Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sitting on a branch of the Tree of Life

Helsinki, 14 degrees

On Sunday I saw a movie I've been waiting for to see for at least half a year! I think it comes as no surprise to you that the reason for my interest in this movie is yes, you guessed it, no other than the amazing Brad Pitt. For a long time now, as far as I can remember, he's been my all time favorite actor number one. And maybe this time he has really done it! I expect him to receive at least an Oscar nomination for this movie, even though I wish this time that he would go home with an Oscar in his hand. He definately deserves it!

This movie has some incredible music in it! I think one of the best ways to relive the emotions a movie has given you, is to listen to the soundtrack of a movie. Thank you Alexandre Desplat for this ferris wheel of emotions.

To get you in the mood, here's the trailer of the movie:

Brad Pitt's newest movie is called "the Tree of Life" and it has been up for debate ever since it came out. And I must say that it's not like all the other movies. It is a movie that stands out and stikes you. You'll definately remember it thanks to its unusual form.

The movie itself is divided in three parts;
1) one follows the life of a Texas family with three sons in the 50's;
2) one of the oldest son in adult age;
3) and then the movie has a reflecting artistic abstract part as well.

I think everybody would agree with me when I say that the part telling about the family is the leading story in the movie. A family of five persons where all of the family members have a significant role.

Source: IMDB

A mother raised in convent. Housewife. So innocent and kind. Lovely red hair. Freckles. Beautiful dresses (I of course loved the dresses). Loving and devoted to her children. Laughing. Smiling. Believes children are raised with grace. Inable to get truly angry.

Source: IMDB

A father working in a factory. An inventer. A man who works hard for his family and wants to succeed. Somebody who wants to become "a big man", somebody of importance. Strict but also loving. Vunerable. Strong facial features. Demands respect. Traveller. Loves his children. Creates fear in his sons.

Source: IMDB

The sons each have role as well. I'm not going to spoil it for you by telling the plot of the movie but I'm just going to say that the eldest son has the strongest role of the three sons. He is the rebel who wants to fight against his parents and though he wouldn't want to, he sees similarities in himself with his father.

The son in middle plays a significant role as well in the movie, but I'm not going to tell you how.

The youngest son in the movie is the least described, but maybe that in a sense tells something about how it feels to be the youngest in a family. Maybe there's always the chance that the youngest out of three get the least attention.

Source: IMDB

The part of the movie where we follow one of the sons, the oldest one, as an adult is strongly connected to the one potraying the family life. He struggles with his past in a modern world where he is placed in a urban surrounding, a beautiful contrast to the countryside life he has lived in as a child. The urban surrounding is in the movie showed as a hectic reality where people live and work everyday without anybody noticing what is really on their mind. Even though I thought this part of the movie wasn't as good as the one telling about the family, I liked it nevertheless. Having a big star like Sean Penn playing it, it made a stronger impact on me. When a man of that calibre is truly lost and seeks himself, it forced you to think about your own life.

Source: IMDB

Besides Sean Pean, the movie has an incredible cast! All the actors were well picked!

The movie has many themes; being misunderstood is one, jealousy another one. Loss is a big one. Love is the biggest one in my opinion.

I think the movie tells a different story to everyone. Since there is a quite long reflecting part in the movie where we watch natural phenomenons like space, vulcano eruptions, dinosaurs and nature in general, everyone reflects upon it in a different way I think. In that sense the movie relies on its audience. I noticed that depending on one's personal life, one understands the characters in different ways as well as the movie doesn't give you answers, but arouses questions.

I've heard that some have thought that the abstract part is too long and that some even have left the cinema due to it. I found it very theatrical and portentous. At some points it might have felt too long, but then again, I cannot imagine it to have been shorter. Since the movie discusses loss, I think it is only natural that the movie takes you back to the beginning of time and shows you some natural wonders. After all, after we lose somebody, don't we all wonder what is the meaning of life? Where do we come from and so on?

I recommend the movie since it potrays a realistic view on family life where nobody is perfect but all the family members bring something to the table. A family is showed in this movie as a unit, where all members are needed to make it complete.

Source: OnlineMovieShut

The movie also had a lot of symbols in it, the most evident of course being the Tree of Life. I like the idea of a many-branched tree that illustrats the idea that all life on earth is related.

I definately need to buy this movie and watch it many times. I left the movie theater with memories of children laughing, such a nice feeling.

