Archive for 2005

December 27th, 2005

Ate too well…

Yet another Christmas passed. This time we celebrated the holidays up north, in Taivalkoski with Sanna’s parents. The yuletide was really nice time with the extended family; Aapo got a lot of attention from the relatives…

I ate well — too much, and several times a day. The food was excellent, and there was plenty of it. As a result, I gained at least two kilos during the trip (from Wednesday to Monday), and now have to spend the whole spring exercising and eating right — otherwise I need to buy a new wardrobe.

The Christmas eve is the main day in Finland. I read a good book, ate, visited the graveyard and opened gifts. Aapo got lots, and he was really happy with the rope of his sled; he played at least half an hour with it. He was also very interested in the wrapping paper. Maybe the presents are worth studying next year, who knows.

Sanna asked me to buy Carcassonne board game, and we spent several hours playing with it — I today bought an extension pack to it (this makes the inexpensive price of the basic game more understandable) to add to the joy. Christmas eve night and Christmas day night were spent with jigsaw puzzles.

My boxing day ride (a Finnish Christmas tradition of visiting relatives with a horse and sleigh on old times) was from Taivalkoski to Helsinki via Kuopio, about 800 kilometers — with two very fast stops. The first leg was driven by Aki, my brother-in-law, and I had to drive only 400 kilometers. I was so stiff and hurting after the journey that I’ll wait at least to the next year before doing it again. Sanna and Aapo will join me on Friday, until then I’ll live bachelor life and clean up the mess on Thursday evening.

Contemporary Art

If you are an arts fan, consider visiting Kiasma, the contemporary art museum. It is very centrally located, near Sokos department store, and the exhibitions are well-thought. You may not recognise a single name on the walls, as Kiasma is focusing mostly to Finnish and Scandinavian art, but you could spot the next art superstar…

Kiasma in Helsinki

There is also a small shop on the ground floor, selling art books, oddities and everything in between. The caf? is nice, too, especially during summer time.

Kiasma is open quite late, to 20.30 from Wednesday to Friday. It’s closed on Mondays. The museum has free entrance on Fridays evenings (at least on December 2005), but it’s advisable to check the information on their website., Mannerheiminaukio 2, Helsinki, Finland, +358 9 1733 6501

December 22nd, 2005

Freezing and steaming in Oulu

I’m once again in Oulu in business — this time with my family. We set on our journey yesterday, and spend the best part of day driving from Espoo to Oulu.

Finland is currently having cold weather, not extremely cold, but sort of a crispy cold, -20C or something. The road trip was also a sightseeing tour, as the trees were covered with snow and frost, the sun was shining very low and everything was coloured first yellowish, then pinkish and lastly blueish before the darkness fell.

We are staying in Sokos Hotel Arina, on the very heart of Oulu downtown. The room is a real bang for a buck: we are paying only 80€ or so, and there is a sauna and a separate living room area in the room… The extra space is really nice when you are travelling with children.

Sauna is very, very, very nice experience after shopping in the bitterly cold and windy weather (without long underpants) and getting Aapo to sleep… The room is designed well, so the sauna doesn’t heat everything and you can still sleep without sweating your sheets wet.

So, if you are travelling in Oulu, call to Arina and check whether they have rooms with sauna available.

Almost excellent

Uusi Seurahuone is the poshiest restaurant cluster in Oulu, renovated with big money in an old building next to the market square and harbour. There are several restaurants and a couple bars in the complex.

Uusi Seurahuone in Oulu

The main restaurant, Uusi Seurahuone, is located on the former inner yard that has been covered with a glass ceiling. Old red bricks are still visible on the walls and the whole redevelopment combines new and old in a stylish manner.

The food is good, but not maybe excellent. The service is not always on par with the rest of the experience. It is courteous and swift, but human touch is missing and waiters don’t look like that they would do anything (and I mean anything :) for the customer.

Overall, if you are having business lunches or dinners in Oulu, this restaurant is a good and safe choice. For more intimate occasions, consider smaller scale with better service., Rantakatu 4 (at the market square), Oulu, Finland, +358 20 143 2200

Tasty sushi

Tomo Sushibar is a small scale sushi restaurant in Oulu, nearby Rotuaari. The place was deserted on Wednesday evening, so we were a bit hesitant to order anything. Fortunately we did, as the sushi was an extremely pleasant surprise — it was tasty, imaginative and inexpensive.

Inside Tomo Sushi bar in Oulu

The restaurant itself is a mix of Japanese sushibars and western modernism. Overall quite nice place and I could envision myself spending some time with good friends and good sushi. The service was swift and as already mentioned, the price was decent.

Hopefully the restaurant can survive, as there is not enough good sushi restaurants in Finland — especially outside Helsinki., Kauppurienkatu 5, Oulu, Finland, +358 8 312 1665,

December 20th, 2005

Got iPOD nano

I got iPOD nano yesterday and was surprised, as most probably everyone else except Apple’s designers, that how small the gadget really is.

Unfortunately, the surface is vulnerable to scratches and this limits the usage of the gadget a lot. Thus it’s sitting in my car, probably permanently connected to the car audio system.

The sound is also different, sort of thinner, compared to my big iPOD. This is strange and problematic, as the music doesn’t sound so good, compared to the bigger model.

The big iPOD has still it’s own place: I still need an external hard drive for carrying a lot of files. As nano is based on flash memory, I don’t want to use it in hard duty file using, such as making small changes to a file constantly. The memory is not designed for that kind of action.

Electronics and computers in style

If you are hunting sleek gadgets, computers or home electronics, head towards Sony Center on the basement floor in Kämp Galleria. The smallish store is packed full with all kinds of cool toys with brushed metal finish on the outside and the bleeding edge stuff inside.

I personally like the video cameras and laptops most, but other stuff is also worth buying for — just remember that in Finland it is politically correct to buy only Nokia phones…

Finland is not maybe the best country to buy electronics, but if you come outside EU, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, you are entitled to get the value added tax back. Finnish hefty tax of 22% is worth spending some time at the shop and at the airport., Kluuvikatu 4 (in Kämp Galleria), Helsinki, Finland, +358 9 5860 1230

Computer extravaganza

Verkkokauppa is the largest and most comprehensive computer superstore in Helsinki. Their flagship (and only) store is located in Ruoholahti, near the western end of Helsinki metro — not far from the city itself.

The concept of the store is different to normal computer stores. Most of the stuff is not shown on the shelves, but you need to order it with clerk or through web. Then you go to the pick up your stuff and pay them. Not very courteous, but really effective service…

The store itself is still bigger than any other computer superstore in Helsinki, so you can imagine how much stuff they have on the storage.,
Itämerenkatu 21 (in Kauppakeskus Ruoholahti), Helsinki, Finland, +358 9 6150 8744,