Archive for April, 2005

April 29th, 2005

Vappu is approaching

Vappu, the annual Finnish carneval day is steadily approaching. Most of you know the day better as the First of May, day for the spring and the working class.

In Finland, however, Vappu has been traditionally celebrated by students and workers alike — usually in separate parties, though. As all academic people have been students in the past and old habits die hard, people of all ages and backgrounds are strolling around Finnish cities, drinking, singing and shouting — very abnormal behaviour for us subdued Finns.

We used to start Vappu celebrations on Vappu eve at 18.00 when Havis Amanda statue (nicknamed Manta) gets a student cap from a student union of Helsinki area universities. The statue is also washed as part of the ceremony. This joyful happening is witnessed with thousands of people in the Helsinki Market Square, the Esplanadi park and surrounding streets. Once there were so much people that I was on verge of panic, feeling being crushed and then stomped.

After this event we headed to a better restaurant for peaceful dinner as the partying drunken hordes are raging the streets… At nine or so, we would go to a private party to meet and make friends.

The next day, the Vappu day, starts early with a picnic in Ullanlinnanmäki or Kaivopuisto park south from the city centre. The whole park is full of people before ten and the best places have been taken before eight, so you’d better be early. We usually invited a number of friends and everybody is assigned with a set of food or drinks. Some picnics have been very sunny and warm outings, I’ve burned my face in a couple Vappu. Sometimes it has rained and once we got first snow and then hails. But as they say in Finland; there is no bad weather, only wrong clothing.

Vappu is mostly over, at least for us, after the picnic and we usually went back home and get some sleep.

This year will be different for obvious reasons (see the post on last Monday) and we are not going to anywhere. We got permission from neuvola (children healthcare unit) to have short outings, as boy had gained so much mass that he had passed the birth weight (and grown two centimeters — in a week!). But still it is too risky and cumbersome to venture to amidst Vappu celebration.

Instead, we’ll make sushi tomorrow and maybe get some snacks or something else as yummu, and on Sunday we’ll have good steaks. Hopefully boy allows us to eat without interruptions.

Fusion American Kitchen

Lalime’s is a small and cozy restaurant in quiet residential neighbourhood in Berkeley. Built in an old residential house and surrounded by half a million dollar small huts, the place is easy to miss.

Lalime’s in Berkeley

The food is fusion between Mediterranean and Hawaiian cuisine. The menu has abundant number of appetizers and a little bit more than five main courses. The dessert list is also extensive. Food is okay, not excellent — but the place is not a greasepot as many of the US restaurants. The portions are surprisingly small, but still of decent size (at least in European standards).

The service is very attentive and cheerful. You don’t even have to wink the waiter to get his attention.

As an additional perk, the restaurant has some recipes on it’s website.

www.lalimes.com, 1329 Gilman Street, Berkeley, CA, USA, +1 510 527 9838

Subdued British Charm

Burberry has been quite chic for the past few years and the subdued British charm is still a big hit with fashion aficionados. I can heartily suggest to buy a few Burberry handbags or scarfs — you can never have too many of them. Trenchcoats are another longtime favourite.

Burberry on Post Street

San Francisco store is located on the high-end shopping district near Union Square. The store caters for both ladies and gentlemen on five floors.

www.burberry.com, 225 Post Street, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 392 2200

April 25th, 2005

It’s a Boy!

Last Thursday evening, just after seven o’clock news, our baby decided to meet the parents. The expected date was May 3, so the process was one and half week early. The delivery started with trickles of amniotic fluid, and soon I found myself packing my stuff frantically — Sanna, on the other hand, had packed everything already a couple of weeks ago.

After I had calmed down from the first panic, I got organised and arranged our stuff to bags and us to taxi to Kätilöopisto, one of the hospitals in Helsinki region for delivering babies. The taxi driver was most probably the most nervous of us three, fearing that the baby would be born in the cab…

The reception from the nursing staff was much cooler and professional. They checked the situation that the delivery was really going on and there wouldn’t be any possibilities for turning back. After waiting a couple of hours, we were ushered to the delivery room and surrounded with midwife and her assistant, a midwife student.

