Sunday, March 20, 2011

Touring Finland

Helsinki, 2 degrees

Yeah, finally we have hit plus degrees! We can start talking about spring!

This week I spent four days on the Finnish roads, visiting Turku, Tampere and Mikkeli. People always make fun of me since I'm such a urban girl, so when I heard about the possibility to go on a roadtrip and represent Helsinki, I jumped at it straight away. During summer time we get a lot of questions concerning whole Finland; about our favorite Finnish cities and what they have to offer so I really needed to update my knowledge of other Finnish cities!

Usually I visit Turku once or twice a year. My family has a summer cottage close by to Turku, and my parents spent their childhood in Parainen, a place about 16 km from Turku. Therefore Turku and its archipelago is quite familiar to me. I remember going to Turku during summertime for some shopping or to the cinema as a child.

Turku is the 5th largest city in Finland after Helsinki, Espoo, Tampere and Vantaa. Having a river running through it, it is built in a different way than Helsinki and is a great summer city. After Helsinki, of course hehe.

Source: Wikimedia

Tampere on the other hand is less familiar to me, I hadn't visited it since 2007 when I went there with my school class so I was excited about going there through work this time.

Tampere is mostly known for its beautiful setting (in the lakeland area) and industrial history and has a lot of red brick factory buildings, now turned into restaurants and cafés. It also has the largest adventure park in Finland, Särkänniemi.

Source: YLE

Mikkeli has always been unfamiliar to me. Located also in the lakeland area, but a four-hour-drive from Tampere, it is known for it's beautiful natural setting but due to its small size (around 48 000 inhabitants) I had visited Mikkeli only once before.

Source: Savon Sanomat

Suoma2011, the tour I participated in, is a marketing tour where different cities and companies working in the tourism field can introduce themselves to clubs and organisations as a destionation for groups, as well as to secretaries and assistants looking for meeting and conference rooms and venues.

Helsinki being the largest city of Finland and Finland's capital, hehe, it has a lot to offer this year with the launch of a new website "Porukalla Helsinkiin" ,made especially for groups. My job was basically selling Helsinki to groups and secretaries; handing out brochures, pens, bags, postcards, mint pastilles and stuffed Helppi figures.

All the three tour days started with a hotel buffet breakfast, unpacking and putting the stand in order, followed by the actual fair between 10 am. and 12 am. After that we had a lunch break of one hour, and continued in the afternoon from 1 pm to 3 pm. When the fair event was over, we immediately packed our brochures and the other promotional material we had and took the bus to the next city. There we had the evening to spend as we wanted. Seeing as we arrived to Turku at six o'clock, Tampere at seven thirty and Mikkeli eight o'clock in the evening, there wasn't much time to spend in the cities. One could say that I only had dinner in each city.

The hotels differed quite a lot among each other. In Turku we stayed at Radisson Blu Marina Palace Hotel, which was excellent concerning the room and the breakfast.

Source: Radisson Blu

Unfortunately the service at the hotel restaurant can not be recommended since we

a) waited for our food orders for one hour
b) waited for an additional hour for the check

Can you believe it??!! Thank God we got a free round of limoncello drinks afterwards, as a thank you for all the waiting. Still, I must say it left a lasting impression in my mind.

Tampere's hotel choice was the Holiday Inn Tampere Hotel. I loved the fact that I had a spacious room and a huge toilet! What I didn't love was the poor breakfast and the fact that the hotel bar closed at eleven o'clock already!

Source: Holiday Inn

Tampere impressed us in other ways though. The Tourist Information Office of Tampere, GoTampere, had organised an evening in a local restaurant. The restaurant was newly opened, only 9 days before when we got the opportunity to get acquainted with it! The restaurant was called Stefan's Steakhouse and known due to the fact that the famous Topchef finalist Stefan Richter is one of its founders.

Stefan's Steakhouse has been furnished and decorated in a traditional way but with a fresh and modern approach. The indoor area can seat roughly a hundred guests, and in the summer when the terrace is open, the number of seating is doubled. As you may have figured by the name, steaks are the main article here. As an example, the house special: Wagyu beef filet, Kobe-style. In other words, you will be feasting on the finest beef in the world produced by specially bred and fed cattle. The restaurant also serves free-range, grain-fed Clare Valley Gold Premium beef from Australia.

