You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Travel Resources’ category.
Here we go again. Off to Finland next week for Christmas. Seven days away, here is what my check list looks like:
- Hold mail at the post office (I do this online)- DONE!
- Check the weather in Rovaniemi to plan what I will pack to wear (right around 20 degrees which is jean and sweater weather)
- Review the medicine and toiletry items that I can’t get in Finland and stock up (e.g. hair products, face wash, cold medicine- yes I can get some of these in Finland but some brands I’ve stuck with for years and like what’s familiar)
- Passport (Just like to double check that I know where this is)
- Gifts for family and friends (always nice to take something from the U.S. such as snacks, treats, and magazines)
- Start to mentally plan for everything else that needs to get done (I start making my check list of items I don’t want to forget and things to make sure I print out for travel purposes)
Two Harbors, MN
Holy Cow! Don’t walk to this place, run, drive fast, really, really fast. Pies, burgers. It’s incredible!! After a day of hiking at Split Rock Lighthouse (review coming soon). We made a stop at Betty’s Pies just down the road to grab some food to take back to the cabin and watch some NCAA basketball. We went simple getting a 1/2 pound Bison burger (with bacon) and french fries to split and stacked on a slice of strawberry rhubarb pie. First, we must talk about the service. Some of the nicest people ever. We obviously had no idea what to order or how to order and it was most likely evident that we looked out of place. But a man handed us a menu, let us sit at the counter and give us plenty of time to look over the very large menu with many options. And, to top it off, they threw in an extra slice of pie- which was a good thing because it was sooo good, neither of us wanted to share. And, as it turns out, those of you too far to visit Northern Minnesota, Betty’s Pies has opened in White Bear Lake (address below) so you can get it whenever you want at greater convenience. Seriously, it’s a must!! Enjoy, we sure did!
NEW Location: Betty’s Pies
700 Wildwood Road
St Paul, MN 55115-1852
The first time I went to Finland was in 2003 which was before all these great web 2.0 technological advances allowing everyone anywhere all over the world to maintain connections in every form. Before it was email and a cell phone in Finland in order to make calls to my family back in the U.S. Now, with the help of Skype, email, IM chat, Meebo, and blogging tools (and of course email) I’m just an arms length away from family, friends, and…because I’m a grown up with responsibilities, my job back in Minnesota for the university. So, as I prepare to depart from the U.S., putting 5000 miles between myself and almost everyone I know, I thought I would go through a walk through of the resources I use to stay connected.
Skype – An oldie but goodie and all around favorite for video connection. I don’t use it as much in the U.S. since I utilize IM chat and my cell phone but when communicating across continents, Skype is a must! I covered Skype In and Skype Out heavily in a previous post so you can read the post here from Frozen-Reindeer.
You can also reach me on Skype with the username: frozenreindeer (all personal contacts you have my personal skype account which you may use)
A side note- Gmail just implemented a video chat that I have yet to try but something of interest to check into.
IM Chat- There is no one IM Chat program I prefer over the other and there are TONS. On my Mac I utilize the software Adium so I can use all my IM chat programs in one place such as MSN, Yahoo, AIM and Jabber. I can sign into as many accounts as I want in one place so whenever anyone contacts me I can communicate in one place rather than having to learn my new chat platform.
Meebo – I’m currently trying this out in a couple different places. I had it on the left side bar for a little bit last week but it got so crowded so I’ve moved it (but it might come back so I’ll discuss it a little bit here) Through Meebo- as the viewer of the blog you don’t need to have any chat platform to message me, you can just head over to the contact page and message me if you see me online and you might get real time responses. In some areas it works well such as having online office hours or for customer service, we’ll see how this goes.
Email- oldie but goodie and never fails in both directions. On this blog you can email me anytime using frozenreindeer at gmail dot com.
