Archive for December, 2007

December 28th, 2007

Family Christmas at our place

This Christmas was the very first one that we have been in our own home. Of course, I spent all my childhood Christmases in our home, too, but now home is mine and not my parents’.

Anyhow, we had prepared well — spent a good amount of money to groceries, sweets and other stuff. One cannot imagine how much five people eat before you have to shop for them. I bought a Christmas tree and arranged a Santa Claus to bring the presents on Christmas eve.

Sanna baked a lot, including (but not limited to) gingerbread cookies — really delicious, by the way — sweet bread (pulla in Finnish) and some other species of delicacies that I cannot translate to English.

My parents arrived on Saturday and stayed until Thursday. The days were mostly lazy, Sanna or I spent some time in the kitchen to prepare the food, Aapo had jolly time with grandparents, and we all ate too much. Every meal.

My sister and her family visited us on Christmas Eve and we visited them on Christmas Day.

There were an abundant amount of presents. I bought Sanna a Mulberry bag (that she selected) and a Hermes scarf (that I selected) and got back a Wii and a scarf. Not bad. The boys, Aapo, Onni and Eino got a bulkload of presents. Aapo’s favourites were two Thomas The Tank Engine wooden trains — he just stopped opening new presents after getting those and Sanna had to help him to get interested in the rest.

All in all, the festive season was extremely nice and surprisingly relaxing, too.

Sweet suite dreams

The London NYC has the best location for a hotel in Manhattan. Only few blocks to Fifth Avenue, Central Park and Times Square. The nearest metro station is just around the corner and taxis are plentiful.

The London NYC in New York City

The hotel is all-suite hotel, so every room has at least one bedroom and also a living room. Our room had a decent walk-in closet and a biggish bathroom. The bed is big and comfortable while being still firm enough not to drown into. The amenities are top-notch and the decor extremely nice — not too traditional, but not also too designed (as things look cold or feel cumbersome after too much of spit and polish design-wise).

The service was very friendly faultless except they removed all drinking glasses from the room every time they made it. Weird, huh?

The hotel restaurant is part of Gordon Ramsay’s emporium and looks decent. And is surprisingly inexpensive. Alas, we didn’t visit there, so cannot say much more than that. Menu looked super-delicious.

The location, room size and service has its price. Hefty. We were lucky to have a good deal from hotels website, but prepare to pay about $600 per night plus taxes in the basic room (suite)., 151 West 54th Street, New York, NY, USA, +1 866 690 2029

The museum for modern art

New York’s Museum of Modern Art MoMA is a sole reason to visit the Big Apple. Recently completely renovated, the museum hosts several floors of the most important art of the 20th century. Name any major modernist and you can bet on finding at least one work of him in the museum.

The Museum of Modern Art in New York City

MoMA is conveniently located in New York’s midtown, near Fifth Avenue. There are a couple metro stations nearby, and of course yellow cabs will get you there in no time (unless it is Saturday late afternoon rush hour).

The permanent collections are more than worth a stroll for a generic overview and the exhibitions dive deeper to a certain artist or a movement. The works of art are put on display with enough space and the museum never felt too crowded. The small sculpture garden is a nice place for some fresh air and art.

There is a design store, a well-stocked bookstore, café and restaurant in the premises., 11 West 53rd Street, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 708 9400

December 16th, 2007

Visited California, come back with no jetlag

Life has been busy as usually just before Christmas. Anyhow, I spent a few days in California at the end of last week, and finally have enough time to write a few words of the trip.

I flied with BA and I’m hooked to their service now. The planes were much nicer compared to Lufthansa and especially United — whose planes seem to be running down more and more every year.

I arrived to SFO and went through immigration and customs with surprisingly easy. Maybe the early arrival time helped, as there were virtually no queues. My bags arrived also timely and I could continue to Airtrain and to Hertz.

My rental car was a Hertz Prestige Collection model, so I could go to the Hertz Gold Club office that has nobody to serve me. Talk about premium service! Finally, a lady appeared and after taking my details informed me that my Infiniti G35 is not available. Then they offered first Audi A4 convertible, an SUV, a Hummer and then Nissan Z350. The last one would have been nice, but then they miraculously found an Infiniti from some bowels of their garage.

The car was a disappointment; huge powerful engine that responded too briskly every time you step on the accelerator. It was a bumpy ride without bumps on the road. On the highways, the big motor helped to overpass and join the traffic flows.

I bunked the three first nights in W Silicon Valley, a luxury / boutique hotel in middle of nowhere. The room was spacious and nice, but the restrooms showed that the building has not been designed as a W Hotel — the usual cardboard style walls you see in most US hotels.