My favorite quote in the movie is one of the leading thoughts of the whole movie: "Unless you love, your life will flash by."
Monday, August 29, 2011

Developing maritime Helsinki

Helsinki, 18 degrees

In tourism, seasons mean everything. There is a huge difference in services available, prices, personnel and atmosphere when it comes to different seasons. I don't think it comes as a surprise to any of you that Helsinki's tourism is highly dependent on seasons, especially the summer season. Even though one might think that a capital city like Helsinki would already have gained enough interest to have an equal amount of visitors throughout the year, unfortunately people still tend to think that our winters are too cold and arrive mostly in summertime. Fortunately this doesn't mean that our tourism "dies" in wintertime, but it surely reduces! No one can deny the weight  of the cruise visitors Helsinki has on Helsinki's tourism, this summer they'll amount to a stunning 370 000!

Source: Metrolic

Since the summers nowadays are so hectic in downtown Helsinki, I usually recommend spring or autumn in Helsinki, just because it's easier at those time to get around and see things of interest. Now in August for instance it's impossible to walk in the Esplanade park since it's too crowded. Yesterday I took my boyfriend on a boat sightseeing cruise of Helsinki, and noticed that the South Harbor area was very crowded as well. We managed to get seats on the boat only thanks to the fact that we were there about 20 minutes before departure. I've been on the boat sightseeing tours many times, but I think it's something nice to redo at least once every summer. Helsinki is after all beautiful also seen from the sea.

 Source: Strömma

At my workplace, the season change is visible in our visitor amount of course but also because our personnel changes. During summertime we have about 10 summer employees that leave us in the fall. Since I myself have worked as a summer worker, I tend to relate very much with them and every year I feel sad about them leaving. Nothing ever lasts forever, isn't that how the saying goes? I know, but it's always been hard for me to say goodbye, so I rather say "see you around".

The ones that know me really well, know that I have sometimes in my past even avoided goodbyes, just because I hate them so much. I'm very happy with our summer workers this year. Some of them really had an impact on me, and made my summer as good as it was. Isn't that something great to say about one's colleagues? I wish them all the best and hope to see them again. I personally have promised to remember all the feedback they gave about our office so that I can for my own half try to develope our workplace and make it even better for next summer.

Last Tuesday we went to Suomenlinna on a workplace health promotion day. Suomenlinna is one of the main attractions here in Helsinki, a island complex which has worked as a fortress during our Swedish days. Nowadays it's a UNESCO world heritage site of course. The interesting fact of last Tuesday is that I heard two new interesting things.

 Source: SuPS

The first one was that they're building a gunboat on Suomenlinna as we speak. This gunboat is based on the drawings and plans of naval architect F.H. af Chapman and equipped with sails and 15 pairs of oars with two men per oar. The length of the hull is 68 feet.

Source: YLE

The main aims of the shipbuilding project are to employ and instruct young people, maintain and revive skills for building tradiational wooden ships and liven up the history of the maritime fortress of the islands. The gunboat will be launched in spring 2013. At that time it will also take visitors around the Suomenlinna islands and in that sense enrich the service supply for visitors there. Yet again, another way to make Helsinki even more attractive as a destination. When I saw the boat being build, I instantly thought about the Vikings but even though this is not going to be a Viking boat, it's still going to be breathtaking.

At the same time I also heard about some future plans of the Helsinkian archipelago. As some of you might know, Helsinki has about 315 islands in front of her. Until now though, it has only been possible to visit these islands one by one. There have not been any kind of island hopping tours in Helsinki. Now finally there are plans for this kind of tours, yey! This would mean a more circulate route among the islands instead of the one we have right now.

Source: Google maps

Suomenlinna has also initiated some negotiations concerning the fact that Suomenlinna could be united with two other islands called Vallisaari and Kuninkaansaari, located close by to the Seafortress Island. Together these two islands are bigger than whole Suomenlinna, which would been that if it would be possible to connect them, Suomenlinna would be turned into a larger island concept and be seen as a whole day destination. Right now Suomenlinna is considered a half day destination.

Isn't all this new information exciting?
Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Seven years in Helsinki (of waiting to see Dalai Lama)

Helsinki, 17 degrees

In senior high school when I had a course of history where we had a chance to study a non European country, I made a choice that with time came to change my way of looking at the world. I chose to study Tibet. In order to write this short essay, I did a lot of research which opened my eyes for the situation in that region. Ever since that moment, I've wanted to see the Dalai Lama. It only took seven years for my dream to come true!

