Travel year 2014

January

Jordan – A dream coming true visiting the city of Petra and Wadi Rum desert

March

Attending ITB travel fair in Berlin, Germany

Day trip to Stockholm, Sweden

August

FINA World Masters Championships in French-speaking Montréal, Canada

Took the Staten Island Ferry and saw Statue of Liberty, NYC

October

Eating ice cream in historic Rome, Italy

November

Weekend trip to Tallinn, Estonia, and exploring the trendy Kalamaja district with wooden houses

It’s been a busy year. I’ve traveled quite a lot, but also pushed my studies forward, got married, made a bunch of new travel blogger friends and booked a trip to Japan for March 2015. Busy but rewarding year behind – and I’m looking forward to the next year with excitement. Remember that you can also follow my adventures on my other blog, Metallia Matkassa (though it’s written in Finnish).

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Finland’s Pristine Nature: Interesting Natural Attractions

When visiting Finland you should not miss our pristine, beautiful and diverse nature with its exquisite hiking destinations. This summer we wandered in the nature quite often and were lucky enough to visit some of the most interesting natural attractions. Finland has 38 national parks spread around the country, offering everything between short hour or two walks to 80 km hikes, but also plenty of natural formations for a shorter visit are available. Most of them even located near to bigger cities that travellers usually visit.

Astuvansalmi rock paintings, Ristiina (Eastern Finland)

One of the biggest rock painting sites in Nordic countries, Astuvansalmi is well preserved and mysteriously showing a part of our history. The oldest paintings in this site date all the way back to 2500-3000 BC. I remember visiting this site many times during my childhood and this summer after who knows how many years, I decided to go back. The site itself is quite easy to reach, during summer you can go there by boat as the paintings are located in a shore, or then hike there through a forest – which will take around 45 min to one hour, depending on how used you are to walking in the nature.

The rock paintings haven’t made it to UNESCO World Heritage list yet, even though they were submitted on the tentative list in 1990. Regardless, they are very impressive and should not be missed when visiting Saimaa lake district in Eastern Finland.

Can you see the elk?

Nuuksio National Park, Espoo (Southern Finland)

Located less than hour away from Helsinki centre and accessible by public transportation, Nuuksio National Park is easy choice for a daytrip – even though the national park offers a lot for a longer hikes too. It is popular among people living in the metropolitan area, who wish to escape the busy city life and enjoy a moment of silence in the nature.

The Finnish Nature Center Haltia is located in the borders of Nuuksio and also worth of a visit. Suitable for both kids and adults, it lets visitors experience nature from all over Finland under one roof. Haltia is also the first public building in Finland built entirely of wood.

Trails are usually well marked in Nuuksio

Sammallahdenmäki, Rauma (Western Finland)

Bronze age burial site of Sammallahdenmäki is another spectacular historic and natural attraction, which features more than 30 granite burial cairns. Burial site dates back to 1500-500 BC and can offer an excellent insight into the funerary practices and social and religious structures of northern Europe more than three millennia ago. Basically it’s just rocks lying around in a high place, probably placed so that deceased could be closer to their gods and the sky – I’m not an historian, so I don’t know the exact story behing these but needless to say, the burial sites are very impressive and interesting. Sammallahdenmäki is one of the seven UNESCO World Heritage sites we have in Finland and easy to combine with a visit to Rauma city, where you can find another UNESCO site, The Old Rauma.

Rocks and more rocks

This summer I got see plenty, but there is still so much more to explore in this, northern and extraordinary country of ours. Next summer I hopefully will get the chance to visit Lapland and do some hikes in national parks there. Finland is definitely a destination for nature lovers, and many of the sites are easy to reach from cities, which makes it possible to combine a trip to nature with city holiday.

Just one more thing about visiting Finnish countryside – the everyman’s right. It allows people of all nationalities to enjoy Finnish nature freely, acting respectfully towards the nature, properties and other people of course. You can check the rights and responsibilities within everyman’s right here.


 

Sources:

UNESCO WHC

Visit Mikkeli

Haltia

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Manhattan after dark

Heavy rain combined to numerous neon signs made Manhattan and Times Square look like an endless sea of lights, as the puddles of water mirrored colours spreading along the streets. Tourists strotting around Times Sq. were hiding under their umbrellas, trying to find a better shelter from the rain. We took advantage of the awful weather and put our camera ready for some great nighttime photos. I was holding an umbrella, trying to protect the camera while Markus was taking the photos. Finally, when the rain stopped and the streets looked even more beautiful – our camera decided to run out of battery. Maybe it was a sign, that not all moments are meant to be photographed.

