Sally, later known as MS Estonia, which sunk in 1994, claiming hundreds of lives. On this trip I took the ferry named Viking Grace, and sighted the cities of Stockholm, Mariehamn (the Åland Islands), and Turku with their harbors from it.
My mother lives in a town named Hyvinkää. On this trip I enjoyed a burger from the local Finnish fast-food chain Hesburger, a reindeer meat pizza, and little quark pies. I also went to the railroad museum, where there’s many old trains, including types my mother’s father used to work at.
In my home town there is a region called Ruissalo and the beach area called Saaronniemi, where we used to go often when I was a child.
Turku is my old home town, where I grew up. I stayed in a hotel by the market square. In the city flag, you can see both the letters A for Aboa, the city’s Latin name, and M for the Blessed Virgin Mary I was born at the old birth center Heideken, which for over hundred years was the place where most of the native Turku residents were born. My mother’s parents lived in the area called Luolavuori. In the city center there is big Lutheran Church of St. Michael, and the (Novus Ordo) Catholic parish of St. Bridget and Bl. Hemming, where I used to attend.
I went to see my old high school on the Puolalanmäki hill. (Like in that old joke: My school was located on top of the hill. What school was that? HIGH school!). Near the school there is the old city railway station, and the art museum. My father used to work nearby at the TV retail shop. It’s not there anymore, and now there’s an art school. Near the Timber Market Square is located Wäinö Aaltonen’s statue about friendship, and the Turku Concert Hall.
On the other side of the city center there’s a traffic park for children. On one of the hills of the city, named after St. Gertrude of Nivelles, there’s a school of St. Gertrude where I attended from 3rd to 6th grade. On the school ground is a gazebo named after Mauno Koivisto, our former president who also used to attend that school, and who visited there when I was there. In former times, there was gallows on the hill, where the town used to hang criminals, which always was a source of black humor for us kids when we were in school. A little fox also made an appearance.
The Lutheran cathedral and the park of Peter Brahe is near the bridge by the River Aura. I went to the old town library, where I used to visit very often, and also stopped by to see the new library.
On the Lutheran town cemetery are the graves of my aunt, and my mother’s parents. In the Russian orthodox cemetery is the grave of my father’s mother. In the Catholic cemetery are the graves of Bishop Paul Verschuren, who was the Bishop of the Helsinki diocese in 1964-1998, and of many priests who worked in Finland, including Dominican Father Martti Voutilainen, ordained in 1960. There are also graves of Sisters of the Sacred Heart and that of a Finnish Dominican Sister. Also the graves of the Calabrese family, who are well known for their design bags.
The town area where I used to live as a child is called Lauste. It is a very green area.
Thank you to all of you who prayed for me on my journey. I’m happy to be back.
In Christ and Mary,