Posts Tagged ‘helsinki’

Helsinki Zoo

Thursday, September 17th, 2015 | Travel

We dropped by Helsinki Zoo while in Finland. They had elk! We also managed to catch the bear feeding.

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Finland trip 2015

Saturday, September 12th, 2015 | Travel

For the first half of our wedding we travelled to Finland. I do me “we”! All together we took a contingent of 17 people there. Elina and I flew out in advance to spend some time in Helsinki.

We stopped by Stadi Talkers Toastmasters club and then checked into Hotel Haven. Haven is my favourite hotel in the world. However, Helsinki is the only place we stay in a luxury hotel, so there isn’t really any competition. But it is really nice. I couldn’t blag us a suite for the wedding, but they did give us a celebratory box of chocolates!

Moomintroll looked very pleased to be back.

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We then headed off to have dinner. The first time we were in Helsinki we had seen Ravintola Nokka but decided it was too expensive. This time, we were here for our wedding though, so decided to splash out. It was awesome. The best food I have had in Finland.

Below is a panorama from our dockside meal.

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On Tuesday we visited Helsinki Zoo who had elk this time, and in the evening meet up with my family for a steak at Goodwin. We spent the day with them on Wednesday when we visited the island of Suomenlinna.

On Thursday we set off on our own again to visit Moominworld, before having lunch on a river boat in Turku and meeting Elina’s mum for dinner in the evening. We even had time to stop by the yarn shop.

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Then on Friday we headed up to Pori to spend a day on the sandy beach up there, before having a late lunch in the town.

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James took this photo of the beach.

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Saturday was the big day itself. I will write that up separately.

We spent Sunday touring the lakes around Laitila, going for a dip in two of them and making use of the beach sauna too. Trouble was ahead when Norman managed to lose his glasses in the lake, but Dr Barr came to the rescue by managing to dive down and find them – and they laughed when I said I would go fetch the PhDs…

Helsinki was good, but relaxing over in the west was one of the best parts of the trip. We’re already eyeing up summer cottages for when Worfolk Limited makes its IPO.

Stadi Talkers

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015 | Public Speaking, Travel

Having finally arrived in Helsinki after an exhaustive day of travelling there was really only one thing to do – find a local Toastmasters meeting. Actually, I had already found the club online. There are half a dozen in Finland but only one was meeting while we were there. Stadi Talkers is a President’s Distinguished Club, the highest honour a club can earn.

Meetings are conducted in English. Although some clubs speak in their own language, Toastmasters is generally like the British Empire – they go into other people’s country and insist their speak English. You have to learn Swedish as a second language in Finland. That means that the people at the meeting who were speaking more eloquently than I was were mostly doing it in their 3rd language.

People were friendly and welcoming. It was a mixture of Finns and immigrants, and the standard of English was high. A lot of cool people there too. I got chatting to a guy who used to work at Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds. They have something like 900 people working their now, which I assumed meant they were branching out into more games. However, it turned out that was 900 people all working on Angry Birds!

The meeting format only had minor differences to ours. They had Table Topics in the first half and a seperate person from the Grammarian introduced the word of the day. Every time someone slipped it in they pounded on the table. They even had an educational on Easy Speak – it would have brought a tear to Euan’s eye. Guests were only introduced at the end of the meeting, after they had had time to settle down and get comfortable.

I spoke twice. I did the toast of the meeting, which we do not have in Leeds but makes perfect sense when you are in a pub. I also did a Table Topic and came away with the ribbon. Not a bad start to the trip!

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Suomenlinna

Monday, September 7th, 2015 | Travel

Suomenlinna is a fortress island in the bay of Helsinki. It was originally built by the Swedes to stop the Russians from invading. Ultimately it did not work, but it is now a UNESCO world heritage site (one of two we visited on the trip, the other being Old Rauma).

The island has a selection of bars and cafes, six museums and a few shops. It claims to have a memorial to prisoners of war as well but it clearly is not where it is supposed to be according to the map. The island also has several hundred permanent residences ensuring a good ferry service. During the day it runs every 20 minutes and the day runs from 5am to 2am the next morning.

You have to walk on Suomenlinna, there is basically no disabled access due to the cobbled streets, hills and dirt tracks. However, the mile to the other side of the island feels a lot shorter because there is so much to see and do.

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Some panoramas too. Click for a larger version:

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Hotel Haven review

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013 | Reviews

While in Helsinki we stayed at Hotel Haven.

I was expecting the rooms to be really small, as they are shown so on the virtual tours. However, it seems that is only for sea room views; our room was quite large.

Positive points:

  • Good size room
  • Very well furnished
  • The wifi was included and didn’t come with any stupid login system – you just got the WPA2 code, connected as many devices as you liked and you’re on permanently
  • TV in the bathroom
  • Shower had a massaging shower head
  • Breakfast was good
  • Staff were helpful
  • It was very quiet
  • The beds were very comfortable and I got some brilliant night’s sleep
  • The curtains did a great job of keeping the light out

Points for improvement:

  • Our TV slash entertainment system didn’t work on the first night
  • The bed was two single beds joined together
  • The windows didn’t open

Overall, it was a really enjoyable stay and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back.

Photos:

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Video review:

Helsinki Zoo photos

Saturday, August 17th, 2013 | Photos

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Owls are such posers.

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This photo was really dark, but trusting my histogram, when I brought it into Photoshop the detail came out far better than I was expecting.

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An otter staring at his own reflection.

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This lion was sleeping right next to the fence, then woke up and stuck his head up just long enough for me to take a photo.

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This was through glass, but luckily it didn’t get in the way of his eyes.

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This was just a gull, but I took this photo after it had just snatched some food and flown off with it.

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Bears!

Friday, August 16th, 2013 | Photos

Helsinki Zoo has some wonderful bears.

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Helsinki Sea Life Centre

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013 | Photos, Travel, Video

I wasn’t particularly impressed by the Helsinki Sea Life Centre. It had some cool animals in it, and you did get to walk through a tunnel with sharks swimming over your head, but it was fairly small and over quite quickly.

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The first photo is a shoal of piranhas. They just sit there waiting for something to happen; it’s quite unnerving. I took a video.

Finnish Museum of Natural History

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013 | Photos, Travel

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A dolphin skeleton. They don’t feel much likes the clowns of the sea when you see how many teeth they have.

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Every single diorama in this museum depicted one animal eating another.

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The history of life exhibit finished by talking about modern times – including a chainsaw, skateboard, first aid kit and mobile phone.

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Roughly translated, this means “an exhibition on animal poo”.

Ice cream

Monday, August 12th, 2013 | Photos

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Finland do many awesome ice cream flavours. They do some interesting ones too. Here is Elina eating a Salmiakki ice cream, and in Laitila we found a tar flavoured one.