An Easter Trip to Hanko 
Monday, 17 .April, 2006, 12:01 - English Entries, Finland, Photographs, Travel
Wooden House in Hanko, Finland

On Friday evening Sari and I took a train to Hanko, where friends have a flat which we were allowed to use over the Easter days. When I said that I would go to Hanko during that time, most of the Finns that I talked to were asking "What do you want there?" and predicted that we will only see ice and snow. I was not too afraid of that, knowing that Finish people usually exaggerate when they talk about the disadvantages of their beautiful country.

Wooden House in Hanko, Finland Emigration Monument, Hanko (Finland)

In December 2002 I brought my car to Finland (that is part of a longer story, that I will tell at another time) and arrived one night with the ferry from Rostock to Hanko. That time it was snowing and I just took the road to Helsinki, without seeing anything. In 2004 I came back, but only for a two hour visit and also did not see much of the Southernmost Finish city.

Wooden House in Hanko, Finland Wooden House in Hanko, Finland

What I missed all this time is the Western part of the Beach and town, where one can find many beautiful wooden houses, which all have different colours that brighten up any grey the Winter might hold. Many of these houses were built around 1890, when Hanko started serving as a place for recreation, mostly for Russian nobles. Finland at that time was a Grand Duchy under Russia.

Wooden House in Hanko, Finland Wooden House in Hanko, Finland

The Hanko water tower looms high over the city. It is very different from other water towers in Finland and serves the city as a landmark.

Hanko Watertower Hanko Watertower

Also the Germans left their &ndash as usual belligerent &ndash footprints in Hanko, when Imperial German troops landed in 1918 to support the so-called Finish "white" guards against the Finish socialist and communist "red" guards during the Finish civil-war.

Monument of Liberty, Hanko (Finland) Monument of Liberty, Hanko (Finland)

Walking along the beach in Hanko is a special experience during spring time. The sun was shining, the sand on the beach looked inviting and the sea was still frozen. We walked to the "House of Four Winds", which is opend as a cafe in during warmer days.

Tree at Hanko Beach during Springtime The house of four winds

Although the city center is not as outspoken as the villa-area it is worth a visit, as a small muesum with art of local artist Carl-Gustaf Lilius is located there.

Art by Carl-Gustaf Lilius Art by Carl-Gustaf Lilius

We found Origo, a restaurant in a red wooden house at the harbor. Most of the restaurants are closed during this time of the year, but Origo just had opened on Wednesday for the upcoming summer season. The atmosphere in the restaurant is very special. The low wooden ceiling is held by a wooden structure and the side walls of the building are made of stones, on which candles are placed, from which wax drops down in beautiful shapes. The food is exceptionally good and should be accompanied by a bottle of wine, to make the evening a complete experience.

Restaurant Origo, Hanko (Finland) Candles in Restaurant Origo, Hanko (Finland)

It is obvious that Hanko must be very beautiful during summer time, when the sunlight emphasizes the colors of the houses and nature. But that does not mean that the town would not be attractive in winter and spring as well. During our visit we met very few people on the streets or the beach, most of the time we walked by ourselves and sometimes even were able to catch some sun. All was quiet and relaxing &nadash; a very beautiful Easter vacation.

Spring Sun in Hanko What's coming throught the mist?

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Lauri Eriksson - Suomi Pictures 
Wednesday, 05 .April, 2006, 12:17 - English Entries, Finland, Photographs

Don't expect to see too many sunsets over beautiful lakes when you open Lauri Erikssons "Suomi Pictures". Suomi is the finish word for Finland and this illustrated book collects all kinds of different impressions from the Nordic country.

A young guy standing at the urinal, a snow-covered remote building in the forest which is labeled as a "disco", a midsummer nights fire at the island of Seurasaari and a red plastic chair in front of a wooden house – Eriksson captures the slience and loneliness of the frozen lakes, apartment houses and cold city streets. She finds a way to make them look attractive and depressing at the same time.

She photographed many young Finish people who just look into the camera - some of them shy, some relaxed, others curious. Some are swimming in a lake or can been seen drunken at a party or laying naked at the floor of a small flat. The moments she caught seem uncomplicated and to allow the models to be themselves, without any posing.

It is all just now, it is nothing special and shows a lot more about Finland than any book that collects images of mooses, wooden saunas and lakes.

A look on Lauri Erikssons homepage gives a first impression about her works. It can be reached by clicking here.

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A walk around the block 
Saturday, 25 .March, 2006, 17:22 - English Entries, Helsinki, Finland, Photographs

I walked around in the local area for about two and a half hours. We had some fresh snow during the last days and now the sun was shining warm and the sea, that sourrounds Helsinki from three sides, was still frozen. I had no real aim in my mind when I started. So I first walked by the Sibelius monument, which is a five minutes walk from my home. Lots of tourists were there and I took some of the three million pictures that were taken there today.

Sibelius Monument - Helsinki, Finland  (3) Sibelius Monument from below - Helsinki, Finland  (4)
Sibelius Monument from below - Helsinki, Finland (1) Sibelius Monument from below - Helsinki, Finland  (3)

Further to the Western bay, where saw the blue pylons that hold the electrictiy wires which run between Lautasaari and Seurasaari. During the summer I often sat in the Meeritalli bar and watched the sun going slowly down during the very late hours of the day. The pylons are beautiful during that time, but also now, surrounded by ice and snow, they look tall and mighty, but at the same time - thanks to their color - light and graceful. I went to one of them and the sunlight was just right to make some picutres of it.

