Archive for 2017

May 27th, 2017

Drupal events

After the previous update, I’ve attended to numerous Drupal events as an organiser or speaker or both.

The first one was the main event in the Northern America, DrupalCon Baltimore. I’ve been helping Drupal Association in Europe several years by being a track chair for the business track, and this was my first American DrupalCon as a track chair. And also my second American DrupalCon overall, the first one was in Chicago in 2011.

There are no direct flights from Helsinki to Baltimore or Washington DC, so I flew to New York and took a train to Baltimore. I was able to combine a couple of business meeting in the Big Apple, so it was not just a detour.

The con itself was pleasant, as they always tend to be. I met a lot of acquitances and friends, and also make a few new ones during the week. I skipped most of the evening activities and parties due to time difference and also because I had to divide some of my attention to Finland during the week – waking up at four o’clock in the morning, spending a few hours working, then breakfast and to the con.

Boy, I was tired after the last meeting on Friday in New York. Fortunately my flight was on Saturday, so I could have a long stretch of sleep on Friday evening – went to bed before eight. I had transferred some of my Amex points to Finnair and upgraded to business. It was actually my first transcontinental flight on business and I will sorely miss the experience when I’m flying next time in economy on a night flight.

Less than two weeks later I was in the next event, this time speaking in DrupalCamp Nordics organised in Helsinki. I was also in the organising committee, albeit had very limited possibilities to do much. At the end, I was able to spend only two hours at the location due to meetings and other hassle. My session went well, at least I think so, and got a few compliments from the listeners.

Fast forward one week, and I was flying to Frankfurt via Stockholm to deliver the same session in the European Drupal Business Days. My speech was on Thursday as a part of the CXO event and again I saw number of familiar faces and had good time in general. This time I was able to stay most the two-day event, had a fancy (albeit slow) dinner at the top of one of the Frankfurt skyscapers with magnificent views. I flew back via Riga, and it was surprisingly straightforward route with minimum hassles – actually my first experience with both Air Baltics and Riga airport, and I could see myself using their services again.

I was quite exhausted after such extensive conferencing. Fortunately the weather was excellent back in Finland and I could enjoy our summer cabin with the family; including also doing manual labour for five to six hours a day…

April 17th, 2017

Skiing Trip

We’ve just returned from our traditional Easter skiing trip from Ylläs – the biggest skiing resort in Finland. We spent total nine days on the slopes.

As the trip takes around fifteen hours by car, we took night train to and fro. The resort is quite distributed and using own car is a must, so we took it with us in the train. The ride took fourteen hours one way and we arrived in Kolari train station surprisingly well rested on Saturday one week before Easter.

We had rented an ski-in apartment next to the fell, and cooked most of our meals by ourselves. The kids are picky eaters and there is no point to go to restaurants to eat just french fries for a week. Thus, we visited the local grocery stores, even one in Sweden – it is very conveniently located, less than a kilometer from the Finnish border. We bought some Swedish specialties there and the bulk of the food from Kolari center before heading to the fell.

The week itself was nice but sort of uneventful in that sense that most of the days were very similar: wake up, eat breakfast, go to slopes, eat lunch, go to slopes, eat dinner, spend time in the flat, go to sauna, go to bed – rinse and repeat.

Our family friends arrived on Tuesday evening and we spent three days in the slopes with them, on and off due to little kids in both families. On Saturday they went to cross-country skiing and we decided to visit another skiing resort – Pallas – around 60 kilometers to north. Pallas is located inside a national park and thus it has not been developed actively – in other words, it still has the original Lappish feeling.

It was a fun trip. The slopes were in excellent condition and we skied as a family some part of the day, before the boys started to feel itchy skiing as slow as their youngest sister and then they continued on their own. The resort has only two T-bar lifts and nine slopes, but the views were spectacular. Unfortunately it was so cold on the summit that I decided not to take any photos to save my fingers from the biting wind.

In Ylläs I also tried going backcountry skiing by climbing to the smaller Ylläs summit – Keskinen laki. The distance is only a few hundred meters, but I got the taste of going upwards with muscle power and it felt nice enough that I could do it again later. Need to ponder on this and also think which kind of gear I would need – some of my current stuff is okay for backcountry stuff, but much should be bought, too.

Another big thing for me personally happened on the morning of the last day – yesterday – when I bit the bullet and ride my snowboard from the top of the fell, around 450m vertical. Before those two rides – couldn’t do more, my abs were hurting like hell – I’ve rode only on slopes for kids and beginners. Despite falling over multiple times, it was fun. I’m still sore, but happy.

We boarded the train back to Helsinki in yesterday evening and I felt promptly asleep a bit after nine o’clock – as well as the rest of the family – to woke up around seven in the morning. After getting back to home, we’ve unpacked the car and washed a load of laundry. Tomorrow is a working day, so need to get things done today.

March 17th, 2017

Visit to Viimsi Spa

My travels for the past five years or so have been either with the whole family or alone on work trips. I and my wife haven’t got the chance to spend some quality time together abroad since our trip to Amsterdam probably eight years ago.

