You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Experiencing Finland’ category.
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!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
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
It’s official! On Tuesday, Feb. 9th Google Street view was released for Finland. You can now search for addresses in Finland and by clicking ‘street view’ zoom into street level to see your search results as if you were walking down the street. I’ve noticed in most places (all so far) that the street views are from Spring/Summer/Fall (having seen any snow in places ) But it’s pretty cool. Same objections are likely to rise up regarding privacy concerns for people who live in those areas (in the U.S. and pretty much every country other country that has street views it’s happened) but for travelers it really is a valuable tool.
We’ve had breakfast, had a walk, done some relaxing, the pig is about ready so what else is left? Christmas sauna! Here are some photos of the process.
Here is the sauna in the shower room of the house
This is a shot from the inside of the sauna
And here is the lighting of the sauna
Next up is sauna then pig dinner, then dessert and presents!
Third full day in Rovaniemi and I think I’m over the jet lag so here is a recap (sorry for no photos or video but it has been rather dark which just doesn’t photograph well and I’ve been a lazy bum…but they’ll be coming).
We landed in Rovaniemi on Friday and since then it has been a whirlwind of relaxation (translation…slow, calmness that is really hard to describe- though familiar to the locals I’m sure). Friday is kind of a fog as I was so drop down jet lagged I cannot begin to describe. I attempted to sleep probably all day on Friday but my boyfriend just wouldn’t let me- and after a few days I always understand when my internal clock catches up…but at the time it REALLY sucks!
But Saturday was full of all things Finnish! I mentioned the little bit of shopping but what I have left out is the endless coffee, reindeer and sauna!! The most Finnish day a person can have. Coffee in the morning, late afternoon, afternoon, early evening and late evening. I’m usually hooked up to a coffee IV but this is a real shock to the system every time. Had a visit from some of the other family of my boyfriends so all kinds of Finnish coming from everywhere- my studies over the past year have been so very helpful to allowing me an better understanding of what I’m hearing…just a little slow to respond (the internal hearing of Finnish, quick translation to English to understand and think in English what I want to say and then when I get back to Finnish boy is my head tired so I stick with step one and two- listen and interpret and stay on top of what’s going on around me.
Friday night with the whole family around we had sauteed reindeer which was AMAZING. It has been so long since I’ve had it but still as good as I remember. Then, a little more coffee and pastries and SAUNA with cider. AWE, heaven. A year since sauna and cider…well there is just no comparison as I’ve raved about on many occasions on the blog. Maybe it’s a good thing it can’t be bought in the U.S. because it feels like such a special treat every time we visit. Post sauna was relaxation followed by eventual sleep. I feel like a total bum being in my lounge clothes more than finding a presentable attire but I’m on vacation and I’m in Finland, perfect combo (and I was jet lagged and unwinding from the semester so give me a break!
Sunday was a day at my boyfriend’s grandmother’s in a nearby town (like a 15 minute drive but can never remember the name of the town) Set up her Christmas tree…they get them up rather late in comparison to what I grew up with- Halloween typically began the holiday season….quite the change Then more coffee and pastries, boy is my tummy staying full.
So, it is now Monday, December 22nd, Christmas is right around the corner and hopefully I’ll get myself out of bed and out of the house tomorrow get some good photos and video to share the celebrations of this amazing city during a holiday season that is is popular for around the world (and especially Europe from the thousands of people visiting on a daily basis to tour Santa Claus Village and the surrounding city.) It’s all really amazing.
So, in Finland today we are experiencing the shortest day of the year today on Sunday, December 21st. Sunrise was around 11am and it has just set a few minutes ago around 2:15pm…yep, about 3 hours of “daylight” up here on the arctic circle today…though it really isn’t sunlight. I haven’t seen the sun since I left Minnesota but I know it’s out there. Right now they sky kind of has the hazy look to it where it’s kind of grey and blue, sorry for not having a photo, I missed the “peak” time and now it’s just, well dark…I can see how it can be very depressing for some people (and maybe why the Finns drink . For me, I’m hoping for more snow to cover this ice to get in a run outside but for now, I’m just relaxing, reading, catching up on some TV shows and sleep and taking to a few indoor workouts. Tomorrow though, I think it’s gym time!
Below is the article from the Lapin Kansa Newspaper on the shortest day of the year and you can view the sunrise/sunset times here from timeanddate.com (English)
Sunnuntaina talvipäivänseisauksena päivä on lyhyimmillään pohjoisella pallonpuoliskolla. Napapiirin pohjoispuolella aurinko ei nouse lainkaan. Eteläisellä pallonpuoliskolla päivä on sen sijaan pisimmillään.
Helsingissä aurinko nousee sunnuntaina kello 9.24 ja laskee kello 15.13. Oulussa nousuaika on 10.29 ja laskuaika 14.03.
Maanantaista alkaen päivä alkaa jälleen pidentyä. Kevätpäiväntasaus on tänä vuonna 20. maaliskuuta, jolloin päivä ja yö ovat yhtä pitkiä.