The blue Pylon - Helsinki, Finland (2) The blue Pylon - Helsinki, Finland (3) The blue Pylon - Helsinki, Finland (4) The blue Pylon - Helsinki, Finland (5)

Sometime later I came to Töölönlahti, one of the most beautiful bays in the whole city. Finlandia Hall is built next to it. Also this building has it's mystery and ambiguity. The closer I get to it, the more normal it looks, but the further I get away from it, the more it seems big, like a monument that attracts all eyes only to it.

Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, Finland (2) Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, Finland (4)
Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, Finland (1) Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, Finland (7)

The frozen bay was full of people, having one of the last winter afternoons out, absorbing the sun deep into their skins. It is becoming spring. On days like this, one might even regret this fact.

Töölön Lahti, Helsinki, Finland (1) Töölön Lahti, Helsinki, Finland (3)
Töölön Lahti, Helsinki, Finland (4) Töölön Lahti, Helsinki, Finland (5)

See more pictures of that little trip here. You can also watch them as a slideshow by clicking here.

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Some interesting blogs on Helsinki and Finland 
Monday, 20 .March, 2006, 14:23 - English Entries, Helsinki, Finland, Online/Blogs

I started looking for more blogs on Helsinki and Finland on Technorati and found that, surprise surprise, most of them are written in Finish language. During the last week I found nevertheless some blogs that I enjoyed reading and that all gave me either new information or expressed views that I found interesting. Furthermore all of them are written in very good English and show interesting pictures. So here are my first cross-connections:

"Lewism - About Architecture, Design, and Life in Finland" is a very interesting blog about exactly the things that are mentioned in its title. When living in Finland you will not be able to escape the name Alvar Aalto, who was the most influencial Finish architect in the 20th century. He not only was active in Finland (for example the Finlandia Hall is one of his greatest achievements) - for example in the German city of Essen you can find the Aalto-Theater opera house. Lewism provides information not only on Aalto in a very uncomplicated and interesting way. It is easy to read and every entry provides you something new. For example look at these:

  • about Aaltos Villa Carre
  • about the Estonian art centre KUMU
  • about the Struve Geodetic Arc - this is very interesting, it also lists the finish world heritage sites (guess how many there are before you read the article) and I have to say that I was startled to find out what the Struve Geodetic Arc really is
  • about delirous Helsinki - this is my favourite one. It is written in a very pleasent way.

The Finish Gambit is written by an American student who lives in Helsinki. It is a entertaining one, that talks about everydays life in Helsinki and what is all wonderful and to wonder about the Finns and their country. Besides that there are nice pictures and the whole thing is written in a not too-serious way. Some of the most recent entries include the following:

  • "trust in Finish society" – this describes a phenomenon I also wonder about and I agree, that Finns are very special in this respect. But I also have to say that you can enter subways in Munich without passing any barrier.
  • "todays lesson" is another thing that seems to be specific here - anyhow, I could sing and dance every Sunday, when the supermarkets here are open. This is a thing that will most likely never happen in Germany and brought me on several occasions close to starving.
  • I like this for its picutres and this for its humor and truth.

From the Finish Gambit a link is set to Jukka's Blog, in which you will find besides other things also comments on political issues that going on in Finland. There are also lots of reports and pictures from Jukkas travelling.

  • recently the Finish paper mills announced to unemploy 3000 people. Jukka's comments on this in Disappearing Paper II are very well thought through.
  • I cannot explain what this one is - you have to read it, it's funny and interesting.

That should be enough reading for a day in office - enjoy!

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Back Home Again 
Monday, 13 .March, 2006, 08:22 - English Entries, Finland, Travel
View from airport longue in Hong Kong

After having Friday afternoon out in the Sanya city center, mostly in a bar together with my favourite chairman and some local beer brands, I slept until Saturday morning and finally adjusted to the Chinese time zone. At 6 o'clock I went up, packed, had a short breakfast, checked-out and went to the local airport. 1.5 hour flight to Hong Kong. There waiting in the airport longue until the flight to Frankfurt was ready. It just took us 12 hours to go from the former British colony to Frankfurt. And from there then another 2.5 hours to Helsinki, where I arrived the night from Saturday to Sunday at 1.00.

My flat had the usual "there was no window open since one week" smell, but still it welcomed me warmly. I switched the computer on and half way on its way up I switched it off again, went to bed and fell into a restless sleep.

On Sunday I found out that the after shave bottle in my luggage broke and everything in the bag had a comfortable and intensive smell to it. The electric razor decided not to survive this attack. I am back to my old wet shaver again. Also looking at my flat at daylight is not the thing I needed after the long flight. Stuff from the Denver trip is still waiting to be cared for, books are piling up in several corners together with dust. There's no food in the fridge and no ironed shirt within these 42 square meters. Somewhere I find a to-do list from which I still cannot cross out anything. And I am still on Chines time zone. It will take a while to adjust to GMT+2 again.

But there is compensation for all of this. The sun shines from a dark blue sky onto snow-white Helsinki. The temperatures are low, which does not seem to be any problem anymore after the humidity and heat in Sanya. The week will bring two concerts in Tavastia. And wet shaving is not that bad after all.

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