Archive for March, 2005

March 29th, 2005

Easter with clear skies

Spring has finally arrived to Finland! The temperature is no longer freezing and the sun is shining. The best way to enjoy this weather is, of course, to bury yourself inside with a book…

Just kidding. We were able to make short walks around Taivalkoski rapids. The pregnancy is so late stages that we cannot really have too much of strain nowadays.

I took 50+ photographs of the gushing waters. Unfortunately the best light (in the evening, when everything is coloured rubyish) wasn’t cast on the waters or the bank, so I couldn’t capture the rapids as their best. Maybe during summer.

Otherwise the weekend was balancing between having time off and working. May sound funny, but I’ll have extremely busy spring and early summer in front of me and I’ve to prepare for it in every possible moment.

Magnificent Views to Golden Gate and the Bay

Golden Gate Bridge spans over Golden Gate, a channel that separates San Francisco from Marin County up north.

Walking is the best way to admire the magnificent engineering of the bridge and the views to the bay and downtown. The bridge is quite long, several kilometers, so be prepared with good shoes and enough time. One excellent way of walking is to take a cab from San Francisco and drop off at the northern end of the bridge, there is a small parking area, and then walk back to the city.

There is usually heavy traffic on the bridge as highway 101 runs through it, so you do not see that much from the car.

www.goldengatebridge.org, northwestern tip of San Francisco peninsula, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 921 5858

Clam Chowder by the Sea

Fisherman’s Wharf is one the prime spots for tourists in San Francisco, a lot of different things to do for both adults and children. Some of the shops are a bit tacky and you have to be very careful when buying anything more expensive, such as electronics, as the prices may be much better in downtown.

The wharf hosts also local sealions. They usually rest in sunshine in front of certain piers. Follow the barking sound to find your way.

San Francisco is famous for clam chowder, a creamy seafood soup that is served in a white bread. There are several restaurants in the wharf that serve this traditional delicacy.

www.fishermanswharf.org, Shoreline near Jefferson between Powell and Hyde, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 626 7070

March 24th, 2005

Up, up and away (to north)!

As the strike was cancelled, we reserved flights to Oulu — with surprisingly cheap prices, too. Maybe people have been cautious with reserving flights due to the threat.

Our plan is to fly on Friday morning to Oulu, take a bus to Taivalkoski and spend a few days there, mingling with relatives and friends. The time should be spent also by reading books (I have six of those with me) and maybe doing some computer related tasks, if lazyness doesn’t stop me.

My personal plan is to get a lot of sleep. The latest trip to California is still banging my head every morning — haven’t got enough sleep yet. Otherwise, I haven’t had any jetlag, no waking up in the middle of the night as usually after intercontinental trips.

We’ll get back to Oulu on Monday and I’ll be working there in our local office on Tuesday. We’ll fly back to Helsinki on Tuesday evening.

The World’s Biggest Chinatown

San Francisco Chinatown is the biggest Chinatown in the world and a nice place to stroll around. The place is a mixture of real Chinese town with peculiar stores, Chinese banks and exotic foods, and a commercial version of the Chinatowns, maintained for the tourists.

Chinatown Gate

There are a lot of restaurants, all Chinese, of course. Some of the restaurants do not even have English menus, so you can forget being in the US and pretend that you have been magically transferred to the mainland China. The price scale is really wide, and if you are ready to spend some time hunging the restaurant, you can eat outrageously inexpensively.

www.sfchinatown.com, Grant Street x Bush Street (Chinatown Gate), San Francisco, USA

Soothing park in the middle of the city

Yerba Buena Gardens is a miniscule park near the busy shopping district and Union Square. The park is surrounded by tall buildings, but still it is able to calm you down. In the mornings, you can see Chinese people practising taiji on the park.

The park is especially beautiful during springtime, when cherry trees are blossoming and delicate white flowers sport in several trees around the park.

Yerba Buena Gardens, located next to SFMoMA

The park has some grass to lay on, and there are a few caf├ęs around it to buy something to eat. Bring a good book with you and before sitting down, remember to check that the grass is not wet — it is sprayed out every morning to endure better the heat of the California sun.

Yerba Buena Gardens, Third Street x 5th Street, San Francisco, USA

March 22nd, 2005

At the mercy of stewardesses

This Easter is the second to last weekend that I and Sanna can still travel with airplanes, as the pregnancy is on so late stages. So, we were pondering on visiting Taivalkoski and Oulu up north, but there is a possibility for stewardesses strike and most of Finnish planes would stay on the ground.

The strike will start on Saturday — middle in Easter, nice timing gals! — and the ending date is not known yet. The unions are currently negotiating to solve this issue, but if they cannot come into conclusion before tomorrow 18.00, the strike will begin on Saturday.

We might take the risk and buy the tickets. Finnair will compensate the tickets, at least they have promised this on their website, so we should not have any monetary losses. But then we had to come back from Oulu by train and that will take ages.

All the nerdy stuff

If you are a computer freak like me and are visiting in Silicon Valley (or Texas), check out the local Fry’s Electronics outlet. These huge stores are heaven for buying computers, gadgets and electronics. They sell also appliances, televisions, fridges and so forth, but you usually cannot fit those into a suitcase.

Fry’s Electronics in Palo Alto

The prices are okay, maybe not the best in the Bay area. Cheap enough anyhow to make you spend too much and maybe buy something that you really do not need.

All stores have been designed to reflect some theme, such as wild west or ancient Egypt. The Palo Alto store is a western looking. The interiors are, to be perfectly honest, a bit tacky but funny.

www.frys.com, 340 Portage Avenue, Palo Alto, CA, USA, +1 650 496 6000