Archive for November, 2006

November 26th, 2006

San Francisco / San Jose 2006 travelogue, part 2

I’m writing this in United Red Carpet lounge that doesn’t live up to my expectations of airport lounges. There are no sofas or comfortable chairs, no free booze and generally no nice atmosphere. My memories of the lounge from 2002 were much more positive, maybe they have remodelled this place or my memory is beatifying things.

I’m also too cheap to get an overpriced T-Mobile WLAN access for an hour, so this will be posted later.

Monday and Tuesday was spent with all kinds of business activities, so not too much to say about those days.

On Wednesday the trip continued to San Jose. I had reserved a car from avis.com and surprisingly enough I got exactly the car I had ordered with the same price. As there were some extra time on the day, we spent the morning in Muir Woods — an excellent nature reserve to see some old redwoods.

In the afternoon we drove to Gilroy to visit the 145 outlets in Chelsea Premium Outlets village. We didn’t step into every single of those, but anyhow a formidable number and spent surprisingly little for the amount of stuff that we bought.

The outlets were boasting huge discounts for the black Friday, but fortunately we visited them already on Wednesday; there were no huge crowds and most of the discounts were already in place. After shopping, we arrived to San Jose just before darkness fell, and I had an evening meeting.
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November 20th, 2006

San Francisco 2006 travelogue, part I

As briefly mentioned in the previous entry, I’m currently in San Francisco — I’m writing this at the top floor (48) of Mandarin Oriental hotel, and the views are magnificent from the working desk. We have a city view room, so the vista is not so grand as on the other side of the hotel that has views over Golden Gate and the bay.

We arrived already on Thursday, but I’ve been so busy and jetlagged that I haven’t got enough free time to write to you. Better late than never.

Flying with an toddler is a feat itself and when a flight takes more than ten hours, it can be a real drag. We got to the Helsinki-Vantaa airport early to have enough time to stand on various queues. EuroBonus gold card opened the business check-in for us, but there is no fast lane concept in Finnish airports. After standing half an hour in the security queue, we were inside the international area and walked directly to the SAS lounge to access Internet and have something to drink.

In the Lufthansa plane to Frankfurt we got to hear that Aapo is not going to have an extension belt to parent’s safety belt, but we just need to hold him in our lap. Really strange compared to Finnish policies, but fortunately there were enough space to have him an own seat. He is sturdy enough to sit there.
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November 16th, 2006

To SF we go

I was going to write an article about our trip to San Francisco and San Jose yesterday evening, but I had to spent so much time with packing and other practical information that I decided to go to sleep instead. My apologies.

I’m now sitting in SAS lounge in Helsinki-Vantaa airport going through the mails that I’ve got during the night. Blessed are WLANs, as they make email tick. In other words, I don’t have too much time to say about the trip today either.

I’m travelling on business, but the schedule is loose and we’ve got enough time to meet friends and see some sights, too. More to follow later.

November 12th, 2006

Visited Espoo Modern Museum of Art

My home town finally got its act together and opened a hefty modern art museum in Tapiola, a few kilometers from downtown Helsinki. The museum complex has been renovated into an old book printing house WeeGee, and it gives shelter for five different museums: EMMA (Espoo Modern Museum of Art), Helinä Rautavaara museum, clock museum, toy museum and the city museum of Espoo.

Inside WeeGee lobby in Tapiola, Espoo
WeeGee is the biggest museum in Finland nowadays, and EMMA is the biggest museum in the house, taking almost all space on the second floor. There is an excellent permanent exhibition, mainly from Finnish modernists from 1910 to the present. The international collection is still small, but museum is actively purchasing new works of art to grow the collection.

The inaugural exhibitions featured Kazimir Malevitch, Knave of Diamonds group from early 20th century Russia, Iranian photographer and videa artist Shirin Neshat and Finnish photographer Timo Kelaranta. I was mostly impressed by the works of Malevitch and the Knave of Diamonds group. Photograph motifs are usually either too abstract or then too disgusting for my taste. Video art is not my cup of tea — albeit some rare works have been able to move something inside me.

We were planning of touring all museums, but Aapo got bored and we had to stop after EMMA and have something to eat in the café on downstairs. The toy museum would have been a catastrophe, so we left it to the later times.

Grande shoe store

Shelly’s is a biggish shoes and boots store just next to the Covent Garden tube station. Their showroom is full of shoes of all sizes, shapes and colours. Both genders have a big selection, but the men shoes look bit duller.

Shelly’s storefront in London Covent Garden
The prices are okay, but sometimes this shows as lack of good design or quality. However, you may make some real nice findings there, too. The staff is very friendly, but leaves you alone if you so wish.

www.shellys.co.uk, 14-18 Neal Street, London, United Kingdom, +44 20 7240 3726

Shoes and boots for the young

Ego Shego is a funkily named shoe store in the boutique end of Covent Garden, a couple of block away from the tube station. The smallish store has surprisingly wide variety of shoes and boots for both him and her — and as usual, the selection for her is much bigger than for him…

Ego Shego in London Covent Garden
The items are tilted heavily towards young people and mid-priced brands. The design and the craftmanship of the items are quite ok, but sometimes the affordability shows with lack of details or sort of old-fashioned design. You can find real gems, too.

Ego Shego, 76 Neal Street, London, United Kingdom, +44 20 7836 9260

November 6th, 2006

The first Halloween encounters

It seems that Halloween has became a non-religious holiday also in Finland. We got bunches of small trolls, witches, monsters and skeletons behind our door both on Saturday and Sunday.

We didn’t prepare at all, as this was the first time that anyone has asked me “trick or treat” in Finland. Fortunately, there were some chocolate in the fridge waiting for me or Sanna to make double chocolate cookies. No cookies for us, but at least the kids got something…

On another note, I see the trend a bit alarming — world is being Americanised and the local habits are disappearing. Halloween is known as ‘All Saints Day’ in Finland, and it is celebrated on a Saturday late October or early November. The traditional way is to go to the church in the morning and then visit the graves when the darkness falls. Somehow I feel the tradition to be more solemn, but also a bit boring.

Fashion for her

Covent Garden is an ideal location for a lazy afternoon stroll amongst shops, and Nine West is a good destination for ladies looking for fashionable and still affordable clothing and accessories.

Nine West store in London Covent Garden
The airy store is located on James Street, quite near the Covent Garden tube station. The ground floor is devoted to shoes and boots, and the basement has bags and clothes. The service is friendly and swift. The pricetag is higher than in the neighbouring shops, but still low enough to be purchased from ordinary salary.

www.ninewest.com, 1 James Street, London, United Kingdom, +44 20 7836 8485