So the expectations were quite high last weekend, when we dropped off children to my younger sister and headed to Viimsi Spa in Estonia. We took a fast Tallink ship to Tallinn and then drove with taxi ten kilometers or so to Viimsi peninsula north of Tallinn.

I must have been quite loyal customer to Tallink, as they send me a coupon to redeem business lounge seats for two people with eight euros per person per direction. The price without the discount would have been whopping 410€ and now it was merely 32€ – the discount was around 92%!

The business lounge is a secluded space in the ship with surprisingly plentiful and tasty buffet food and drinks service. And it was quiet, no announcements from PA. Especially on the return trip the lounge was extremely nice, as we were travelling on a brand spanking new ship Megastar – that had been sailing less than two weeks. Very airy and light compared to the old ships, way better looking materials and design – overall, not just in the business lounge.

In Viimsi Spa we had a normal hotel room, which was too cold and dark. I tried to set the thermostat a couple of times with no luck. The room also lacked lights, big time. There was one ceiling lamp in the corridor before the actual room and then two bedside lamps. Nothing else – except a led strip in ceiling that shoned indirect light through the ceiling and factually did not help at all. I’ve always wondered who designs the lightning in hotel rooms, as the rooms are almost always too dark and the light sources are far and between. I need to turn on all lights and still the result is mediocre at best.

Despite the room, we had excellent time in Viimsi. The normal spa is quite small but okay. There are several saunas which is always plus. There is also adults only spa that has more serene atmosphere – no kids splashing and screaming. The entrance costs 20€ per person for hotel guests, but it is worth the experience. I can also recommend participating in sauna rituals, had very fun and also surprisingly intense moments in sauna during a ritual.

We also visited restaurant Noa, a couple of kilometers from the spa. Highly recommended! Very good food with affordable prices. They should have a nice sea view, but unfortunately we arrived so late that it was dark. Maybe next time.

All in all, very good trip and a lot of activities – jogging, sushi, going to movies, etc. – squeezed in less than 48 hours.

February 28th, 2017

Skiing trip up north

The last week was a winter holiday week in the southern Finland, and our family spent it skiing – both downhill and cross-country.

We decided to skip the traffic jams and left Espoo on Saturday. The first destination was Häkärinteet near Jyväskylä in central Finland. It is quite low hill with dozen slopes or so, so it was perfect as a starter and also very nice for our youngest who is still learning the ropes in skiing.

We skied a few hours and deftly left Aapo’s skis there – just forgot to pack them in the car. This was found out on Sunday in Koli where we were next skiing together with my younger sister’s family. Aapo was, of course, quite devastated at first, but fortunately agreed to use rented skis.

Koli is the highest ski resort in the southern Finland and very conveniently located near my parents’ house. We spent the whole day there. Also decided to skip the usual trash food and opt for the á la carte option at the hilltop hotel. I ate one of the best burgers ever – highly recommended.

On Monday people went to cross-country skiing. That is not a sport for me, so I lounged at my parents’ house and fixed their PC and smartphone issues. The next day was a travel day to Taivalkoski. We split the trip into two parts by visiting Ukkohalla ski resort in Kainuu region. Never been there before, but it was a good choice. The slopes were nice, not crowded at all, and there was enough powdery snow in the woods and edges of the slopes to enjoy my backcountry ready skis.

Taivalkoski was in middle of our road trip, 800 kilometers behind and also 800 kilometers to go. We spent a few days with Sanna’s parents – their house is conveniently located a kilometer or so away from Taivalvaara ski resort. Our boys skiid there every day, also on the day we visited Iso-Syöte, a way bigger ski resort 35 kilometers from Taivalkoski.

They even went to ski on Friday morning and got a couple of hours of slope time before we headed to Oulu for a couple of nights with friends.

January 31st, 2017

Tallinn trip

I visited Tallinn, Estonia, on business on last week. The distance between Helsinki and Tallinn is mere 80 kilometers and ships that I frequent take two hours each way. And they leave every three hours from both Helsinki and Tallinn, so there is plenty of options.

But not during the last week, as Tallink put one of their ships to docks for repairs. They are bringing a new ship to the route, but it made its maiden voyage on Sunday and I had to be in Tallinn already on Thursday. Maybe it is a slow season now and they can cope with a single ship, departing every six hours.

I needed to be in Tallinn early in the morning and until evening, and the timetables were really bad. So I decided to take a slower ship and spend my night at the ship.

To be honest, I was quite dubious, as most of my overnight travels on ships have caused bad sleep, both in quantity and quality. But man has to do what man has to do.

And it was surprisingly pleasant experience. I embarked the ship in early evening in Helsinki, put my stuff into my cabin, and went to enjoy their hundred (or so) course buffet dinner. That was also better than expected.

There were some drunk young Finns roaming the cabin corridors and I could hear disco pounding one or two decks above me, but fortunately not too loud. There was also a decent wifi connection in the cabin, so I could do some work before dozing off.

The disembarkation started at 8.00 on Thursday morning, and I walked to my company’s office and started the day way fresher I thought.