Archive for October, 2005

October 31st, 2005

Moved to countryside (sort of)

As said in the previous entry, we moved from Lauttasaari to Ymmersta in Espoo. If you are familiar or interested in the neighbourhoods in the Helsinki metropolitan area, you may know that compared to Lauttasaari, Ymmersta is quite far from the city. It’s located next to Kauniainen, the old villa area that is nowadays known as the tax paradise of Finland (sort of oxymoron, yes, but you pay whopping 2% or so less taxes there compared to Espoo or Helsinki. The difference used to be bigger in the good old days.)

In other words, we have moved to the countryside :)

In reality, the house is a few hundred meters from the nearest railway station and the Helsinki – Turku highway is close by — but there is no ramp anywhere close… The services in Kauniainen are good, and they are in walking distance. Unless it’s raining.

I’ve noticed two key differences in the two days that we have been living in Ymmersta: it is much more quiet there, and people greet each other. The house is sometimes dead silent, and it requires some time to get used to it.

The moving itself was very swift, as a moving company took care of everything. We packed the stuff, gave orders to the movers and now we have to unpack everything. Moving a duplex full of stuff took less than 2,5 hours for five guys. Now I understand how they can afford to have such cheap fixed prices.

As the house is brand spanking new, there has been a fair share of glitches. Fortunately nothing major, but they are still annoying. The foreman has visited the flat three times, and every time the list of fixed items is amended with new stuff and some of the older items are crossed off as fixed. There are still some unexplored territory outside the house, as everything is not yet ready.

A hidden fashion gem

Annabella, one of the hidden gems of Tapiola, is a small fashion boutique located on the second floor of Heikintori, one of the first shopping malls in Finland. If you don’t know to look for the place, you probably will miss it. The only clues of its existence are a window filled with fashionable garments on the street level, and a small signs on the second floor.

Annabella in Tapiola, Espoo

The store has a wide selection of French and Italian fashion that they import directly from the manufacturers. Most of the clothes cannot be found anywhere else in Finland, and as the design and the quality are excellent, Annabella is a must for all ladies adoring French or Italian style.

The shop sells also shoes, boots, bags and other accessories. The selection is only for ladies.

Annabella, Kauppamiehentie 1 (in Heikintori shopping mall), Espoo, Finland, +358 9 420 8220

Cheap pizza and pasta

Frutti di Mare restaurant, located on the ground floor in shopping mall Heikintori, is part of the Frutti di Mare chain that has several pseudo-Italian restaurants around greater Helsinki. Beside the common menu, the places have also a common atmosphere: they feel like really cheap Italian bistro transferred to Finland. During the process, some typical Italian perks, such as good and unreserved service, have been lost and replaced with dull Finnish alternatives.

Frutti di Mare in Tapiola, Espoo

In other words, the place is sort of repulsive. For some reason, I still have found myself there from time to time. The pizzas are okay, they are big and quite inexpensive, the service is fast, and as you don’t have any expectations, you won’t get disappointed, either. They serve also a few varieties of pasta each day and some salads.

Frutti di Mare, Kauppamiehentie 1 (in Heikintori shopping mall), Espoo, Finland, +358 9 467 990

October 27th, 2005

Packing your life

I and especially Sanna have been busy this week packing our stuff, as we are going to move to the new flat on Friday and Saturday. The whole apartment has been put into boxes and bags, and now only the essentials are left: food, some kitchenware, and laptops.

It is amazing that how much junk you can store in a few cupboards. Now all shelves are empty and we have almost seventy boxes full of items, not to mention several plastic bags, luggage cases and backbags bursting with stuff.

The internet connection will be closed down tomorrow or early Saturday, and I don’t have any clue whether the new connection is already working. At least it was ordered a few weeks in advance, so that shouldn’t be a problem. So if you don’t hear from me in the next few days, I’m probably unpacking our stuff or then cursing with the faulty internet connection.

Café with great pastas

Escafé, a hybrid between a cafe and a restaurant is tucked at the very end of Tapiola’s Heikintori, one of the oldest shopping centres in Finland. They serve full hot lunch and also breads and bagels, as well as the full variety of coffees and pastries.

Escafé in Heikintori in Tapiola

One thing sets them apart: they serve really delicious pastas. I was a little apprehensive to eat there at first, but after having the first bite I was sold. I have rarely eaten so good and richly flavoured pasta, including my visits to Rome and Milano, as I got in Escafé. Usually these kind of places cook the pasta once in the morning and keep it warm the whole day, and add really sloppily made sauce — so it was refreshing to be proven wrong.

Escafé, Kauppamiehentie 1 (on the ground floor in Heikintori shopping center), Espo, Finland,+358 9 455 5033

Turkish delights

Restaurant Kilim is one of the rare Turkish restaurants in the greater Helsinki region. I have not counted various Kebab kiosks as restaurants, as there is a plethora of those and most of them are not worth mentioning. But Kilim certainly is.

The restaurant is located a little bit away from the centre of Tapiola, on the road towards Länsiväylä and Helsinki. It is still in walking distance, but you have to know the route, as the changes are that you won’t stumble there by accident. There is a map on their website.

During lunch hours the restaurant has a selection of various Turkish salads combined with a couple different main courses. You usually can’t help stuffing yourself so full that climbing stairs is painful. They have also an à la carte selection, but the price / quality ratio of the lunch is unbeatable.

The service is very personal and you can find the owner chatting and joking with the patrons — something that usually doesn’t happen in Finland.

www.kilim.fi, Revontulentie 1, Espoo, Finland, +358 9 464 656

October 24th, 2005

Weekend escapades

I became godfather yesterday in Turku. My sister’s son got name Onni, a beautiful traditional Finnish name.

The trip to Turku was surprising. First, on Saturday we packed our family and the stuff to the car and drove to Turku, bought a cake to celebrate Aapo’s six months birthday and arrived to my sister’s apartment. After savouring the cake, we gradually began to remember what we had left behind in Helsinki: a playmat for Onni, a weft for my mother and last, but not least, my suit and Sanna’s dress.

There were no other choice than to drive back to Helsinki to pick them up. I and my dad undertook the four hour drive to Helsinki and back, just to pick the missing stuff, put some food brought by my parents to the fridge, and turn off light in our bedroom. Boy, I was tired after the drive. This “detour” also prohibited me to visit any bookstores in Turku…

The rest of the trip was much better. The christening, on early Sunday afternoon, was relaxed and very cozy, and the food was good. We left to Helsinki at four o’clock and were at home at six, after stopping once for calming down Aapo — he had a huge road rage near Helsinki. Fortunately, his memory is still short and he was showing the sunny side after getting some food and a clean nappy.

Good lunch from the grill

Restaurant Tempo is a favourite lunch joint for workers in Tapiola. Also women with small babies seem to like the restaurant, maybe due its excellent accessibility. Located on the third floor on Stockmann Tapiola, the restaurant has entrances both inside the department store and outside the building. Note that the restaurant follows the opening times of the department store.

The lunch menu has usually a few different choices, including something grilled, a wok, a salad and a couple of other meals. The food is prepared in front of you, so you can be sure that the portions are fresh!

The restaurant doubles as a café, and the selection of salty and sweet pastries is good. The cakes can be also bought for take-away — or another choice is to buy them from the Stockmann’s food department on the ground floor.

www.stockmann.fi, Länsituulentie 5 (third floor on Stockmann), Espoo, Finland, +358 9 2706 0140