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In the Twin Cities there’s a lot of Scandinavian influences. Today we came across an awesome one: The American Swedish Institute’s FIKA cafe. We came for dinner- meatballs are awesome (too good for me to slow down and take a photo but here is a photo of the cafe
After the meatballs we had an awesome cardamom dessert (laskianen pulla in Finnish). Amazing!
The top should be full but I started eating right away and thought to take a photo just before finishing the top half. Cream filling. Awesome! Grabbed a pulla roll to go for morning coffee tomorrow (photo tomorrow- great for watching the Thanksgiving day parade)
Then to the gift shop. And this was amazing- FINNISH CANDY!! My favorite! I have a big sweet tooth and this hit the spot.
Tons of Swedish stuff but the design, treats, etc blurs with Finnish so we were loving it!
Found a great cookbook I hope to order from Amazon ($10 cheaper than store and I am a grad student after all) It’s called The Nordic Bakery Cookbook. Can’t wait to try some recipes out.
Ready to watch some TV with my candy.
When I made my first trip to Rovaniemi many, many years ago, I quickly noticed the following scene:
If you couldn’t guess from the photo, you are looking at a row of slot machines. This is not an arcade, it’s not even a casino. This photo is from the local grocery store. And the scene is everywhere- either a group if 5-10 as above or single slot machines at local restaurants like Kotipizza (below)
The major company in Finland regulating slot machines is called Ray. Money earned from slot machines and other gambling under Ray (there are local casinos and online play opportunities as well) goes to support health and social welfare groups (more than 250 million euros in 2011 to approximately 800 groups). Even on their website they advertise Ray gambling as a way to support these organizations.
Personally I’ve never been a fan of gambling. BUT, when I’m waiting for pizza or folks to finish shopping at the grocery store, or even waiting for a flight at the airport, it really is a great way to pass the time. But don’t get too excited- this isn’t Vegas and payout aren’t the stuff of movies. I have turned a couple euros into over 20 before though
Here’s a photo of the exterior of a casino in the Sampokeskus shopping center
What is the experience like? We took a video of a recent play (below). It’s long but cycles through a few different games on one machine. You can see at the bottom of the screen in the video that English is a language option. This is new. I’m familiar with the Finnish language ones- made it more exciting- I really had the excuse that I had no idea what I was doing and therefore couldn’t be at fault for a loss. Those times are no more. You will be happy to know that Ray does its part in supporting responsible gambling though. They provide a link on their site to test if you have a problem. I couldn’t find an option for English on the page so I guess I’ll never know: Link to gambling problem support
Enjoy the video!
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Oh boy, talk about pizza. This is something I look forward to every trip and there is no substitute. It’s the crust that makes this pizza. Thin and soft but a little crispy. Cheese is subtle and not overpowering. It’s so good! I recommend anything with chicken and pineapple such as the Pollo Americana or Mozzarellapizza (with chicken). Ever had reindeer on a pizza? That’s an option here in Rovaniemi (I’ve never tried it myself).
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I threw on my “tourist” hat today and ventured out to capture some sights from downtown Rovaniemi. It was quite “sunny” so I took advantage of some good lighting (it’s sad but today was the equivalent of “sunny”). Beautiful day!
First up, Lordi Square. The middle of the city. Sampokeskus shopping center is behind me.
This is Sampokeskus shopping center
Arnold’s- great place for doughnuts!
R-Kioski (below) is kind of like a 7-11 or similar corner market in the U.S.
McDonald’s is here too.
Fun fact- Rovaniemi, Finland is home to the world’s most northern McDonald’s! I’ve never found it to be greasy enough though for my American tastes though- I think they actually clean out the french fry vats every night- tastes way too healthy.
Hope you enjoyed a little view into downtown Rovaniemi, Finland. More later!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
I probably make a similar post every trip but it cannot be overstated how much Finns love their candy. The primary desire in Finland is salmiakki, a salty black licorice type NOT to be confused with black licorice (two different schools of candy). There are literally dozens of different types of tastes, consistencies and sizes of salmiakki. Also found in chocolates and liquer!
But even candy as a whole is a huge staple in Finland. Below is a photo from a nearby grocery store of the “irtokarkki” (piece candy)- where you pick and choose individual pieces. The pre- packed aisle is twice as big. You’ll find this site in all grocery stores, video rental stores, and any other place with space to sell. It’s heaven for me (I have a big sweet tooth
The photo really speaks for itself! YUM!!
