Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Tall Ships' Races

Just informing that I finally went through the pics from the Tall Ships' Races. They can be found here. Although there really are too many of them. Choosing is just really hard. Maybe I shouldn't take so many pictures? Because then I have to spend hours and hours going through them.

So the Tall Ships' Races are held every year and every fourth year or so they sail in the Baltic Sea and come to Finland. They visit a different city every time and this year they came to Kotka that is a costal city couple of hours east of Helsinki. We happened to be close by and went to have a look. I've never seen them before. They really were quite amazing and one could get on board to quite a many of them.

The mexican ship was everybodys favourite I think. They had music on board and all the sailors were smiling and joking. The Russian ship was supposedly the second largest in the world. We figured it was a school ship since we saw a lot of young boys. But one had to pay to get on board so we didn't go.

Anyways, the pictures will speak for themselves. Here's a link to the Tall Ships' Races page in Kotka.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Otters And Other Mutters

We went to Korkeasaari on Thursday to have something fun to do. Korkeasaari is the Helsinki Zoo. It's one of our favourite places with Tommi. We go to look at the big cats mostly.

We used to like the tigers the best but now I think they only have one left since the other one called Manninen died a few years ago. He was everybody's favourite. And he had a really funny name too. Manninen is a Finnish last name, the type that you'd give to a conventional, boring, maybe a bit slow character in a novel.

The best cats are the snow leopards though. They have a lot of them in Korkeasaari and they are also very succesful at breeding. They have also the pedigree books of all the snow leopards bred in captivity and they are leading the snow leopard preservation program. By 2006 116 snow leopards had born in Korkeasaari. I think that's quite awesome. Currently they don't have any cubs there though. Last year there were two in Ähtäri Zoo.

Once a year in the Fall they have a Cats' Night in Korkeasaari. I highly recommend. You go there in the evening and can stay until midnight. It's the best time to see the night animals. They are also fed then and you can watch them trying to get the meat from the toys and weird places they put the meat in to give the cats something to puzzle over. They also have all kinds of program and stuff, plays and lights and lectures. Once they showed cat movies and documentaries in an outside theatre, one sat on the cliffs in the darkness and they projected the movies to the big wall behing the bear castle. I wish they'd have that again, it was fun.

The otters also tend to come out more at night, I think, and they are a lot of fun to watch. Somebody told me that they are the only animals that play just for the fun of it. They are also known to slide down slopes in the snow in the winter.

Here are two otters at play. Other pics accompanied with stories here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Friends from Jyväskylä!

We saw Kevin and Karoline for lunch and coffee yesterday since they were travelling through Helsinki. Fun! :)

Here we're sitting outside drinking coffee (yes, that's possible in Finland, sometimes). The store behind Karoline and Kevin is a photo shop called Picture of the Hour.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Countryside on Two Sides

This is a rather boring post, merely accounting this weeks activities: visiting family and the Finnish countryside.

In the beginning of the week we (Tommi and I) visited my father and his wife at their summerplace Tomtebacka near Inkoo. The name of the place means literally an elf hill. If you're curious about the scandinavian elfs, check out what Wikipedia has to say about Tomte, "tonttu" in Finnish. Those are the ones that hang along with Santa Claus. (Since – in case you hadn't yet noticed – this is an educational blog about the Mysterously Beautiful Land of All Things Finnish.)

Here's a picture from Tomtebacka. I was fascinated by the blue and yellow flowers swimming in the neighbour's field. They are weeds so they should not be interesting in the least. You'll find a couple of more pictures here.

To balance the week, on Thursday we drove to visit Tommi's mother and her husband near Hamina. There will be another picture gallery later – that is to say as soon as I have time to go through the 200+ pictures – from Kotka where we went to gape at some quite amazing ships.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Wedding

The wedding of Venla and Samppa was just as beautiful as the sky turned out to be later in the evening. The Ceremony took place on a patch of flowering grass against a cliff and afterwards when the pair walked up the path to the wedding feast the air filled up with soap bubbles that we blew since one's not allowed to throw rice in Suomenlinna.

