Archive for August, 2008

August 23rd, 2008

A couple new photos

I took one photograph worth publishing in our recent trip to Miami and Turks & Caicos. The photo was taken on the second to last evening in Turks & Caicos, when the hotel had their weekly “come back soon” festivities on the beach. Sun was setting, and someone had already put the torches on fire. The Caribbean breeze was blowing ever so gently, moving the flame constantly. I took three frames, and one of them was pretty good.

When I went through my photos, I also learned that I haven’t updated my artistic photos for a while. They’ve been standing still from early 2005 — it looks like that I’ve changed my subjects a bit when Aapo was born, so the surrounding objects do not interest me as much as the boys.

However, I made one finding. This photo was taken almost two years ago, when I, Sanna and Aapo were visiting San Francisco and San Jose. We paid a visit to Muir Woods, and I took quite a bit of photos there. When I looked them again, this photo looked a bit magical. The red, almost lilac colours make the view wonderlandish — at least for me, as we don’t have that much of lilac stuff in our nature here in Finland.

Your local book merchant

Books & Books is a small bookstore chain that has a few outlets in and around Miami region — there’s one also in the Caribbean… The store we visited is located on a nice shopping street in Miami Beach.

The store is not extremely big, but is has a wide variety of books and magazines, and some toys for smaller children. All major literature categories are present, which is quite a feat for such crammed space. There is also an excellent café in front of the store, so you can start savouring your finds with a cup of mocha immediately.

The location is good for popping over from the beach to get more books or magazines to read. However, it is not on the seashore, so be prepared to walk a few blocks.

www.booksandbooks.com, 933 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, Florida, USA, +1 305 532 3222

Movement of the people

Miami’s public transportation system has one unique perk: free Metromover trains in the downtown. The trains are frequent, clean, and air conditioned train cars sure beat walking in the humid tropical weather.

There are three loops in the system: one for downtown only, and two for visiting southern and northern areas surrounding the downtown. The stations are only a couple hundred meters apart, so people do not need to walk that far in the blazing heat. On the other hand, the train its time to run through the loop as stops are very frequent.

As the train runs on elevated tracks, it provides good views to the downtown area and surroundings. Especially smaller children love the train trip.

www.miamidade.gov/transit, Miami, Florida, USA

August 8th, 2008

Visited TripSay launch party

A new travel service with Web 2.0 twists was launched yesterday. Check it out at www.tripsay.com for more information.

I happen to know a couple persons in the company behind the service, and have been discussing with them about the system along the years. Yesterday there was a launch party in their premises, located in the design district of Helsinki.

Unfortunately I hadn’t enough time to mingle with all friends and acquittances, but meeting people even for a small amount of time was uplifting — need to do more of that in the future.

Huge mall on the outskirts

Malls seem to be the best choice nowadays to shop as much as you can in a condensed amount of time. Miami’s biggest mall is located in the southern suburbs of the city. As usual, the mall is designed to be visited by car, but the local train system has a station a few hundred meters from the mall. You just need to cross the huge parking lots to get in.

The mall is like any other mall; there are all the normal chains, a few department stores, such as Nordstrom and Macy’s, and a food garden that serves fast-foodish portions. There is an excellent cookie counter in a coffeeshop, though.

There is no playground or any other children attractions, so smaller shoppers might get bored easily. Visiting Disney store helps, and there is a Toys’R'Us nearby, on the other side of the train station.

www.dadeland-mall-fl.com, 7535 Dadeland Mall, Miami, Florida, USA, +1 305 665 6226

Asian fashion in Asian hotel

Shanghai Tang, the Chinese high fashion label has a miniscule store in the lobby of Mandarin Oriental. Probably not visited by others than the hotel guests, the shop has a selection of clothes and accessories.

Shanghai Tang shop inside Mandarin Oriental Miami

If you are fond of blending traditional Asian designs with modern influences, Shanghai Tang might have that stuff for you. The items are relatively expensive, but not on the levels of European haute couture companies. Of course, the brand recognition is also different.

When not residing in the hotel, you need to drive there — just say to valet guys that you’ll be there for fifteen minutes or less and they won’t charge you for the parking. There is also a Brickell Key bus connection from the local train and Metromover stations. But then you need to be really serious for the stuff, as it is bit of a hassle

www.shanghaitang.com, 500 Brickell Key Drive (inside Mandarin Oriental Hotel), Miami, Florida, USA

August 5th, 2008

Visited cold northern Finland

I visited Taivalkoski last weekend. Sanna and the boys had flown there already last Monday, and we were eagerly waiting the family rendezvous on Friday evening.

The flight to Kuusamo was uneventful, I read a David Foster Wallace essay collection until the place touched the ground in Kuusamo.

I and Sanna took a mini-holiday in Oulu without kids. We left Taivalkoski on Saturday morning, drove to Oulu, did some shopping and ate without anyone screaming or trying to run away. Nice for a change. The local toy story was still stocking the Lego Technic box (huge mobile crane that is not produced anymore) that I lusted over on May. This time I bought it, but unfortunately the box was too big to fit into our luggage. It will be waiting for ground transportation in Taivalkoski. Maybe better so, Aapo has been given quite many Lego boxes lately.

The rest of Saturday and early Sunday was spent with local friends, and it was blissfully easy time. Especially seeing children without always having an eye on our own ones.

On Sunday, we drove back to Taivalkoski and spent the rest of the day doing mostly nothing. Aapo watched Formula One race with grandpa. The driver born in the neighbouring town of Taivalkoski won, and Aapo named all drivers in his plays as Heikki Kovalainen for the rest of the evening.

Monday was spent somewhat with work, packing, travelling, and unpacking.

Well-stocked supermarket

If you are in need of groceries in southern parts of Miami downtown, go to Publix on SW 7th Street. The huge supermarket probably can cater all your needs. The selection is excellent and the people working there are more than willing to help you to find the stuff you are looking for.

There is pretty good sushi counter at one of the corners. I am always a bit dubious with supermarket sushis — as sometimes you get tasteless crap — but they know how to make sushi. The sushi is prepared on the spot, and they are willing to make items on the order, also.

The only problem with the store is that you need a car to get the stuff fresh back to your hotel. Or then buy enough items so that you can step into taxi without feeling bad about the expenses.

www.publix.com, 311 SW 7th Street, Miami, FL, USA