Blogging Tools- what I love about blogs …what do I not love about blogs?!? Frozen-Reindeer is my third blog after using the first two as pure blogs to keep my friends and family updated on where I was and share photos and videos of my travels. The best part is they could share this with others so it wasn’t hunting around for an email address or individual emails or cards sent with photos. Rather, it is one place to hold everything and let people stop in at their leisure to read. On Frozen-Reindeer all of you readers with your great emails and feedback have helped me structure this blog to something that can be enjoyed by anyone with a connection to Finland.
How do I stay connected? Frozen-Reindeer as my blog on WordPress, Gmail as my email client as well as my personal email accounts, Adium for all of my IM Chat needs and of course, Skype (I get a Skype In and Skype Out Account making it easy for my family to find me when traveling.
As we get ready to head off to Finland I hope you’ll continue to read and watch and feel free to email me or catch me on chat if you want to connect.
As of Monday, December 15th, we are two days away from taking off to Finland!
“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.” ~Plato
It is no secret to most people who know me that I am a bit of a fitness geek. I’ve always been an avid athlete but over the past year and a half I’ve really established this amazing Zen experience with the gym and all things health and fitness related. Those familiar with the terrain in Minneapolis can speak to the flat lands, endless rivers and amazing scenery. This environment is optimal for outdoor training and there is such an active population of individuals up here that has been great to turn me into a really healthy, active person who’s become obsessed with lifting and running and all around health. A challenge to this fitness mindset is traveling. I’ve been lucky so far during the past year to either be traveling in the summer with miles of outdoor space to run or to be staying in a hotel with a fitness center. What I haven’t experienced since this new fitness kick set in is a winter vacation in the cold with a gym pretty far away in downtown Rovaniemi. It’s going to be a struggle for me to balance but…when you catch the bug you find the ability to strategize and be flexible so much easier. So, this is a post about my plan to continue staying active while on vacation in Rovaniemi, Finland…we’ll see how it goes.
First of all, I really want to continue running but HATE running in the cold (I stick to the treadmill here in MN in winter). I’ve also had sports induced asthma since I was 13 which has never agreed with the cold BUT, I’m determined. Today we headed over to REI and I got some gear to attempt some outdoor workouts in 20-30 degree weather (the sound of that just makes me shiver). In addition to my Under Armour tights and wind resistant shell jacket I needed some good shirts. Bought myself an Under Armour Cold Gear shirt along with a Nike fleece lined shell like top. This combo equals dryness, warmth and also all around breathability so the heat is retained but not suffocating. Next up, the head. This part is tricky. Instinct tells me to wrap my head in fleece and throw on some skii goggles to prevent myself from catching a nasty cold but with the help of some friends who do outdoor workouts in the winter and my boyfriend’s experience with the cold my headwear is going to consist of a hat low enough to cover my ears completely and potentially a head cover things that runs down to my neck. The neck and ears are crucial but I also want to see if I can’t cover my mouth a bit to ease the breathing in of cold air. Tomorrow the plan is to top off the outfit with a good pair of fleece lined pants to cover the Under Armour tights. Socks are covered- probably a dual layer of Smart Wool socks and fleece lined sport socks- dryness and warmth. Gloves are also taken care of. Shoes, that one will be trial and error. Going with a pair of trusted Nikes until I fall and hurt myself running on snow and need to run to the store in Rovaniemi to get something to run outside in.
In addition to running I’ve been combing all of my Women’s Health and Oxygen magazines looking for indoor exercises and just about all of them emphasize the benefits of jump ropes (both in traveling and in the resulting workout). About 30 min. every couple of days along with a couple days each week hitting a couple miles outside and round it all out with ab routines and push ups, I think I’ll be able to maintain my level of fitness while in Finland…hopefully, again, this is the first time I’m trying not to rely on the gym and attempt outdoor exercising so it might be a short lived goal until I start hitching rides downtown to the gym.
It’s really too bad I’m not a winter sport athlete because Rovaniemi has some pretty amazing cross country skii trails. But, I’m just not good at those sports even though they are great workouts. Here is a photo of what these trails look like- look at the right and left sides of the snow- preset to step your skiis into and just go wherever you want- grocery store, downtown, Santa Claus Village and all of your friends and neighbors along the way. Yes, for all of you thinking this is crazy, I partly agree but, to these Finns (and even some Minnesotans it turns out) it is as natural as walking.