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Second hand shopping in Williamsburg

Last month we were visiting NYC and stayed in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. One day we wanted to explore the neighbourhood and found a local second hand store – Le Point Value Thrift. I really like second hand shops and flea markets so this was a must-visit. I remember myself saying “let’s just check this out quickly”.. famous last words!

There was so much to explore! I hardly ever find any clothes as second hand because I am very petite, but there was a whole rack of size 2 and 4 shorts. I bought one pair. I also found 90’s Steve Madden shoes that were in really good condition – and also my size. Lucky me!

Markus too made some good findings and we left the store happy. Round the corner there was another second hand shop, except that there was a sign in front of the store saying “vintage clothing”. We entered and noticed that there was much similarity in the clothes with the previous store’s clothing. We were accompanied by older spanish speaking ladies in the first store, second one was full of young hipsters. Well, at least the prices were on the same level. Later we noticed that the clothing to both stores came probably from same truck behind the building – one store just was clever enough to call their clothing vintage – it seemed to bring more customers. I just found it a little funny.

If you are in Williamsburg and wish to buy some second hand clothing, check out this place – it’s on corner of Flushing Ave & Knickerbocker Ave. And there is another shop just round the corner.

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A day in Montreal

Couple of weeks ago I was visiting Montreal, Canada. FINA World Masters Championships brought us there, but we still had some time to explore the city a bit when not sitting by the pool, cheering our friends to compete. For me, Montreal felt very European city – mostly because the main language is French, I guess, but also the architecture reminded me of some European cities. Even though it’s a city of around 1,6 million people, it didn’t feel too big and was quite easy to explore on foot as well.

Here’s my tips for spending one day in Montreal!

1. Morning hike to Mont-Royal

You could spend all day wandering around the famous mountain (or hill, more likely), but if you just want to get a good look over the city hike up to Chalet du Royal. You can take a bus number 11 from Mont-Royal metro station and Chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges to reach the summit, but we were brave enough to walk all the way from Mont-Royal station and hike up the hill, climb 300 meters of stairs to reach the amazing view. If you have time and are fit enough, I suggest that instead of taking the bus.

2. Quick lunch before experiencing some culture

After you get down from Mont-Royal and find you way back to the centre, take a metro to Place des Arts and find your way inside the Complexe Desjardins. You could walk there from Mont-Royal too, but it requires some time – and if you are not very used to walking a lot, I suggest the metro. From Complexe Desjardins you will find a big food court where you can grab some reasonable priced lunch – and cool down in the air-conditioned mall after a sweaty hike.

3. Rest your mind viewing some modern art

The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal is located right next to Complexe Desjardins. Tickets are 14 Canadian dollars and 10 for students and there are plenty to see. At the time of my visit there was an exhibition about abstract art donated to the museum over the years, different video installations and this very interesting installation where “the heart rate of visitors, captured and transmitted by a computerized system, is turned into pulses of light in some 300 light bulbs suspended from the ceiling” (MACM, Pulse room 2014). I am not a big art person, but I felt that this museum and its exhibitions were rather easy to approach.

4. Vieux Montreal

The Old Town might seem a little boring for someone who comes from Europe, as there is an old town in pretty much every European city and once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. For others though this romantic, likable and very vibrant part of the city is not to miss. And I recommend it for Europeans too, as if you have travelled all the way to Montreal, there’s no point of skipping the old town. You’ll find plenty of restaurants, cafés and art galleries from there. It’s also quite photogenic. Don’t forget to try the famous poutine here – you will find Montreal Poutine, restaurant told to serve one of the best poutines in whole Montreal, from Rue St-Paul.

Remember to visit the Old Port, located next to Old Town, too. At the time of my visit, there was some kind of a gourmet food festival going on.

Walking around in the Old Town you will find your way to Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal, where it’s easy to head down Côte de la Place d’Armes and to Rue Saint-Urbain where you will find Montreal’s Chinatown.

5. Dinner in China Town

I have to say that I ate some of the best chinese food I’ve ever had during my stay in Montreal. There are two restaurants I can recommend – Basilic offering dishes from Hong Kong and then restaurand called Noodle Factory. The latter seemed to be quite popular and get a little crowded during dinner time, but service was friendly and fast and the delicious food didn’t leave you hungry. One dish was well enough for two persons.

Montreal is a very diverse city, offering plenty of things to see and something for everyone. I enjoyed my stay there very much!

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