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Saturday, October 20, 2018

Is Helsinki on Your Bucket List? Maybe It Should Be!

Visit Helsinki! Summer in Finland is warm, bright and exhilarating. Most importantly, the air is fresh, clean, and pure and invigorating at all times of the year. 



Helsinki doesn’t often appear on travelers’ bucket lists. Even those who dream of exploring Scandinavia usually defer to Norway’s fjords or Sweden’s cities, but Finland’s capital is a destination in itself — and one that’s on the rise.

What is the condensed history of this great European Capital?

Sweden’s King Gustavus Vasa founded Helsinki on the mouth of Vantaanjoki River in 1550 to compete with Tallinn for Baltic Sea trade. The town grew slowly however, and the center of Helsinki was moved to its current location in the 1600s.

In 1748 Sweden began construction of the Suomenlinna Maritime Fortress off the coast of Helsinki to counter the growing threat from Russia. The massive project brought additional wealth, inhabitants and merchants to the town.

Russia conquered Finland in 1809. The status of Helsinki was raised to capital of the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland three years later. A monumental Empire-style city plan was drawn up to reflect the power of Russia and the Tsar.

Finland became independent in 1917, and Helsinki assumed the demanding new role of capital of the young republic. City planning was characterized by Classicism and Functionalism.

During World War II, Finland was in many ways a unique case: It was the only European country bordering the Soviet Union in 1939 which was still unoccupied by 1945.  Of all the European countries fighting, only three European capitals were never occupied: Moscow, London and Helsinki.

Recovering from the hardships of war, Helsinki hosted the Summer Olympics in 1952. The games created an international reputation for Helsinki as an efficient and friendly host city.

With stark differences between seasons, Finns are used to contrasts. Dark Arctic winters have their counterpart in one of the most iconic of Finnish natural phenomena, the Midnight Sun.

Many wonder how Finns survive with no sunlight in the winter, and nature replies with 24 hours of it in the summer. The intense contrast in light conditions has a profound effect on all walks of life in Finland.

For understandable reasons, public spaces come to life in the summer. After the harsh winter, endless daylight never arrives a day too early. Summer in Finland is a time spent outside the house enjoying the short but sweet season, and all worries are postponed until nights get dark again.

Often considered to be Finland's only metropolis, it is the world's northernmost metro area with over one million people as well as the northernmost capital of an EU member state. After Stockholm and Oslo, Helsinki is the third largest city in the Nordic countries.

Helsinki is a thriving city, being named the "World's Design Capital" in 2012 and as a leader in the online gaming industry, among so much more!

Visit Helsinki! Summer in Finland is warm, bright and exhilarating. Most importantly, the air is fresh, clean, and pure and invigorating at all times of the year.

Make Meaningful and Healthy Travel Happen!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Review of Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines California

We had the opportunity to stay at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines for the 2018 Navy SEAL Foundation Impact Forum.

Entrance to the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines

This is a special place for any conference or a weekend getaway for peace and quiet or an active vacation. Of course everyone has heard of Torrey Pines Golf course and it's no surprise to encounter the resort feeling from the minute you hit the door. The golf course is sprawling between the resort and the ocean. Every room has a view of the golf course and therefore ocean, but nothing will be ocean front.

Monday, October 8, 2018

LTD Visits One of Scandinavia's Most Visited Museums, The Vasa Museum (Vasamuseet) in Stockholm, Sweden

What started with church services and a festive atmosphere ended in a watery grave...


It was the 10th of August 1628, when Vasa, the most powerful warship in the Baltic, foundered in Stockholm harbor before the eyes of a large audience, only minutes after setting sail for the first time.  Learn more about the Vasa from this video and article below!  Watch until the end of the Video to learn about Beata who's face was reconstructed from her skeleton found onboard.






Vasa cast off from the palace between four and five o'clock. As the ship found the current, four of the ten sails were set, and a cannon salute was fired from open cannon hatches on the Vasa.

There was little wind under the bluffs of Södermalm, not even enough to pull the sheets of the sails taught, and Vasa drifted on the current. A small gust filled the sails, and the ship heeled to port, but slowly, agonizingly recovered. As the ship passed the gap in the bluffs at Tegelviken, a much stronger gust pushed the ship so far over on its port side that water poured in through the open cannon hatches from the salute, on the lower gun-deck. Vasa began to sink.

Pandemonium reigned on deck. Many threw themselves into the water, while those below decks struggled to make their way up wildly tilting ladders. Within minutes, the ship was on the sea bed at a depth of 32 metres. The masts stuck up above the surface, and many grabbed hold of them. Others were picked up by the small craft that had followed the Vasa's shaky journey at close quarters. Some swam the 120 meters to the shore of Beckholmen.  All but 30 of the crew and guests survived when Vasa sank. Most of the dead were trapped inside the ship.

The fact that the Captain allowed the gun ports to remain open when Vasa set off was a fateful decision – if they had been closed, water could not have poured in, and the ship might have survived long enough to be rebuilt into a more stable configuration.

On 25 August 1956, Anders Franzén, a fuel engineer in the Swedish navy and amateur archaeologist, discovered a small piece of black oak stuck in a coring device that he dropped into Stockholm's harbor. It does not sound like much, but is by far one of the most important events in the modern history of Vasa.  Even today, many still remember where they were when Vasa finally rose from the deep after 333 years in darkness.  On Monday, 24 April 1961, thousands of people crowded the shores around Kastellholmsviken, much as they had lined the shore almost 333 years earlier, to witness Vasa being raised from the deep.

Today, the Vasa Museum is one of Scandinavia's most visited museums. Here you will find in all its glory, the unique and well preserved warship Vasa from 1628, embellished with hundreds of wooden sculptures and many unique exhibits surrounding the construction, the crew, and discovery of the ship.

Don't forget a good set of binoculars to view the intricacies of the carvings and interior!



Make Meaningful and Healthy Travel Happen!!