Lapland is the northern area of Finland. Randy and I met Santa Claus while we were there. We had to cross into the Arctic Circle to do so. Santa’s hometown is Rovaniemi, which is where some of these pictures are from. And if you ever wondered why Santa is always surrounded by reindeer, you need to see Rovaniemi to understand. They are everywhere!
Olavinlinna Castle, or St. Olaf’s castle, is a Medieval castle located on a picturesque island, linked to the mainland in the area of Savonlinna which is located in the southeast of Finland. The city was founded in 1639 around the castle St. Olaf, but the castle itself was built in 1475 by Erik Axelsson Tott, to protect the area Savonlinna and monitor the border between Finland and Russia. Yes, the Finnish people grew up fearing the Russians just like the people of my generation! The castle is supposed to repel the Russian attacks from the east to secure the Savonlinna region and the Swedish crown.
I got to spend my 39th birthday at this castle and I thought it was a really neat memory.
The State Hermitage is a museum of art and culture in Saint Petersburg, Russia. One of the largest and oldest museums of the world, it was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and has been opened to the public since 1852. Its collections, of which only a small part is on permanent display, comprise nearly 3 million items, including the largest collection of paintings in the world. The collections occupy a large complex of six historic buildings along Palace Embankment, including the Winter Palace, a former residence of Russian emperors. Apart from them, the Menshikov Palace, Museum of Porcelain, Storage Facility at Staraya Derevnya and the eastern wing of the General Staff Building are also part of the museum.
Saint Petersburg, located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea, used to be called Petrograd (from 1914) and Leningrad (in 1924) and back to Saint Petersburg in 1991.
Saint Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703. From 1713 to 1728 and from 1732 to 1918, Saint Petersburg was the Imperial capital of Russia. In 1918 the central government bodies moved from Saint Petersburg to Moscow.
The Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monumentsconstitute are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Saint Petersburg's Hermitage is also the largest art museum in the world.
The featured picture, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, was demolished during the Soviet period, and later reconstructed from 1990–2000. The rest of the photos were equally thought provoking and brought me back to a time when I was young and completely fearful that the Soviets were going to threaten our existence and our future. Some of my favorite sites included St. Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square and our trip out to Moscow University. I also liked the view of the Moscow International Business Center and the cityscape from the Western side of the city.