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Touring Helsinki: Photo Diary

by Glen Andresen / Minnesota Wild
Tomorrow is a game day. It's a regular season game day, and there will be no more pussyfooting around. Fun will take a back seat to business and domination of NHL foes. But today is not a game day, so we can have just a little bit more fun on before we cover a two-game shellacking of the Carolina Hurricanes.

On Sunday, two buses were used to take a tour of beautiful Helsinki. The players boarded one bus, while I boarded the one with Wild coaches and management. Here is what we saw, but I promise it won't be as fun as the real thing, which was led by Ripsu, the funniest Finnish tour guide there is.

And here she is...Ripsu, queen of the one-liners. For the rest of this photo diary, picture her saying much funnier things than what I'm typing, and add a delightful Finnish accent.

According to Ripsu, this statue of three naked men represents two things: 1) Labor in Finland, and 2) what Finnish men look like, including her three ex husbands (even though she only has two), and they are naked because she took everything from them.

This is the main plaza in Helsinki and those colorful statues you see on the right are a bunch of bears that represent all of the countries in the United Nations. It reminded me of the Charlie Brown statues in St. Paul from some years back. Anyway, it sounds like the favorite among the players was the Cuba bear, who held a big cigar.

This is the backside of the American bear, which obviously is a statue of liberty theme. It had quite a gathering around it.

From what I gather, the Helsinki Cathedral is one of the the predominant symbols of Helsinki. You can see why, but Kurtz says he still likes the St. Paul Cathedral better.

This statue is also located in the plaza. I can't remember what it is, but Ripsu says that there is always a seagull sitting atop his head. She doesn't know if it's the same one every time or not. For whatever reason, I found this very amusing.

This magnificent church was one of the highlights of the tour. It is built into rock, and as you can see, the walls are all stone. That's Todd Richards in the foreground, and Bob Kurtz looking like he's going to punch me for taking his photo.

Here is a panoramic shot of inside the church.

Assistant Coach Darby Hendrickson took a seat in the pews. Apparently he wanted to ask for forgiveness for being too nice of a person.

Many huge cruise ships make berth in the Helsinki port. Not as big as the yachts on Lake Minnetonka, but still nothing to sneeze at.

Here's my attempt at capturing what a Finnish side street looks like. I failed miserably. But just know that the buildings are small, beautiful and colorful.

One attempt at capturing a Finnish skyline shot.

This is where I bought several satchels.

Ripsu says this is the oldest building in all of Finland. It was owned by a Finnish merchant.

Olympic stadiums have obviously changed over the years, but in 1952 the Helsinki Olympic Stadium was as good as it gets. I'm not including a photo of the tower where the Olympic torch is (on the left), but it is so tall and the stairs look so small that I get nauseous just thinking about it.

Outside the stadium is a statue of Paavo Nurmi, who hails from the same town as Mikko Koivu...Turku! Nurmi was a middle and long distance runner who won nine golds and three silvers from 1920 to 1928. Judging by the other side of this statue, he accomplished it all while running naked as a jaybird.

This beautiful steel sculpture is the Sibelius Monument, which is dedicated to Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius. The metal structures are hollow and Ripsu says that if you stick your head in there and listen closely, you will hear the music of Sibelius.

Tom Reid attempts to listen to the music, but I'm pretty sure all he could hear was Kurtz asking him where he wants to go for dinner.

What better way to wrap up the tour than with this beautiful shot of a waterfront? Kiitos Finland!

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