Amenities and such were the normal W level, and as an additional bonus, the room had a microwave oven and dishes for two. Would be nice hotel for our family, too.

Most of the days were spent in business meetings around Silicon Valley and SF Bay Area, and then I just crashed on the bed. I woke up early morning, between 2 and 5 AM, so I had time to run some remote errands in Finland.

On Friday, I visited Petteri in Google and was shown around the campus. Had also a lunch in one of Google’s cafeterias. Nice place. Not sure about working there, however.

I visited a few stores and bought the usual stuff: Banana Republic t-shirts, legos for Aapo and books.

On Saturday, I checked out from the hotel (was the easiest check outs ever, just checked the bill in my room and walked out), returned the car to SFO and took BART to Mission district in San Francisco. I spent the Saturday evening and Sunday morning with Jyri, Ulla and Eliel, in their nice flat in Mission and around the town.

I run a 45 minute shopping spree in downtown San Francisco. Had time to visit about a dozen of stores — fortunately I’ve learned the streets quite well — and bought a bit too much. Can’t say much more, as one of the items was a Christmas gift for my wife.

BA took me back to London and then to Helsinki. I was here at 1.00 AM on Tuesday morning. Four days of hectic work ahead of me and a fear of jetlag hitting any moment.

It didn’t happen. For some odd reason, I completely avoided jetlag this time. I was tired, yes, but not drowsy and had no problems sleeping full nights with normal schedule. Strange, but satisfying.

Luxe de Luxe

Hotel Telegraaf is a recently opened small luxury hotel in the Tallinn old town. Carefully renovated in an old Tallinn central telegraph building, the hotel boasts with extremely nice and comfy rooms, impeccable service and a nice spa with swimming pool and saunas.

Entrance to Hotel Telegraaf in the Tallinn old town

We received the best service I’ve ever seen in Tallinn. Everybody were very happy to help us and the bellboy told all kind of details of the building and the hotel while escorting us to our room and then showed how everything works. And no tip required!

The room was spacious, bed extremely comfortable and all details in top-notch condition. The room was at least four meters high, so it felt really spacious. We had a lower level room, but there were no noise from the streets.

The buffet breakfast was sumptuous, and once again the service was heavenly. The spa area had two saunas, one for each gender and a swimming pool. The saunas were a bit too hot and the pool a tad too cold, otherwise the experience was once again very nice. The jacuzzi was just perfect. The spa prices are more pricey than in some downtown day spas, but still reasonable., Vene Street 9, Tallinn, Estonia,
+372 6000 600

Cheaper department store

Carlson is an independent department store chain in the Eastern Finland. Originally from Kuopio, they opened a new department store in Joensuu in 2007. Located in a prime position next to the market square, the two storey building hosts the department store and two specialist stores (electronics store and young fashion shop), all run by Carlson.

Carlson department store in Joensuu

The department store itself is a bit bland, at least to my taste. The selection is focused on the lower end clothing and, for example, most of the shoes are just too plain to be considered. The houseware department is much better and there is a lot of Iittala glassware on display.

I would first go to Sokos and if you don’t find something or the price is outrageous, check also Carlson., Torikatu 18, Joensuu, Finland, +358 20 742 7350

December 2nd, 2007

To go, that’s the decision

Frequent readers remember that I was pondering on going to California about a week ago.

I got enough business meetings arranged to make the trip worthwhile all the hassles. I’ll leave on Wednesday and arrive on Monday. Both those days are spent on planes and airports, so four days in the area needs to be enough.

I’ll fly with British Airways, as they had the best price and schedule combination. Lufthansa was better, but I procrastinated this one day too long and someone bought my seat…

BA is infamous for having too little check-in desks in Helsinki-Vantaa and Heathrow might not be the best airport for a tight transfer… Let’s see how stressed out I will be in the Helsinki – London plane.

Local art museum

Joensuu Art Museum is located in the very centre of the city, in an old school building that is impressive sight from the market square (see picture). The building itself is quite sight itself, being built on 1894 and used as school until 1974.

Joensuu Art Museum

When we visited the museum, they had a good Finnish readymade art exhibition on the ground floor and permanent collections on the second floor. The quality of exhibitions varies, sometimes there are real diamonds and sometimes you’d better pass it. The permanent collection is small and does not works from any bigger names.

There is also a permanent collection of Orthodox icon. That room is worth of visit, due to both the icons and how they are put on display., Kirkkokatu 23, Joensuu, Finland, +358 13 267 5388