My hope is to get in a few weight workouts at my new favorite gym in Rovaniemi: Kuntokaruselli. View my review of Kuntokaruselli if you’re interested in working out in Rovaniemi. The gym is absolutely great and unless things have changed since last December and January they have great daily pass rates.
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.
Before heading off to Finland (or really any place out of the country) I always make a list of things to do, things to pack, and things in general to remember before departing for a long period of time from the U.S. The first time I went to Finland, my list was LONG and hand written and my things to pack was HUGE (as with many people, when heading to another country we often assume that the people, the culture and the stores are going to be drastically different and don’t sell things like lotion or face wash…boy is packing much easier now.
Currently, my To Do List involves things like paying bills (when you’re out of the country for the 1st of the month, this is one thing I don’t plan on having to send from Finland…yep, have had this happen and had to mail a check from Finland! Other things include cleaning out the fridge, turning off all electronics in the house- you hear one or two horror stories about cables sparking and catching on fire and you don’t take chances. Back up computer hard drives, make sure a friend or two has a key to your apartment or house. In Minneapolis, a new item added to my list involves finding a place to park the car in case of snow shoveling. Currently, the best deal for paid parking is at Park ‘N Fly near the Minneapolis Airport- they have a coupon for $49 a week. If you have friends in the area, that’s ideally the best bet if they have garage or driveway spots.
Packing, that keeps getting easier and easier which is good due to new airline bag rules and weight regulations for checked baggage. For us this year it is tricky because bag limits from Helsinki to Rovaniemi have become one bag but Minneapolis to Helsinki allows two bags…and weight guidelines have decreased dramatically over the past 5 years. But, the good thing about Finland in winter, layers are good. A few pairs of pants, a few sweaters, one good fleece, a few long sleeve T-shirts and a good pair of shoes and you’re set. Oh, and of course a good coat *REMEMBER: If you take it there, you need to bring it back- in most cases, I’m lucky that when I run over in weight on things like books, I can leave them with friends/family and get them next time. This is important to note because to go to Finland means souvenirs when you come back- make sure you have room for the all important Finnish Candy!
I came across this blog post a couple days ago and found it so entertaining I just had to post! Apparently, according to this blogger, it is near impossible to become a Finnish citizen these days. After reading this post I felt compelled to do a little research of my own especially since Finnish citizenship might be in my own future down the road. Here is the link to the full article from Mary Nurimen from Savon Sanomat:
How to Apply for Finnish Citizenship – Kolumnit – Savon Sanomat:
Here is a little of my own research (please note that I am not an expert, I am just an American doing research on Finland and I encourage you to do your own research and not trust my opinions):
Finnish Immigration Service Quiz
First, you can check out this website which walks you through a quiz to see if you fulfill the requirements for migrating to Finland: http://www.uvi.fi/migratingtofinland/eng/
**Of note, I was not able to take this quiz because I have no family ties in Finland, no job, no school acceptance and really no reason to be considered a resident (I don’t think they would make me a citizen just yet..). You need to be a resident FIRST before you can apply to be a citizen, Mary noted this as well…oh boy…this will be a process for sure…at some point.
So, I did a little more searching. I found that “residence permit applications by foreign citizens increased in Finland by some 25 percent in January-April 2008 compared to the corresponding period in 2007.” This includes just over 6,000 resident applications. Chances are if you send in your application today you shouldn’t plan to move in the next few weeks…
You can migrate to Finland (i.e. establish residency) in many ways. You can study abroad (depending on age and status you can apply for citizenship after studying abroad in Finland), Work, or have family ties.
Something interesting about family ties I want to mention while reading through the Finland immigration services website FAQ’s:
I have been dating a foreigner (non-EU citizen or equivalent person) for almost a year. We lived together for three months when I visited her home country during my holidays. Can she acquire a residence permit in Finland on the basis of family ties?
