Say it with me…Suomenlinna.

I know, I know…Blog Slacker this week…it’s end of quarter at work though, so things are a little sporty.  What with a whole lot of sales people living in fear of missing their number.  While the rest of us snicker at their sweat beads, wink, smile and think, “I still get paid the same…” 
Back to the trip – first stop was Stockholm – where we boarded the Voyager with all it’s luxury…choice of pillows…choice of breads…choice of tasty beverages…all included.  Yes, please.

We left Stockholm and made our way to our first stop ~ Helsinki, Finland.
We were still a little sleepy from the time change – but ready to start the excursion marathon. 

For those of you who haven’t cruised…excursions are ship-arranged tours…when you sign up for your trip, you have the option of signing up for excursions as well.  You usually get three or four choices and they differ in the ‘what people like to do’ category and the difficulty level.

It’s one of the toughest parts of cruising – the day you have to lock down what you are going to want to do several months in the future.  Will I want to take the metro to downtown St. Petersburg for a day of shopping?  Will I want to take a nature walk along the Thames?  Will I want to spend eight hours trekking up ancient ruins?  Should I opt for a bus tour with photo op stops?

On this day – we decided on a fortress that sits in front of Helsinki.  Who goes to see a fortress, you might ask?  We do.  It’s part of a forty year old contract between my parents that goes something like this ~ “For every x-hours of shopping Mom does, Dad gets to go see a fort.” The number of shopping hours is the only variable – changing based on location and availability of stores.

Off we went to Suomenlinna – which means sea fortress.  Named by someone with a severe lack of creativity.

To get to the fortress – you have to take a ferry from the harbor – only about a fifteen minute ride.  But…obviously too far away for this little guy…    

I love when birds hitch rides.  It’s like they are trying to equalize us.  “Hey – I could totally do my thang with these wings and all – but I want to hang out with you for a bit.”

The fortress was very cool – built into the rocks over five separate islands.  It was very well preserved – having been passed from country to country as the region shook out who would own what.

Our guide was a bit of a go-getter.  I don’t remember picking an excursion that involved sprinting across cobbles and through tunnels with no lighting, but she seemed to feel confident in our skill levels, so there we went. 

 Now, sometimes I get tired of my home owners association.  Actually, at the moment I can’t stand them.  We are having actual, literal turf wars.  The HOA things we should pay to have our yards re-sodded at our cost…despite our living in maintenance free town homes with a contract indicating that landscaping is something the HOA covers.  I have yet to lay down a square of sod.  We do have the option of doing something else with the dead grass…would a field of poison ivy be inappropriate?

The fortress is inhabited – and it would be an amazing place to live. Surrounded by beautiful water, a quick boat ride to downtown Helsinki…access to all the salmon you can eat. 

The only real stipulation seems to be…Paint Your House Burnt Orange.

Now, I was never in the military so maybe my views of concealment are limited to pimples and muffin tops – but…my guess is that if you have five islands on a fortress made up of burnt orange houses…people are going to see it.
And, yes, I realize that probably hundreds of years ago…before Benjamin Moore was a paint store…the houses on the fortress were probably not burnt orange.  Maybe they were grass green or stone gray so that incoming water traffic thought they were just seeing uninhabited land.
On the other hand, if you’re trying to have an authentic fortress…
Well, I’m just saying.
And on the other, other hand, the houses were really pretty.  So, color choice forgiven.
Here is where we started a new vacation trend.  And I’m actually not even sure my dad realized it until pretty late in the trip.  Like the second to last day when I beaned him in the head for his misbehavior.
So.  Here we go:

 Doesn’t look so bad right?  A picture of Bo on the fortress?  Note that this is only the third day of the trip and we have knocked out the fortress visit, thus opening the door for many shopping increments.

But here’s how this picture really happened.  I bought a kick ass Canon Rebel XSI in May – and was so excited to use it. 

So, I’m lining up what is going to be a great picture looking through the walls and out onto the fields…and I’m just getting comfortable…and…what?

Something is sort of bobbing towards me.

And climbing.

And up pops my dad from the other side of the wall where he’d been out exploring.  And, obviously realized that I’d been waiting to take a picture of him. 

I could have done a whole series on countries where my dad’s fingers, feet, head or elbow trickled into my frame. 

It’s good to know he still wants to hang out with me.  Really, really closely.

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