It seems I missed him the last time he came to Finland due to the fact that I was at the time in Italy. I went during my time in Italy though to a photo exhibition discussing the situation in Tibet.

Now last Saturday I finally had to chance to see him in our neighboring city Espoo.

 Source: WriteSpirit

Dalai Lama was somewhat what I had expected. From all the texts I've read about him and all the images I've seen of him, I've always had a very sympathetic picture of him. It couldn't prepare me though for the reality: he just exuded wisdom and kindness. I've never seen a more good-hearted 76-year-old. A true teacher of life. During the one and a half hour that I heard him speak, he chose to not speak of politics but focuse on the philosophy he believes in. He laughed many times, and had the most heart warming laughter.

 Source: Amazon

I've wondered many times why I became so fascinated with this region in 2004. I guess the huge contrast between the hectic urban life I lead and the slow traditional rural life that I comprehended that the Tibetan buddhists have stroke me at that time. In the end we all seek inner peace, right? I think it is always impressing when somebody has reached happiness and harmony.

I think the fact that Dalai Lama has endured so many difficulties and still can manage to speak in front of thousands of people with a convincing smile upon his face is worth everybody's respect. Hopefully I will one day have the chance to come in contact with the Tibetan culture by vising the region and walk in the footsteps of my as good as namesake Heinrich Harrer.

Barefoot running shoes - the next big thing?

Helsinki, 17 degrees

Am I the only one who has noticed that barefoot running shoes have appeared on the street scene of Helsinki? I have now spotted these shoes twice on the tram, and they really catch your eye since they're so particular and differ very much from ordinary shoes as you can see on the picture.

 Source: EveryJoe

It seems that proponents of the barefoot movement argue that barefoot running is healthier for feet and reduces risk of chronic injuries, e.g. notably repetitive stress injuries. This due to the impact of heel striking in padded running shoes.

As many Finns, I have spent my childhood summers in the countryside and got used to walking around barefoot. I actually belong to the people who hate socks and tend to lose them all the time. I think I would love these shoes even though right now I still haven't got passed their appearence. But maybe it's like with Crocs shoes, once you get used to how they look, they don't look as strange anymore. What do you think?

Are you familiar with this kind of running? Share your thoughts!
Monday, August 22, 2011

Ballerina heaven!

Helsinki, 13 degrees.

Rain. On my window. Ballerinas. On my mind.

Came across these ballerians on Char and the city. They made the rain feel kind of nice. My favorite is number nr 3 on the left side, the black ones with the puff on the toes. Yours?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Colorful like an autumn leaf!

Helsinki, 20 degrees

As autumn approaches us and catalogues and magazines are filled with fashion hints and ideas concerning autumn trends, I would like to take this chance to introduce my personal favorites. This autumn, I have chosen two favorite colors: red and mustard yellow. The latter I like to call tiger yellow. I love the fact that this autumn we have lots of colors to work with, so one can truly choose the one that feels right.

I dream about a street view where Helsinkians would look as colorful as the autumn leaves!

Something I have considered a holy book for years already is the season catalogue of H&M. This season one of my favorite colors is already decorating the cover. Yesterday I wore the exact same pants as in the picture for the first time to work and already got some very nice compliments. Yey. I was happy.
I have earlier purchased a pair of red pants from Zara as well so pantwise I'm set for this autumn. I actually bought the red pants from Finland's version of Ebay so they were second hand pants but still in excellent shape and just in time for the trendiest time! Who ever said that one couldn't find trendy clothing as second hand? THEY WERE WRONG!

Besides the pants, I have also got the same colored bag, the one in the middle. I like to have a whole ensemble when I go for a specific color. I have a red bag from before, I bought it on Ebay, it's a fake Hermes Birkin.
Here in Helsinki seeing as we don't care about labels, it doesn't matter - as long as one's style is complete.

Everybody that knows me, knows that I love ballerinas. So I had to get them in mustard yellow as well. I already have black, red, violet, marine blue and dark blue ballerinas from before.

Some of you might remember that I dreamt of this cape jacket already in springtime when H&M launched some prephotos of their autumn collection. Now I finally got it! It's superb, and I even got the hat! Can't wait for windy weather. In the whole H&M catalogue it was evident that hats are in even this autumn, so finally it's not just something for summertime.