Source: Toni Liimatta

We got to try a plate with different starters, all from mozzarella-tomato salad to salad with egg and bacon on it. We even had some main courses to try on, both fish and meat. With red wine of course! Delicious!

Best of all was the fact that we were introduced to the restaurant chain's history by the company's sales manager, but even the head chef came to talk to us so we really got a good impression of the place. In the setting of the beautiful red brick factory building, we were all sold.

The last stop before returning home was Mikkeli, where we stayed at the Cumulus Hotel Mikkeli. At this point, we were all so tired from touring and being on the road that we were just happy to lay down on any bed. The hotel's interior wasn't really of my liking but I liked the buffet breakfast, restaurant services and the candy we got on our pillows.

Source: Cumulus Hotels

Needless to say that I missed home. Already the first day, I felt I missed my special someone. Nevertheless, I knew why I went on the tour; to make contacts and get to know some tourism field colleagues. With that mission in mind, the trip turned out to be very successful. I got a lot of new friends and good contacts for my career and I enjoyed myself. I noticed though during the last day that I started saying even to our customers that I missed Helsinki. Great promotion, huh?

I also noticed walking on Friday morning on one of our main shopping streets how proud of a Helsinkian I truly am. I noticed that here people actually look at you, and I am always amazed of how forward-thinking, evolving and international Helsinki truly is.
Saturday, March 12, 2011

Feather wave

Helsinki, -4 degrees

These last weeks Hollywood has been talking about the new hair trend of spring 2011: feather hair extensions! They're lovely!

Source: ContraGirl

The hair extensions with feathers in different color seem to be sold by Fine Featherheads, which is causing the trendsetters of this hair style to be called featherheads. I've seen that the price for these extensions seem to vary between 20-30 dollars, so only about 23€! But unfortunately one can only order them in sets of five which makes it way more expensive. When will we get them to Helsinki????

The trendsetters that started it all were:

Jennifer Love Hewitt
Source: X17

Source: HollywoodLife


Hilary Duff
Source: Sheknows

What do you think about them?

Social media

Helsinki, -3 degrees

Source: Free Optical Illusions

BDP part 2

Helsinki, -3 degrees

Sunny serene Saturday in Helsinki. Time to continue my recap of my birthday.
Have you guessed my pamper treats number three and four? Here we go.

Since my regular hairdresser at A.k.a Luova was busy until the end of March, I decided to try a new hairdresser for my 25th birthday. Making this kind of a decision just days before your birthday might turn out a disaster, so I was slightly worried about my judgement. I decided to try the new hairdresser at beauty parlor Dahlia, just in the heart of Helsinki, on Aleksanterinkatu, the busiest shopping street we have. I had been there once before, but at that time it belonged to another hairdresser chain. Now as Dahlia, the interior and personnel had somewhat changed. Anyway, I was ready for the exciting experience.

Once I told my hairdresser that I wanted to get rid of my dark haircolor and try getting blonder towards the summer, I was happy to notice that she took it as a challenge, not at all as a conundrum. I ended up spending five and a half hours in the parlor. Two cups of coffee and biscuits later, I found myself free of my dark haircolor. I have no less than four different haircolors now! The wonderful hairdresser showed true signs of innovative thinking when she colored my hair darker underneath, and lighter on top using three different kinds of highlights. The outcome: a new me ready for spring, and a start for the hair I want for this summer!

I thought I would go even blonder for this summer! Once you start to go blond, you can not get stuck. You have to be bold and try new things, and this is definately something new for me!

The fourth and lets say last surprise for myself concerning my birthday, was going to the launch of Marimerkko's Converse shoes! The launch just happened to be the day before my birthday, and only a couple of blocks from my work place! At the newly opened Marikulma, the Mari corner in Finnish, it was crowded but I managed to get in just in time for the launch. The shop assistants had put a Marimekko sheet on the shoe boxes and at precisely five o'clock, she shoes were revealed! There was mostly women in the shop, but some men as well, and everybody basically jumped over the shoes, in order to get just the pair they wanted!