How is it made? Check it out: How to make sautéed reindeer in Finland (link)
For anyone traveling to Finland at any point ever in the future there are a couple of things to be prepared for. ESPECIALLY if you have plans to visit family and/or friends or become an invited guest to a person’s home. Finns put a lot of emphasis on hospitality and the cultural norm involves providing guests a full plate of freshly baked goods with coffee or tea throughout the day (finland is the largest coffee consumption country in the world so opt for coffee if you can). Below is a photo of the type of spread of treats I’m referring to
It should be noted that this is for just out of bed, morning coffee for five people AND, when my partner’s mother wakes up it will no doubt be added to with cakes and cookies that I could not find this morning (I’m an early riser so do the best I can to put the pastry plate together.) this happens every morning. around the holidays, the spread is of course bigger than usual but it isn’t too far off from the norm. And like I said, somedays, the goodies will spread two, even three plates depending on the number of guests at the table. We sig, we talk, we read the paper. It’s a Finnish ritual. If a friend stops by your house one day in Finland it’s automatic to put on a cup of coffee, pull out the cakes and pastries you have on hand and serve them on a platter to have a chat.
For us younger types during work weeks, our coffee treats for us and a partner at home resemble more like a couple Oreos, sugar cookies, snicker doodles, doughnuts, muffins, just something sweet to enjoy with our coffee while we read the paper and prepare to start the day. We wake up early to be able to enjoy this morning ritual whenever possible.
Oh and in Finland, be prepared to drink at least three sometimes five cups of coffee a day! Maybe more…and turning someone down for coffee or at the minimum tea, puts a target on your back as being a little “strange.” You can probably get away with asking for tea. I can manage coffee and water nicely. And if you want to make good impression, try a couple pastries but know that you are by no means expected to eat them all- Finns just want to offer a wide variety to guests so at least one might draw interest
Oh and quick followup, I was right, second plate of pastries just added to the table (photo below)
Want to get a live shot of Rovaniemi at any time of the day? They have great webcams that refresh every 3-5 seconds. Not full streaming but good still images that can give you a glimpse of some of the main sights and people.
For views of downtown Rovaniemi select Lordi Aukio and Rovakatu for two separate views.
To view the ski slopes check out Ounasvaara.
Below are the views you will see during winter time. These were grabbed from the web a couple days ago at full “sun up”. If you are viewing these in the early morning or evening during winter you’ll see much darker photos as the sun as either set or yet to rise. During the summer you will always see sunlight!
Lordi Aukio, Dec 24th, 2011
Rovakatu, Dec 24th, 2011
Ounasvaara, Dec 24th, 2011
As usual we had a traditional cloudberry and cheese dessert for Christmas day after dinner. I’ve tried this a couple of times and I just don’t like it. Probably the only Finnish thing I turn my nose up to and I’ve come around on most so believe me I’ve tried to like it. Finns say it is an acquired taste. The same was said to me about salmiakki and ruisleippä (Finnish rye bread) and in both cases they were right- I enjoy both, ruisleippä more than salmiakki. If history repeats itself I guess I will learn to like this too. For now, it’s ice cream for dessert for me on Christmas day- works for me!
I went out for another run today to celebrate the Christmas holiday and in keeping with the time of year decided to trek up towards Santa Claus Village. Finns observe all Christmas festivities on the 24th (e.g. Opening presents, Christmas sauna, big meal, and leaving flowers on tombstones at cemeteries. But for me, being an American and as most Americans do, we always did Christmas on the 25th so I guess I was hoping to be around something holiday related today. Enjoy the photos and videos from my journey below! I know I did.
1. It was a dark and cold start to the arctic circle
2. Santa Park signs helped me make the right turn (after I ran past it- no entrance this way, had to keep going to find the pedestrian road)
4. I made it. I never get tired of this place no matter how many times I go. Guess there’s a big kid in me.
Santa Claus’s main post office is at Santa Claus Village.
And Santa’s office is here too of course (he lives further north in Finland)
That dark line of string above those poles in the photo below is the arctic circle line. And yes, those snowmen are made completely out of snow!
And don’t forget about the reindeer!
Enjoy a video, listen to the music and everyone have a very merry Christmas!