Nice enough I got some trend magazines on the same day as I received my H&M package by mail. Going through these magazines, I found some signs of a pattern. The same items I had reacted to in the H&M catalogue, could also be found in the magazines. They come staight from the catwalk to chain shops which makes it possible for everyone to follow trends.

Source: Elle Finland

In Elle (the Finnish version) one could see that strong bold colors are this autumn's "it-factor". Even though I love ultramarine, I feel this season I want to try red and yellow since I've never dared to use them this boldly before.

 Source: Elle Finland
Source: Trendi

Bagwise this season it's all briefcases and portfolios. I recently bought a black one as well from H&M so now I have the yellow and black portfolio bags and then I think the Birkin fits in quite nice as well, don't you think?

Source: Olivia

In Olivia magazine I even found my new cape jacket. As the text says on the magazine page:
"Ready to fly! A cape needs long gloves and fits best together with pants."

Sum summarum: my autumn wardrobe is now complete. Let's hit the Helsinkian streets and brighten up autumn with some color!
Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Business trip: Turku, Finland

Helsinki, 18 degrees

To continue the recitation of last week, I wanted to dedicate one blog insert to describe my experiences in Turku last week. All the Tourist Offices in Finland belong to a association that put up standards for the Finnish Official Tourist Offices. This association, called Suoma ry, organized last week a two-day-long summer event in Turku for all official Tourist Organizations in Finland. Turku was chosen as the location due to the fact that the city this year functions as the Cultural Capital of Europe.

So this girl took a two-hour-long train ride to Turku and spent the night there at Hotel Scandic Julia.

The two days in Turku were filled with program for us visitors which I found exciting since I've visited Turku many times but never as a so-called tourist. Now I got to see the city from a visitor's point of view. We got to experience a river cruise, see an amazing circus performance, eat at great restaurants and visit the exhibitions center Logomo created for this year's theme year.

This doesn't mean that the visit was purely for pleasure, we did actually have seminars and meetings as well. The whole idea behind the mother organization is to create opportunities where the Finnish Tourist Offices can come together, inspire each other and motivate new ideas in the working environment.

I thought it was very interesting to listen to e.g. Turku's and Tampere's tourist offices when they told about different marketing campaigns they've had. Turku has launched a new campaign called "Kiss my Turku" where they try to provoke people and invite visitors to comment and be interactive with the tourist office. Turku uses famous town residents of the city to give ideas about the favorite places in Turku of these wellknown people. Tampere on the other hand has launched a new brand idea of called "Tampere-all bright" which doesn't merely talk about the city's tourism but it is a much larger concept that talks about the vivid and perky spirit of the city and its inhabitants.


Both cities gave me ideas about how one can promote a city. In addition, we got to hear a presentation by the art director of Hasan&Partners, a marketing company based in Helsinki. This presentation gave me a lot as well, as it awoke some thoughts about our Helsinkian office. I liked the fact that the presenter used practical examples like Apple, Nike, Old Spice and Rom chocolate bar to point out to us how one can create a brand and maintain it. I especially liked the part when he talked about the fact that a brand stands for a behavior, not claims. "Brands are created in the mind of recipients and therefore only the audience can truly own them."

The question is how to develop Helsinki and its brand by using the knowledge I have now gained about brands..ideas?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Scissors snobs!

Helsinki, 18 degrees

Let's catch up some on my last week. I spent last Monday getting to know the Fiskars Village, located one hour from Helsinki towards west. The idea about going to this former ironworks was initially of two of my colleagues and seeing as I have such a great working place, it turned out that five of us spent a working Monday on a roadtrip to Fiskars and we had a blast!

Fiskars is such an idyllic place, close to Helsinki, but still in the middle of the green nature and very tranquil.

There is a great panorama engine on the Fiskars website where you can have a virtual tour of the place. I highly recommend it if you can't make it to this cute city!

Even though the area is known for being the former ironworks who created the famous orange handle Finnish scissors, nowadays it works as a center for Finnish art and design seeing as more than a hundred creative professionals live in this area. The original Fiskars Ironworks have an interesting history though seeing as it was founded in 1649 by Peter Thorwöste, when Queen Christina of Sweden granted the Dutch businessman a privilege to manufacture cast iron and forged products.
Some even call us Finns scissors snobs because we tend to think that the only scissors in the world are made by Fiskars.
Do you know the scissors?

