Archive for May, 2005

May 30th, 2005

Looking back at Grenoble

The Grenoble trip last week was really fantastic time for me. I met a lot of very interesting and fascinating people, and had the luxury of spending almost two hours of my own in the city. I managed to get a few photographs of the splendid city that has lot of fountains and ornamental buildings basking in the bright sunlight. I’m not sure whether they are worth publishing here, but at least I can privately enjoy them…

All my four flights were on time, a really astounding feat from Lufthansa! I had a couple of hours to spend in the airports, but my work kept me busy — so I didn’t feel too bored while waiting for the planes. I got also a lot of work done.

The hotel was not bad at all — I was fearing to spend my nights in some sort of a noisy dump next to the railway station, but the room was spacious and silent. Only the quilt was below the standards I’m used to, but quite a normal fare in the Central Europe. The hotel room didn’t have any free sockets (how clever of them), so I had to unplug the minibar to recharge my laptop.

The Grenoble restaurant scene was briefly visited, too. I had three course meals on both evenings, quite late, and got probably more fat around my tummy — this week is strictly bike only and only soups are allowed. Both restaurants were good, and on the second one staff spoke English, too! I’ll provide reviews later.

I can highly recommend visiting Grenoble. I’ll be there again at the end of June.

The other department store

Sokos is generally considered as the second department store in Helsinki. It ranks almost in every aspect just a little bit below Stockmann, but it is still a worthwhile destination. The location is very central, between the railway station and Forum shopping centre on Mannerheimintie.

Sokos has an extensive Iittala shop-in-shop on the fifth floor, and the whole tableware department has excellent selection in general.

There is also a big grocery store at the basement and a McDonalds on the street level, facing to the railway station.

www.sokos.fi, Mannerheimintie 9, Helsinki, Finland, +358 10 765 000, helsinki@sokos.fi

Contemporary and classic tableware

Iittala is one of the best known Scandinavian design houses based in Finland. They provide a full selection of tableware, kitchenware, utensils and decorative items made of glass, porcelain and steel. As usually in Finnish design, the form of follows the function in Iittala items.

Iittala Shop

Their flagship store is located on Pohjoisesplanadi in the middle of Helsinki shopping district. The selection in the store is excellent — almost everything they produce can be found here.

Iittala is known by the Alvar Aalto vases, Oiva Toikka birds, Moomin tableware and a host of other Finnish classics.

www.iittala.com, Pohjoisesplanadi 25, Helsinki, Finland, +358 204 39 3501, shop.esplanadi-helsinki@iittala.

May 25th, 2005

To Grenoble

I’m once again writing this entry at Helsinki-Vantaa international airport — WLANs are really a blessing. This time, I’ll visit a new destination for me in France, Grenoble.

Getting there is a bit of a challenge, as there are no direct flights and the closest airport at Lyon seems not to be the connected that well. And then you have to hop on a bus that takes you to Grenoble — in an hour. Hopefully the Lyon airport is not as bad as Paris CDG; the most notorious airport for bad service and misleading signs.

The trip is strictly business and the timetable is really tight; I may not be able to do any sightseeing in Grenoble. I’ve understood that there would be an old town worth visiting and photographing. Maybe I can squeeze at least a moderate amount of free time to the schedules. Or then I’ll spend all free time sleeping, our son has been an early bird for the past two weeks…

Even cheaper children clothing

Carter’s Childrenwear has a store in Premium Outlets village in Gilroy. I’m not sure whether they have any normal stores (or is this a normal store instead of an outlet), but they are still worth of a visit for people with small children.

To be hones, the quality and the design of the clothes is not the best, especially when compared to Oshkosh in the next door. Fortunately, the prices reflect this fact quite positively and you can still find good looking garments with minimal prices.

Carter’s Childrenwear, 681 Leavesley Road, Gilroy, CA, USA, +1 408 847 3553

Inexpensive children clothing

Oshkosh B’Gosh has a big outlet store in Gilroy Premium outlets village. They provide clothing from newborns to preteens, both girls and boys.

I was interested in newborn clothing only, and find a few nice and cheap enough t-shirts and other items. The garments are colourful, not just the basic pastel pink and baby blue, and their motifs and designs does not look too babyish.

The prices can be upto -50% from the normal street prices, so you can make good finds here. On the other hand, Oshkosh garments are so expensive that you can find some other brand with cheaper price.

Oshkosh B’Gosh Outlet, 681 Leavesley Road, Gilroy, CA, USA, +1 408 842 3280

Big-box shopping

East Bay Bridge Center is one of the four big shopping centers in Emeryville, located near the Bay Bridge and the intersection of highways 80 and 580.

The center itself is a collection of big-box retail stores, such as CompUSA, OfficeMax, OfficeDepot, Toys’R'Us, and a huge parking lot in front of the buildings. The center is served by Emery-Go-Round, the free shuttle service around Emeryville shopping and accommodation locations. Plan to come by car if you are going to purchase anything bigger.

There is also a Starbucks joint and Taco Bell fast food restaurant.

East Bay Bridge Center, corner of 40th Street and San Pablo Avenue, Emeryville, CA, USA

May 23rd, 2005

Travelling with child

I had my first experience in family travelling on last Thursday, as I flied to Oulu with Sanna and son. The trip was not as hard as I had feared beforehand, son was most of the time very calm. Infant skull is still soft, so he doesn’t have any issues with the pressure changes in the airplane — these will be saved until later. He got agitated only when the taxi or the plane was not moving, but fortunately a dummy can do miracles.

I spent two days working in our Oulu office, and Sanna was picked up by her mother to Taivalkoski already on Thursday evening. I travelled to Taivalkoski, too, in a bus full of school children — frequent stops, but no noise thanks to my noise-cancelling earbuds.

In Taivalkoski, I had reunion with Sanna and son — it’s funny how much you start to miss the little fellow after being away only for a night. This week, I’ll travel to Grenoble and be away for three nights — I’ll be torn apart by my longing.

We took car down south on Saturday to meet my parents in Polvijärvi, and continue to Helsinki on Sunday. In other words, the trip was sort of reverse sightseeing tour, as both grandparents saw their first grandchild.

The boy slept most of the time in the car, so the roadtrip was uneventful. After first leg, I learned to plan the trip in maximum two hour sections. Good knowledge of the big service stations on our way is a blessing.

We continued further to Helsinki on Sunday. The trip was almost a replica of the previous one. When we got home, it was time to give son a bath and then attend to the chores. The amount of dirty clothes is amazing, especially when the person wearing them is so small…