Archive for 2008

December 19th, 2008

Holiday season approaching

Today is the last (real) working day before Christmas, and it is almost over…

The autumn and beginning of winter have been quite hectic, running a company with growth ambitions in a darkening economic climate. Fortunately, our clients have been so satisfied with us that we’ve been able to continue with full steam ahead.

[Knocking on wood]

The spring looks interesting. There is not much visibility, and thus our ability to maneuver easily and generic flexibility are going to be probably our most valued assets.

Before that, however, it is time to take a few days of well-earned rest; eat well, have quality time with loved ones, and think thoughts that are not related to immediate tasks and challenges.

I might blog something before the Christmas Eve, but on the other hand, I might not. Anyhow, better be safe than sorry: Merry Christmas.

A typical mall

Cambridge is not the best shopping destination in New England, but Cambridgeside Gallery collects most of the chain stores under a single roof. Quite easily accessible from downtown Boston, too, the Gallery offers an easy way to browse through the basic stuff and offers.

There is a plenty of clothing stores, some shoe stores, Wolf Camera, Borders bookstore (pretty well stocked, by the way), the usual widget stores, and a food garden. There is a good sushi bar and California Pizza Kitchen is also a good choice for food, especially when travelling with children.

www.cambridgesidegalleria.com, 100 CambridgeSide Place, Cambridge, MA, USA, +1 617 621 8666

A sort of design hotel

Hotel Marlowe is located on a prime spot on Charles River basin, next to the Science Museum. The hotel is marketed as a design boutique hotel, as all Kimpton hotels, but for an European the hotel is too bland to be a design or a boutique hotel.

Hotel Marlowe on the background, in Cambridge, MA, USA

The rooms are big, as usual in the States, and beds are excellent. The decoration mimics design, but is almost a borderline case with kitsch in some areas. Fortunately, it is pretty subdued. Service works as you would expect in USA, everybody is really friendly and pleasant, but things sometimes don’t happen without calling twice or thrice to the reception.

The hotel is adjoined with a big shopping mall that can be accessed indoors. There is a plethora of shops and restaurants, all mall quality (in good and bad). No grocery store, but soft drinks and snacks can be bought from several stores, and some cafés open early enough for breakfast.

www.hotelmarlowe.com, 25 Edwin H. Land Blvd, Cambridge, MA, USA, +1 617 868 8000

December 14th, 2008

Too many inclusions in exclusivity

For the first time, Finnish shops are having big sales before Christmas — usually, the sales start day after Boxing Day, and some department stores, such as Stockmann, start their sales period after New Year. This year, the economic situation has changed this and there has been day or two minisales in every single store.

Stockmann joined the craze with their “exclusive shopping weekend”. People that are loyal customers to Stockmann and have spent enough dough on their merchandise are promoted into exclusive level in the loyal customer program. You get a platinum looking card, a few magazines a year, and two annual -10% sales days.

Yesterday and today Stockmann awarded the exclusive group with 20% discount on almost everything and 10% for food items. The department store was shock full of people already at noon when the doors opened. I and Aapo were there to hunt a few presents (found them all, thanks for asking) and spent almost an hour, mostly in queue to the register.

In Akateeminen Bookstore, I was a bit dumbfounded with my exclusivity. There were only 92 people in front of me, all of them probably exclusive, too. The store had been open less than thirty minutes, so I cannot even fathom how many exclusive deals there were made at the peak hours in the afternoon.

The exclusivity sort of vanishes when you find yourself in a herd that is just as exclusive as you are.

Delicious delicacies

Finland has long traditions of market halls; every formidable town has had at least one. Nowadays, most of the halls have been shut down and only a few are operating. These halls are usually one of the best places in the town to buy anything specialised food.

Turku market hall in Turku, Finland

Turku market hall is an old red brick (dating back to 1896) building located opposite of Hansa shopping center in Eerikinkatu. Inside, the hall has two corridors packed full of miniscule shops that sell meat, fish, cheese, vegetables and ethnic ingredients. A couple of cafés and souvenir shops can be found, too.

Turku Market Hall, Eerikinkatu 16, Turku, Finland, +358 2 2624 136

Miniscule luxury boutique

Kappashop is a small luxury fashion store on the ground floor in Hansa shopping center. Despite its size, there is an amazing amount of stuff on sale. Most of the garments, bags and shoes are for ladies, but they have a small collection of items for men, too.

Kappashop in Turku, Finland

The brands include Burberry, Lacoste, Filippa K, Mulberry and Sand. Not maybe the top-notch of haute couture, such as Gucci or Prada, but you seldom find them in Finland, anyhow. The service is cheerful, but they leave you to browse the garments in your own leisure, too.

Kappashop, Eerikinkatu 15, Turku, Finland, +358 2 250 1009

December 7th, 2008

Family skating in the downtown Helsinki

Aapo got a pair of skates from my wife’s sister-in-law’s brother’s children — almost from relatives that is. The weather has not been favouring us, as the temperature has stayed a couple of Centigrade above zero. Our local ice rink has no cooling systems, so it is available only when it has cold for a week or so.

Fortunately, city of Helsinki has gratuitously opened an ice rink in the shock middle of Helsinki downtown, in front of Ateneum museum and next to the train station. This is now third or fourth winter they’ve erected the rink on the square, but we have never visited it. Until today.

I went to migrate Sanna’s company’s servers, and Sanna and Aapo started learning skating — to be honest, Sanna is a good skater. For Aapo, this was the first time.

Aapo and Sanna skating in downtown Helsinki, Finland

After starting the migration, I packed Niilo to our stroller and headed to the rink. There is a nice café next to the rink, and it was surprisingly empty at eleven in the morning. Aapo and Sanna skated for a while, then had a drink with us, and off they went to skate again. I retied Aapo’s laces, and suddenly he felt much sturdier on the skates…

At noon, they started Zamboni to resurface the ice and we had to leave back home. Next time, I’ll try be on skates with him. It sure looked a lot of fun.

Fashion gem by the river

Donatello is one of the most exclusive fashion shops in Turku. The store is located a few blocks from the market square, just next to river Aura and Turku Cathedral (on the other side of the river, though).

Donatello store in Turku, Finland

Inside the pink building, there are several rooms that have a bit English luxury feel; old wood, elegant display and subdued service. One of the rooms contains garments for men and the rest of the shop is devoted for ladies.

Donatello’s brands include Boss, Max Mara, Furla, Armani, and Versace among others. The price tag follows the brand, so don’t expect find anything inexpensive here.

www.donatello.fi, Linnankatu 3, Turku, Finland, +358 2 232 3509