The feast was in Pirunkirkko in Suomenlinna. Pirunkirkko means literally Devil's Church and it isn't really known where the name comes from. Wikipedia has this to say about the word pirunkirkko, namely that it means a cliff or rock formation that may have been used as a refuge or a sanctuary. It also has a pagan meaning. The Suomenlinna Pirunkirkko is a brick building built in the 1770's that has been serving as a naval worshop and store and also as a residence and is now renovated for festive use.

The party was both tearful and happy. We heard at least 14 speeches, which to be granted sounds horrific to any reasonably experienced party goer, but really it wasn't horrible at all for the speeches were so good. The food was also good, especially all the different cakes that had been baked by a multitude of friends.

According to the theme of the wedding after the dinner Samppa and his brothers and friends stormed in as gypsies. And then they dansed the Vagabond's Valse. They were just as I envisioned waching the movie.

Again you may check some pictures, but I opted to experience the day rather than record it so there are really only a couple of pics. Mostly of the incredibly beautiful sky in the evening and the setting sunlight on the reed decorations.

Monday, July 16, 2007


Hermanni is a living cake. I killed 2/5 of him today. He was quite tasty.

He's a friendship cake. I got him from my mother. He's a cake starter, like sourdough. You're supposed to stir him every day and feed him with milk, flour and sugar every now and then. Then you divide him into parts and give them to your friends (although, if you'd like to keep your friends make sure that they're either good enough friends or that they are immensely fond of baking). The last part you keep yourself and bake a cake.

The instructions are quite macabre. Every time you're supposed to feed him, it says: "Hermanni is hungry! Give him food". And then in the end it says: "Hermanni is hungry again. Today he'll get food for the last time." I mean, isn't that a bit cruel?

But the funniest thing in the instructions is that the word "stir" is in Finnish "hämmentää" which also means "to confuse". So the intructions say: "Confuse him 2-3 times a day." – So he'll be so confused by the end of the week, that he won't notice when you finally kill him?

Buy the way "confused" is my favourite word in English. The word "hämmentynyt" is a bit different, it's much softer, more like puzzled or bewildered. And you don't use it so much. Or maybe it's just me who uses "confused" so much?

Maybe my enthusiasm for the word has something to do with confusing a cat?

Friday, July 6, 2007

Princesses And Summer Nights

There is a reason for my silence these past few weeks. It's not merely because I've been on vacation and thus become suddenly unimaginably busy, but on Saturday last week was my friend Venla's bachelorette party and the previous week was naturally spent organizing and this week equally naturally recovering.

We were here. I rather think the picture is perfect. What do you think? It is the bliss of the Finnish summer night by the lake after sauna. But it was even better in reality. The air was so full of soft light and scents and silence. The place is Kattila Sauna in Nuuksio.

Before the sauna we had lunch at Herttoniemi Manor. That's the place where the old Finnish movie Kulkurin Valssi was shot. And that's the theme of their wedding. So we dressed Venla up as Helena, the heroine of the movie, starred by Ansa Ikonen. I made her costume. The lace is from my grandmother's old stashes as is the fabric for the shirt. The skirt fabric is from my mothers cupboard.

We also went indoor climbing. It was a lot of fun. I've never done it before. There was always a moment when I'd almost reached the top when it suddenly seemed like I'd never be able to get higher from there and that I'd fall. For some reason the very last bit wasn't at all frightening after that. Maybe it was the excitement of reaching the top?

In the morning we had city orienteering or that's at least what you call it in Finnish. Those who orienteer get clues to different places where you need to perform some tasks or solve some problems to get the clue to the next place. It's rather popular with university students and usually involves large amounts of alcohol. But Venla solved everything we'd planned rather quickly.

All in all, it was quite the perfect day. Thanks for everybody!

And for more beautiful pictures of Ansa-Venla and the evening at the lake go to my Picasa account this time. Frankly because my Flickr account is full and I want to explore all the free options before bying more account space or deleting old pictures.

Monday, July 2, 2007


A few hours ago we had a huge thunderstorm while the sun was still shining. It was awesome. This is from our kitchen window.