I actually decided on what pair to buy only in the queue! How's that for all of you saying that I can not be spontaneous, hehe? I decided on a pair of Pikkusuomu, small scales (like on fish), in Finnish. They're black and white, with pink on the inside. They have two laces, black and pink ones. Even though they were quite expensive, 105€, I decided that these were pieces of design, and for once I wanted to have a pair of my own. Now I can not wait to use them on the Helsinkian streets! What do you think?

Back to my birthday..I must say a big thank you to all my friends who joined the party! I had a wonderful time. My last birthday parties have all had one thing in common: mixed acquaintance circles. I know people from my childhood, adulthood, through work and my sister. People that have Swedish, Finnish, English and even other languages as mother tongue. That's why I am always nervous about how they are going to turn out, if everybody will start talking to each other and so on. This year I tried to uplift the atmosphere by having a little game during the party.

Source: The perpetual party planner

Everybody had to write down on a little piece of paper a detail about themselves that nobody in the room knew about. The detail was not allowed to be visible to others like haircolor, showing piercings or tattoos and so on. Then at a certain point, the notes were mixed and handed out and everybody had to find the person that had written the note one got. One was allowed to make five questions, without using the words on the note, to figure out if one had found the right person. The game turned out to be a success and I believe that everyone enjoyed it. It really forced in a positive sense everybody to talk to all the people at the party. Have you ever played similar games at a party?
Friday, March 11, 2011

BDP part 1

Helsinki, +-0 degrees

Birthday. A day that occurs every year but somehow you're never really prepared for it. This year was no exception.

This year, I thought I started planning my BDP (birthday party) early enough. About one month prior to my birthday, I started looking for interesting venue places for my birthday party. Looking through the Facebook page of a magazine about Helsinki called We are Helsinki a new place caught my eye.

It was called Lotus Lounge and located right in the center of Helsinki, on Mikonkatu street. I immediately contacted the place and soon we (me and <3) were already on our way to check out the venue. The place seemed nice. It was located on the second floor of a restaurant, and the whole lounge had a oriental feel to it. There was lots of pillows and cushions as well as sofas and divans there. I heard that I could rent a cabinet for my party so I decided to do so. I also reserved some food (mint meatballs, wasabi and other spicy nuts and a vegetarian alternative). The place would be mine between seven and eleven o'clock, with a deejay arriving at nine. Perfect.

Once I had my birthday party venue set, I could concentrate on myself, hehe. A girl can not turn 25 years old and not pamper herself! So I came up with three, actually four things to make my birthday the best ever! I've had my nails done now every month for almost half a year now, so I did that. I have preferred a simple French manicure because I believe it looks the most professional and the nails save me time when I do not have to think about doing my nails every day like I did before. They're also strong so they can endure lifting boxes and other things I do at work.

My saloon Blue Lagoon has felt almost like my second home for some time now, thanks to its wonderful personnel, but for my birthday I thought I would try something new, lash extensions. The treatment took about one and a half hour but I was very satisfied. I haven't decided yet if I will keep the lashes, but I can not say that I haven't got used to them.

A client at work, an Austrian lady, actually took a picture of me some days ago. I thought that she wanted the picture of me because
a) I was working at the tourist office
b) I'm a Finn
c) she liked me
but actually I found out that the reason was my lashes! She said she'd never seen lashes that long, hahahahah. I thought I was on the candid camera show, hahahah.

To be continued..
Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Helsinki, -3 degrees

Yey, Natalie Portman won the Oscar! For once, my favorite was also the Academy's favorite. You can read my previous blog post about the Oscars here.

Even though I hoped for Natalie to go home with an Oscar, I must say that on the red carpet there was another dress that caught my eye.Mila Kunis is Elie Saab's lavender dress was just stunning! I love lace and folds!I would maybe have preferred it in this summer color - coral that is, but lavender suited Mila very well.


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