Archive for April, 2011

April 29th, 2011

Skiing holiday

We, the Kalliola family, spent extended Easter holidays in Taivalkoski. The raison d’être was baptism of Sanna’s younger brother’s daughter, really heartwarming celebration of a new family member.

We also visited two skiing resorts near Taivalkoski: Iso-Syöte in Pudasjärvi and Ruka in Kuusamo. There were no snow to speak of on the ground, but the resorts were well prepared and almost all slopes were open and all lifts were operating. There were surprisingly lot of people, too.

The weather was warm and sunny, so the surface snow on the slopes melted quickly into slush and the skiing conditions deteriorated quickly. We hit the slopes early in the morning and got three to four hours of decent ski time. The boys spent most of their time with snowboards on Iso-Syöte and then Aapo promptly got sick. So, I and Sanna had a rare opportunity to ski together without anyone hassling around. It was surprisingly nice experience.

When we got back to Espoo, the temperature was at least +15C and I felt awkward hauling ski-bags around.

April 21st, 2011

Easternmost place in the EU

I visited yesterday Hattuvaara village in Ilomantsi, the easternmost town in Finland — some 100 kilometers east from Joensuu. The village lies next to Russian border and happens to be also the easternmost location in the continental EU. Cyprus might be still further east, but let’s not count it in, as it is an island.

Anyhow, I was there consulting the local entrepreneurs about tourism, social media, and community building. It was a different assignment compared to my daily grind, but it was surprisingly refreshing and thought-provoking also for me.

While riding in the car there (and not driving), I could enjoy the scenery. A lot of wilderness, not that much of people. I’ve born and lived my first 19 years in the same region, but maybe 150 kilometers to west. It was simultaneously very familiar, but still also exotic experience — a lot of old battle fields and war memorabilie, Orthodox churches and Russian sounding names for places.

Hotel with green twist

Hotel GreenStar is a certified eco-friendly hotel in the center of Joensuu. They’ve paid attention to electricity and water consumption, including automatically turning off lights, led lighting, sensor-based heating, optimised usage patterns, and so forth. The hotel is also fully automated, you can check in and out using a computer on the lobby. This was precious to me, as I arrived so late that the reception was already closed and I could leave swiftly without queueing to be served.

The room was big enough for three people, two single beds and an armchair bed. There was a big LCD tv, a fridge, a toilet with shower, and a working space in the room. Nothing else, so it was kinda bare. The Internet connection was included in the room price (65€ per night is a bargain) and worked like a charm.

I didn’t notice anything special regarding eco-friendliness, but that is probably a good thing as the place was quite comfy. The only thing missing was a hair blower, but I could cope without that. People with long hair might disagree.

www.greenstar.fi, Torikatu 16, Joensuu, Finland, +358 10 423 9390

Normal business hotel

Sokos Hotel Vaakuna is the most centrally located hotel in Joensuu, close to the market square, the main shopping areas and almost everything else (except the university). The four star hotel follows the Finnish “no frills” principle; all needs are taken care of, but there are no extras and not much of a personality either.

The rooms are quite big, the beds are very good, the shower works as it should, and the breakfast buffet is sumptuous with some local specialties. The hotel is located next to the biggest department store in Joensuu and there is a huge grocery store downstairs, too. A couple of restaurants are also on the same building.

www.sokoshotels.fi, Torikatu 20, Joensuu, Finland, +358 10 7823 100

April 8th, 2011

Again to Joensuu

I’ve just booked flight tickets to Joensuu and back, and I’ll be travelling just before Easter to visit Ilomantsi for lecturing and hands-on training session. I’ll be in the city for about 20 hours and most of that time either in Ilomantsi, on my way to and fro by car, and sleeping. So I cannot visit my parents in Polvijärvi, as I would just have a short sleepover without any chances of interaction. This will result in another hotel night in Joensuu.

I decided to try a “green” hotel in the city centre. They claim to be eco-friendly on their website, but I’m still a bit unsure what that actually means. Hopefully the green experience will be delightful also from the normal traveller’s point of view.

April 4th, 2011

To Legoland

We have been toying around with an idea to go to Legoland Billund this summer, and finally yesterday we had enough time and energy to put the plans into action.

We’ve visited all the other Legoland parks except Billund (and soon opening Florida, that will have to wait until boys are old enough to handle also Disneyworld and other parks in Orlando), and thus Denmark was a logical choice. Previous trips have been one day visits, but now we’ve reserved whopping two days for the park. The first day is reserved for research: the rides and the shops. The second day focuses on execution: revisiting the best rides and reaping most of the benefits from the shops.