I currently live in Minneapolis, MN but I was born and raised in Missouri, the land of strange and inconsistent seasons including a usually tame winter of an average 20-40 degrees F and occasionally 60s when we least expect it and balmy summers in the 90s with high humidity though sometimes we get surprised by chilly days as well. I remember the first winter I started driving and I was introduced the the true Missouri winter which most often includes a lot of ice rather than snow due to the warmer day temps and sudden night freezes. I can also remember days of heat warnings advising us to stay inside and stay hydrated. But, it was balanced, Fall was beautiful, Spring was rainy but it was always bright out.
I graduated from college 5 years ago in the middle of winter in Missouri. About a week later, I hopped on a plane for Finland for the first time. I can still remember the first time I saw the landscape of Rovaniemi, Finland from the airplane window, snow covered trees and beautiful landscapes with such wide open land I had never seen. Above everything else it looked so peaceful. was so excited…then I stepped off the plane and into the air and for a moment I hesitated considering jumping back on the plane and heading back south. It was COLD! Like really cold. So cold that I didn’t feel like there would be enough clothes on the planet to keep me warm. Now, I realize there are many people who endure this climate and would call me a baby for complaining but give me a little slack, I left 40 degree weather and landed myself in sub zero temperatures! It was unnatural and my blood was too thin to not be totally shocked. New Years Eve that year the temperature hit a real low of 35 degrees BELOW zero. I think at a certain point you get so cold that you actually begin to feel warm as your brain begins to shut down…it was crazy. BUT, I battled through, learned a great deal about proper winter gear over the next few trips to Finland and my move to MN (currently in the teens which is actually going to be a happy memory in a month when it gets REALLY cold up here) but now I’m becoming a pro!
So, after that long introduction, this post is about two things- Finland weather (more specifically Rovaniemi, Finland weather) and some tips for clothing to manage the cold. For starters, the cold is in response to Rovaniemi, Finland’s location. The city rests right on the Arctic Circle so cold should be expected. Currently though, it doesn’t appear to be bad. You can view the current temp above courtesy of Weather Underground, which is actually warmer than Minneapolis currently. I’ve also added a weather update to the left side bar so you can stay updated on current temps.
Beyond the cold though, it’s typically really dark in northern Finland in winter and you never really see the sun. Below is a photo taken at about 1pm in the afternoon from Rovaniemi and you’ll see what I mean by not really seeing the sun. You know it’s there but you don’t actually see the shape- kind of off on the horizon.
This is typically what the end of December is like before things start to turn around in January. So, not only are you on the Arctic Circle, in the middle of winter, you don’t have the sun to warm things up. This was why I was so cold (for me at least but I’m a total wimp in the cold). But, thanks to global warming I believe, last year was strange. Not much snow and it wasn’t that cold so this year everything might be different, I’ll find out I’m sure.
Anyways, so, when it’s cold, what do we do about this? All about the layers and most importantly the right layers. And one VERY important word you should memorize: GORE-TEX. All my time in Finland I have fallen in love with four big brands: Haglöfs, Peak (awesome website video intro), Halti and Millet with Haglöfs being my favorite by far. Not just because the logo is cool and the name is fun to say (pronounced in English kind of like Hoglufs) but it is so perfect, totally warm and so many offerings. My favorite item of clothing in winter is one of my two Haglöfs micro fleece. They are awesome. Looks like there are new models out too so I think I know my souvenir for this trip. While we’re in the Haglöfs department I also must mention the down coat that lacks words to describe the level of warmth! Bought it last winter and go nowhere without it in Minneapolis currently! I forgot, I also must mention my snow shoes that stay in Finland- brought so much stuff back with me the first time that they couldn’t fit in my suitcase so they now live in Finland. My North Face boots. Gore-Tex, waterproof, windproof, nothing getting through these things. Great to have in Finland for sledding and playing in the snow- because when I’m there I’m on vacation and when on vacation, you just gotta play!
So, the best of the rest. Peak is awesome in the fleece and hat department. Halti, I currently use their long underwear which is awesome and kind of an always on accessory. And Millet is my sort of early winter/before it gets REALLY cold out. You’ll find depending on your level of ideal warmth and reaction to cold to dictate what’s best for you but all of these brands are heavily used within Finland and you’ll find recommendations for all from just about anyone. Looking at each of the websites you can also see the professional athletes that utilize which ones which could be helpful to you winter sport people who want to use what the pros use. So…try out what you might like (and what you can find based on where you are) and stay warm! The graphics below are setup to go to each company website as an FYI.
What am I taking this trip in the cold gear department? My Haglöfs down coat, my favorite baby blue Haglöfs microfleece jacket, my North Face Gore-tex jacket (because it packs well and is light in case the weather is warmer than expected), Halti long underwear, My Under Armour cold gear tights and shirt for outdoor fun and my Merrel boots. Hats and gloves are a given!
*Please note, you’ll find more known U.S. brands such as North Face and Columbia to work out really well, I’m just sharing some of my favorites I’ve picked up from Finland to spread a wide variety of good clothing options out there.