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“Oh you’re from Finland! I have a cousin who’s been to Sweden.” “Finland… Isn’t that a part of Russia? I’ve heard these comments more than once whilst traveling overseas and frankly, I’m not surprised. Our beloved neighbors Sweden and Norway have always somehow managed to be much more appealing for overseas tourists and yes, we used to be a part of Russia so that piece of information is just slightly outdated (by nearly 100 years but nevertheless). The problem is we never knew in the past how to properly sell and market Finland as a travel destination. Probably largely due to the fact that we’ve been partly insecure of and partly ignorant to the beauty of our own country. Located just east of the sexy and attractive Sweden and west of the superpower of Russia, it seems Finland has suffered from a minor inferiority complex. There is an old Finnish proverb that literally…Continue Reading
Key West-6870
It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end. -Ernst Hemingway Yes, Key West’s very own Hemingway said it. On a road trip to Key West the destination surely is great but the journey matters as well. The scenery is pretty extraordinary in comparison with your average highway. Many ponder whether to take the time out of your Miami Beach holiday to travel to Key West. Personally I reckon it’s definitely worth your while. And my recommendation is not to try to squeeze the whole trip into a day but book at least one night down there, if not even two. It is entirely possible to explore the island in 24 hours but in retrospect I would have liked to spend another 24 hours relaxing on the island. We both think Key West was definitely the best part of…Continue Reading
Stortrask Sipoo-7318
If you are visiting Helsinki and southern Finland, you have plenty of opportunities to explore the nature as well. A few weeks back I never I would have believed we’d be getting such gorgeous winter weather here in the south. So on this sunny Sunday there was no way anyone could get me to a shopping mall when we have all these trecking paths and bonfire places only a few kilometres away at Sipoonkorpi National Park. The Storträsk pond is only about a 20 minute drive from Helsinki, in eastern Vantaa. As you have probably already heard, Finland is often referred to as the land of thousands of lakes. But we also have a vast amount of unspoilt forests to roam and our national parks are great places to explore the Nordic nature. There are altogether 39 national parks in Finland (we’ll be getting a 40th park for Finland’s 100th birthday…Continue Reading
Key West-6719
Fresh taste of lime with just the right amount of tartness, soft and smooth with a little bit of cream on top and a crumbly cookie crust. The perfect Key Lime Pie. Many recipes of this official state pie of Florida have landed here in the Nordic countries as well, but when you go to Key West, you absolutely must try the true, genuine, local Key Lime Pie. This was on the top of my to-do list in Key West as I am a great fan of cheese cakes. Therefore I did not want to settle for just any slice of pie but insisted on trying the best key lime pie the island of Key West has to offer. So I asked the lady at our hotel reception where the best pie on the island can be found. She sent me to Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe and I wasn’t disappointed.…Continue Reading
Miami Beach-6378
When traveling to the States from Europe you can be sure to wake up before sunrise for the first couple of days. I was mentally prepared to wake up at four in the morning after our first night in Miami but I pleasantly surprised both myself and J by sleeping until six o’clock. In Finland it was already lunchtime so we were pretty perky by the time we got up. J had already planned to go jogging on the beach and I was contemplating going with him. After a few minutes of trying to figure out the compass points I realised we would have perfect views for sunrise on the beach. So I ended up stuffing by bag quickly with some breakfast, a beach towel and my camera and off we went, J jogging and me enjoying the sunrise. And clearly we were not the only jet-lagged Europeans up and about…Continue Reading
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“Howdy, Pertti! I haven’t seen you since last winter! So you’re taking this flight too, I thought you flew out on Tuesday.” Finland’s national airline Finnair launched their direct route from Helsinki to Miami again at the end of October. On a rainy Thursday morning there were dozens of Finnish pensioners – and us – at the gate heading to Miami. Grandmas and grandpas were all excited and a happy chatter filled the space. They were all heading to Miami for yet another winter, escaping the coldness and darkness of the Nordic winter and flying to a sunny and warm climate with blue-and-white wings. We already knew many Finnish pensioners have apartments in Florida for the winter but we were still surprised to realise the great majority of the passengers were in fact flying to their second home. We were originally planning to go to one of the northernmost little villages in…Continue Reading
Auringonlasku hotelli tornista-6269
Sunset seen from a cocktail bar The best view over Helsinki is without a doubt from the cocktail bar on the 14th floor of Hotel Torni (Tower). And the best part is that while you enjoy the gorgeous scenery you can sip down a refreshment – or something to warm you up, depending on the season. We popped in on a Saturday in October just in time for sunset. I made it to the patio a few minutes before the red sun disappeared in the horizon, just in time to witness the beautiful red sky. Beautiful this capital of ours, isn’t it? Some practical tips: Hop in the elevator from the 1st floor instead of the ground floor if you want to fit in. Dress warmly if the weather is chilly and you don’t mind sitting outside as the space inside is rather small and often crowded. Check out the restroom…Continue Reading
Smogen-4774
Smögen. As a name it sounds like an über-Swedish open-top shrimp sandwich with a proper load of Kalles kaviar fish roe spread on top. I had never heard of the town of Smögen before. And just by looking at a map, I doubt I would have thought it would make a good destination for a weekend getaway. Lucky we have friends in Gothenburg who took us to Smögen on a mini holiday. Smögen is a town on the west coast of Sweden, approximately 130 kilometres north of Gothenburg, with about 1500 permanent residents. It is relatively close to Norway as well which is quite evident when you look at the people visiting Smögen. Although the town itself is tiny, the colourful and picturesque little fishing cottages and impressive rocks on the seashore attract masses of Nordic tourists during the summer. This must be the most luxury boats and Helly Hansen coats…Continue Reading
Göteborg-4609
Gothenburg 5+1 Oh our beloved neighbour, Sweden! How I have neglected you during my travels. Surely I’ve been on the overnight ferries and taken the daily trips to Stockholm like a proper Finnish tourist, marched up and down Drottningsgatan in the old town, but that’s about it. Therefore it was about time to fill this major void in my travel history during our summer holidays. And what would be a better way of spending your vacation days during the Nordic summer than packing up the car and driving to Sweden? We booked the ferry tickets with Tallink Silja and off we went, towards Gothenburg on the west coast of Sweden. And what a brilliant town it is! Easy to cover in a day or two. Gothenburg is a bit like Helsinki but, I must say, just a tad better in every respect. Just as those Swedes generally tend to be. (If you weren’t aware…Continue Reading
Notting Hill-8
Breakfast in Notting Hill At the end of our spring holiday in England we drove from the Cotswolds to London for the weekend. Because there’s no way you can visit England without staying in London, right? I reckon there’s always a good reason to visit London. And when you go to London, you have to go to Notting Hill. Cliche or not, I think Notting Hill is one of the most charming parts of the city. Since the entire area is chock-a-block with people on Saturdays, we timed our visit on a Monday morning this time. There is no market on Mondays but I didn’t really need it anyway. Instead we had plenty of room in the streets to walk around and stop for breakfast at my favourite place Gail’s Artisan Bakeryyn where there was no line at all. You can find these bakeries in other parts of London as well but I particularly…Continue Reading