Cohabiting partners are required to live together in the same household under marriage-like circumstances for at least two years. Secondly, if the individuals are registered in and have their domicile in different states, taking turns to cohabit during tourist holidays in each other’s home country is not considered cohabitation under marriage-like circumstances.
My wife is a foreign national (non-EU citizen or equivalent person), I am a Finnish citizen. Last year I became unemployed. Can my wife acquire a residence permit in Finland even if I am unable to support her?
Your wife (a family member of a Finnish citizen living in Finland) will be granted a residence permit even though her means of support in Finland are not secured by your work or other income.
So…this is quite interesting. Would like to find out more about how they track the two year cohabitation an does that cohabitation have to be in Finland or anywhere in the world? I always thought you would have to get married to become a resident in a spouse or partner’s home country, this does not seem to be the case in Finland unless I’m misreading it.
“The granting of a residence permit usually requires that the foreigner’s income is secure. The objective of the income requirement is that foreigners living in Finland are able to support themselves economically by their own means.”
What does this mean exactly?
Well, for an adult you are required to secure $900 a month or $10,800 a year. A student will need to secure $500 a month or $6,000 a year. For additional income requirements you can read more here
Well, I think that is it for my own research for now, if you can even really call it that. Go to the Finnish Immigration Service website and READ, READ, READ. Lots of good information. Anyone, especially an American that has gone through this process, please provide any information you have…how difficult was the process?
So I found myself a little bored today so I decided to piece together some footage I took just roaming to and from the city. In the span of four hours we watched the sun rise and set- it was great though- first time it came out in a few days and was just absolutely beautiful reflecting off of the white frosted trees.
I threw in a little audio as well because I decided to get a little creative. Sorry about the choppiness- didn’t want to put in TOO much time Great views of downtown Rovaniemi though. Check out the new lights they put in on the main street next to the city (they change colors though I’m not sure if you can see them changing in this video. ENJOY (and thanks to U2 for supplying the audio track
So, it occurred to me that there are people who might travel from the U.S. to Finland to visit friends, family or to just look around. I thought of a few things that you might want to consider bringing as gifts if you want to make an impression (notice I did not say good because depending on the people, this list might not be conclusive or accurate- bring at your own risk These are just what I have come to know from my experiences.
For the mid 20s to 30s young adults and couples we like to bring things that they can’t get in Finland:
- Alcohol in the form of American wines or even our American beers such as Budlight (for a conversation piece) or stronger varieties and local brews
- Coffee (we usually bring Starbucks but not everyone is a fan- stick with the lighter roasts and be aware if you are visiting people who aren’t too keen on mass marketing products and chains…such as Starbucks)
- T-shirts, sweatshirts, etc. of American local sports teams if they are fans. If they are into American football or you are a college student at a widely known university, grab a T-shirt with your school name and colors. Many younger adults (even older adults) love to wear that stuff because it is just different (My boyfriend’s family has TONS of Mizzou and KC Chiefs stuff and will soon have lots of Minnesota stuff as well
For adults/older people:
- Similar items but a greater emphasis on wine or alcohol. Finns are complete drunks or anything but it is no secret that they like to drink and wine for most is always appreciated
- Coffee…again, same rules apply (coffee country)
- Art books with pictures etc. of architecture or landscapes from the states- something original and different like coffee table books. We have brought my boyfriends parents books on the St. Louis Arch- built by a Finn but also the city I was born so there is that personal connection. We all like to look at great pictures of great places so play with those ideas
For children: One word- CANDY (never fails!)
- Lotions or pretty candles
- Chocolate or sweets made in one of your favorite places that you want to share (something Finns like but also something about you and where you come from)
- My boyfriend’s mother loves Bath and Body Works so I never leave home without at least one bottle of lotion (usually whatever the new scent is!)
- Sweets or foods/recipes to give or make them- though keep in mind you won’t be able to find all ingredients. We ALWAYS bring pancake mix to make fluffy pancakes- they don’t have them. Finns make a version of pancakes (more like griddle cakes) but they aren’t like walking into iHop. Great for a snack or dessert- don’t forget the syrup!