Kotka, Finland – You wouldn’t guess that this gritty, shipbuilding center would be our first “tourist” destination in Finland. But less than a week after our arrival, we made a beeline for the Maritime Center Vellamo, a massive wave-shaped building that evokes the sea in its very design, now housing the national Maritime Museum. New in 2008, the building is a striking setting to demonstrate the country’s and the region’s historic and contemporary connection to the sea.
Truth be told, the Maritime Museum was top priority because it contains an exhibit about a shipwreck that is the subject of our book-in-progress. But the exhibit is a very small part of the huge museum, which is a worthwhile trip for anyone with any interest in boats (which includes all toddlers, right?)
While Daddio and I did our thing, the twins got to…
- Build a boat out of blocks…
- Play with an antique version of the game “Battleship”…
- And admire some gorgeous wooden boats.
Actually, the Hall of Boats was pretty frustrating for them, because it was filled with fun sailboats, submarines and sea planes; but of course they could not touch let alone climb aboard any of them. So I think they could have done without it.
But then we followed that with a visit to the icebreaker Tarmo, which is docked in the old port just outside the museum. This impressive ship is open for exploration, and the twins had a blast climbing, running and making mayhem all around the vessel. It’s particularly atmospheric, as the ship is docked in the shadow of the towering port cranes, against a backdrop of smoke stacks and maritime industry.
Even the little lifeboat Hulda was a hit with the twins, because they could climb aboard and use their imaginations to navigate the seas.
I had not really made the connection before, but there is a lesson here for entertaining kids who are crazy about transportation, like the twins are: cars, boats, trucks and trains are cool, but non-moving, non-boardable cars, boats, trucks and trains are boooooring. Obviously.