We spent agonising 15 hours in that room, Sanna in constant pains and I so restless that I couldn’t stand sitting a few minutes, but I had to be constantly moving. Some of the operations in modern birth are so gruesome — at least from father’s point of view — that I won’t describe them here.

We saw three shifts of nurses and midwifes, and two shifts of doctors before it was decided that the baby won’t born by himself, but a Caesarean section is needed. The preparations took almost half an hour, Sanna was taken away and I changed my clothes — just to see Sanna’s bed being rolled back. There were some more urgent mother before us, so we were put on the queue.

Finally it was our turn. I was so pale that the staff asked whether I’m going to faint or do something else equally stupid in the operation room… After fifteen minutes we heard the first cries and soon after Sanna got the baby boy in her arms.

Then I had the pleasure of bathing him, and he was measured. The next hour was spent with phone calls and SMS messages to everybody in my phonebook, until it was time for family reunion in the infant wing.

We spent three days there practising baby care and other basic parenthood tasks, and today we were admitted out of the hospital.

Below are a couple pictures of the happy family:

Our son sleeping near his mother.

Our son sleeping near his mother (Sanna is on the upper left corner in the background).

Our son sleeping very near his father.

Our son sleeping very near his father. Isn’t he precious? The baby, of course.

The Poshiest of the Posh

Ladies, don your husbands’ credit cards and buy all the luxury fashion that you have always dreamed! Saks Fifth Avenue store in San Francisco has been designed to satisfy even the most vigorous shoppers.

Saks Fifth Avenue at Union Square

The location of the store is excellent at the very heart of the San Francisco shopping area. The five floors of the building are filled with fabulous creations from top-notch designers. The service is elegant and courteous, so you can concentrate just on spending.

www.saksfifthavenue.com, 384 Post Street, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 986 4300

Bookaholics paradise

Borders bookstore is a very well-stocked bookstore in the heart of San Francisco shopping area at Union Square.

The first floor of the store concentrates on literature with some fact book sections here and there. The second floor hosts a good selection of art and photography books and the top floor has mainstream music selection.

Borders at Union Square

The selection is good, albeit tilted a bit to American literature (what is understandable). I can heartily recommend the second floor offerings; I usually find one or two photography books worth purchasing.

www.borders.com, 400 Post Street, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 399 1633

April 20th, 2005

Visiting Lake Tahoe

As promised yesterday, I’ll describe (albeit briefly) my escapades in Lake Tahoe area during last weekend.

First, a few facts: Lake Tahoe is a very popular holiday destinations between Sierra Nevada and Carson Range mountains, two kilometers above the sea level. The lake is famous of its cool and clear waters that are really, really deep (maximum depth is 501 meters, and average depth is staggering 305 meters). The lake does not have much life, as there is no algae and thus no fish.

The lake is divided between states of California and Nevada. This means that the eastern part of the area is filled with casinos that are filled with Californians. Otherwise the areas surrounding the lake are tranquil and peaceful.

Car trip from San Francisco takes about three to four hours during low season weekends and five to six hours on high season. The road is good and there is no need to have 4WD car — it’s an advantage, though.

Tahoe Keys

Our company had rented a luxurious cottage in Tahoe Keys, a man-made canal area at the south end of the lake. This is a good choice, if you are travelling with a larger group and are prepared to cook by yourself.
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Luxury for Him

Saks Fifth Avenue has established itself as one of the most respected fashion destinations for any self-respecting gentleman. The San Francisco Saks store has been split into two parts, and the collections for him are located on Post Street, between Stockton Street and Grant Avenue.

The downstairs has timeless atmosphere with dark wood cabinets and clerks in dark suits. The service is very delicate but still friendly. The collections include all relevant brands.

This shop is not for the cheapskates, but there is no extra in the prices either. Everything is just outrageously pricey.

www.saksfifthavenue.com, 220 Post Street, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 986 4300