Archive for July, 2006

July 29th, 2006

London travelogue

We visited London on this week. As I didn’t have a free Internet connection in the hotel room, I’ve to write my thought a bit delayed. Sorry about this.

The journey began early on Tuesday morning; we woke up at 4.30, hurried ourselves through breakfast, got Aapo on his feet, packed the car and drove to the airport. The flight was at 7.10, an inhuman hour, but the price was cheap enough to justify the time.

Tax-free shopping lost its charm a few years ago, and now airports seem to be in par with high street shops — thus we headed almost directly to SAS lounge. I got my gold card last year, and this was the second flight with it… Probably there won’t be a gold card next year.

SAS lounges are excellent, as they are spacious, well designed and quiet. They offer also fruits and bread, not just booze and cookies. I also managed to change our seats from the back of the plane to the front with the help of the SAS lounge manager.

The lounge had a splendid view to the runways, and Aapo was really excited about the cars and planes. Maybe he’s interested in engineering?

The flight was uneventful. Aapo got an own seat, and dozed off after being carried on the corridor for a while. The plane landed in Stansted, and we took Stansted Express to Liverpool Street station; 47 minutes from the airport to the city — not that bad.
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Magnificent views

The most interesting place worth visiting near central Kuopio is Puijo tower, located on Puijo hill very close to the town. The tower has excellent views to all directions, over the city itself and to the forests and lakes around it.

Views from the Puijo tower
The entrance fee is a few euros, and you can enjoy the views from an open air deck or behind glass in cafeteria one level below. There is also a revolving restaurant, but I can’t say anything about the food — the view is grand.

www.puijo.com, Puijontornintie, Kuopio, Finland, +358 17 255 5253
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Great cakes

Café Houkutus is a hidden gem in Kuopio. You need to know its location on the second floor in one of the Carlsson department store buildings, a block or two from the central market square. Once you’ve found it, you won’t forget it — the cakes are just that delicious.

Café Houkutus in Kuopio
The café specialises in cakes, but they do offer also sweet and salty pastries, too. There are both conventional and untraditional cakes, such as chili pineapple cake or white chokolate and whipped cream cake. The names are funny, too, but only in Finnish.

And the best of all: the café is inexpensive. Not dirt cheap, but very rationally priced. We were positively surprised how much we got with so little euros.

www.houkutus.fi, Kauppakatu 36, Kuopio, Finland, +358 17 368 2900

July 23rd, 2006

The annual Finland tour

We returned last night from the annual trip around Finland. This year our holidays are scarce, as we have our businesses to run and we had to squeeze a lot into a single week.

Last Saturday, we drove to Kuopio to visit Sanna’s brothers. We checked the local shops on Saturday and visited Puijo tower on Sunday morning, before leaving to Polvijärvi.

The two days in Polvijärvi were spent in my parents’ log cabin by the lake. The excellent weather had toned down a bit and the wind was chilly — otherwise very nice weather. Next, we drove to Taivalkoski on Tuesday to meet Sanna’s parents. There we saw the first of three baby boys we met during the trip.

The last destination was Oulu. We drove there on Thursday, and saw the two other newborns. Aapo has now three friends in Oulu already, and more to come. We enjoyed the hospitality of Sanna’s friends, had excellent food and very good company. Felt like a holiday…

On Saturday afternoon we departed Oulu towards Espoo. After 650 kilometers, we were here, exhausted but happy. Today we have done the chores, and tomorrow we’ll prepare to our next trip to London on Tuesday.

Delicious Turkish food

Restaurant Istanbul was referred to us by locals as a great place to eat Turkish food in Oulu. The town, as most Finnish cities, has several kebab joints that serve washed out junk food version of Turkish cousine.

Restaurant Istanbul in Oulu, Finland
This place, however, is completely different. We enjoyed an extremely well done set of meals on their sunny patio, watching people walking busily in between Oulu’s shops. The service was courtesy and fast, also check out worked flawlessly timewise. Restaurant’s location could not be better, it’s in the intersection of two pedestrian streets, facing Stockmann.

The only but is the price. Main courses are hovering around 20€ each and there is no lunch menu.

www.istanbuloriental.fi, Kauppurienkatu 11, Oulu, Finland, +358 8 311 2922

Huge children clothing store

The entrance to Nicky & Nelly store is a bit understatement for the shop: it looks like any small boutique door, but the store expands behind corner into a huge space full of clothes, shoes and accessories for children.

Oulu’s Nicky & Nelly
Nicky & Nelly is a chain store, but I’ve never seem them having so much of stuff. Maybe the Oulu franchise is running some extra brands or they just love to stock things. The variety of clothes is excellent, and most of the sizes are available. The shoe selection is very good, too — at least for Finland.

The store is located on the street that has Rotuaari, one block further from the ball statue.

www.nickyjanelly.fi, Kirkkokatu 11, Oulu, Finland, +358 8 563 0200

July 14th, 2006

Showing rich presence with Jaiku

The Web 2.0 project that I’ve mentioned here a few times has entered into public beta phase, and Jaiku.com is now open for everyone to register.

The Jaiku service has a bit different and very interesting twist compared to the bulk of Web 2.0 services floating around: the whole concept is based on your mobile phone usage that is studied to create an online rich presence about you.

Now, you can tell the world whether you are readily available on the phone, or do you prefer people not to call to you. Your contacts can further see your location, and you can write an one-liner about your current activity or mood.

All this stuff is also available on the web. When you register to Jaiku, you get your personal rich presence page on the web. Mine is janne.jaiku.com. On the page you can see the basic availability of the person.

If you register, you can download a specific Jaiku client to Series 60 smart phone that follows your actions and posts updates to the site, so that people can see your availability. You can invite people as contacts, and then based on the trust relationship you’ll get to see more of your presence data.

The integration goes beyond the web. In your mobile phone, you have a Jaiku enriched phonebook that contains presence information of your Jaiku contacts. Now you see immediately whether you should call someone or not.

Jaiku provides also badges for showing your presence on your blog or site.

Check out also Jaiku’s blog, Jaikido, for more information and updates.

Central department store

Kaubamaja history dates back to the Soviet era. It used to be a parody of a real department store just after Estonia gained independence, but it has completely washed its face — in fact, you wouldn’t guess the history, if you didn’t know.

Kaubamaja entrance in Viru Keskus in Tallinn, Estonia
The store can be accessed from Viru Keskus or from the old Kaubamaja building just across the street. The selection is large and caters most, if not all, your needs. The prices are in normal European level. There is also a large grocery store on the basement.

www.kaubamaja.ee, Gonsiori 2, Tallinn, Estonia, +372 667 3100