We began the day at the Hakaniemi Market Square
sampling the fresh produce and local food.
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farmer's market stalls are filled with mixed berries for sale.
This orange, clustered berry grows in the northern wetlands
and remains ripe for only three weeks of the year.
Cloudberry liquer makes a great souvenir or you can
take home a Finnish two euro coin featuring the berry.
or take a bus to to Seurasaari Island and Open Air Museum.
We decided to stay on the mainland and check out a few of the local churches instead.
It was the perfect time to partake in the Nordic tradition of fika or coffee break.
This break often involves a hot cup of coffee and a cookie or slice of cake.
Besides cloudberry liquer and reindeer pelts,
another item you may want to purchase is Baltic amber.
The tricky thing about buying amber is that it may not be REAL.
Amber is technically fossilized tree sap that takes 2.5-4 million years to create.
Then there is copal, an incomplete fossilization of sap that is softer than amber.
Both look almost identical, but they have different chemical and physical properties.
Plastic is also sometimes used to create the appearance of real amber.
Note that amber is lightweight like plastic, so weight is not a good indicator.
such as testing the hardness of the amber, floating it in salt water (real amber floats),
or touching it with a hot needle (real amber smells like pine or ash).
However, the likelihood of such a test being performed in front of you
while purchasing a piece of amber is very unlikely.
Other tests you might be able to perform yourself is touching the amber to see if it feels warm
or licking the amber to see if it tastes like plastic (it should be tasteless).
One test you can perform at home is to shine a black light
on the amber and see if it has a bluish light (plastic and copal will not).
Most Baltic amber washes ashore in Lithuania and the Russian province of Kaliningrad,
so the odds of purchasing real amber should be much better (and cheaper) the closer you get.
Latvia, was the closest country we traveled to and I felt it had the most varied selection of amber at the best prices.
If you see "amber" containing large, whole insects inside,
they are fake and the store's credibility is questionable.
Buy amber from reputable-looking stores that specialize in amber such as
amber jewelry shops, amber stores at the airport, or the jewelry shop on board the ship.
Don't buy amber from a street vendor or a typical tourist shop selling refrigerator magnets.and t-shirts.
Buy amber based on the value of its appearance or uniqueness,
rather than its value as authentic amber.
Don't buy a piece if the price is higher than what you would normally spend
on a nice piece of fashion jewelry or decoration.
Thankfully it gave us time to rest up for our next
2 Days in St. Petersburg, Russia!