Today, Fiskars Corporation is an international company whose operations are consumer-centered and grow through strong specialist brands. Fiskars' consumer products for the home, garden, and outdoors are renowned for their functionality and cutting-edge design. The Group's core brands are Fiskars, Iittala, Gerber, Silva, and Buster. The associated company Wärtsilä Corporation is also an important part of the Corporation.

We spent the day getting to know the conference facilities on the premises, the exhibitions halls, handcraft shops and of course the restaurants and cafés in Fiskars. I especially liked the local chocolate shop called Petris Chocolate Room. I had to bring something home since they had even heart shaped boxes with delicious chili, raspberry and cognac chocolate pralines.

Could you deny these?

How can a work day get better than this?
Friday, August 12, 2011

The green heart of the city

Helsinki, 17 degrees

On a rainy day like this one, it's good to remember the beautiful summer we've had here in Helsinki this year!

Here is one of my favorite places in Helsinki; the Töölönlahti Bay just five minutes from our apartment building!

Recently I've added this area to my description of Helsinki as one of Helsinki's must sees. In the area there is, besides one of our most beautiful modern buildings, the Finlandia Hall with Italian marble, even the Opera house. Since last summer there is even a small café kiosk next to the Bay, and this year it's going to have campfire evenings with folk music and sausage grilling just next to the Bay. It takes about 30 minutes to walk around the Bay and that is what we (me and my better half) do quite often. Opposite the Opera house, up on a hill, there are some stunning pastel colored buildings made out of tree. These are rare in Helsinki, and one of them functions as a summer café.

Soon next to the Finlandia Hall there will be a new café coming up as well, which makes them three! Yey! And that one will be not merely open during summertime, but throughout the year!

The Bay is also such an active place; during summertime, people hang out in the parks around it and play games like petanque or enlarged chess. There is even some free Thai Chi and Yoga in the Bay park areas. What's better than that? What is your favorite part of your city?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Me like Manna

Source: Alfitude

New artist obsession! Born in Paris to a Finnish mother and Algerian father, Manna resides in the Finnish capital of Helsinki, where she’s been crafting an experimental and hauntingly beautiful sound. ‘Lead Me’, out on 14th September 2011, is the debut track from album Shackles, carries a mixture of heavy grooves, beautiful melodies and haunting yet equally uplifting vocals.

Listen to her new song on her Facebook site!

A comeback

Helsinki, 20 degrees

While taking a break from the blog, distant noices kept on calling me back again. So here I am, ready for writing again. This summer, as many of you surely know, has been rough on me. The loss of a close person made it necessary for me to take some time for myself. Things like that make you think about what's the meaning of it this all. Life. My conclusion is that even though we might not know exactly one hundred percent why we are set on this earth, we should definately make the most of it. Love gets us through it even during the most difficult of times.

 Source: Allposters.com

This summer has been one of the warmest: July was said to be one of the hottest in 50 years. I of course have spent this summer like so many others - at work. My work is what I love though, so it works out quite perfectly, doesn't it?

Source: Deviantart

I had the opportunity this summer to try new things like meeting journalists coming to Helsinki for making newspaper stories. I found that fun, since the result of one's job was so evident later in the articles in the papers. It's been interesting to see how the process goes; from giving an interview to reading it in the papers.

My passion has for a long time, ever since I was a young girl of age 19, been Italy so when I got the chance to meet up with some Italian journalists, I was more than exited. The experience turned out to be though not really what I had in mind. I learned that journalists are here for a reason, they are very result driven and have a clear goal in mind. They are therefore not here to chit-chat, but to make a story. One should think long before saying something in the name of one's workplace, since it might end up the next day in the paper.

Source: Research for Development

But it had been fun to see the final result of the stories and interviews I've given to the media this summer. I think I will start to collect the stories and make them into a scrapbook for my future children.

I've also had the possibility to get to know Helsinki's new tourism products for this year. Since we got elected the design capital of the world next year, it has been noticable how many new design related products we have had this year. It's been nice to explore these new design related tours and go to new design areas in Helsinki like the Design District Helsinki itself but also Vallila and Arabia.

 Source: Design District Helsinki

One fun design piece of news in Helsinki has been the Marikahvila, a newcomer on the café scene in Helsinki, born through the co-operation between coffee house Strindberg and interior world and fashion house Marimekko. I went to this café with a good friend and I was delighted about the beautiful setting. More of this!

Even though this summer has been wonderful with hot days and long days (we have sunlight now until 10pm), I look forward to this autumn as well! Autumn always means in a sense more serious work and new experiences. I have been thinking about a new haircut, new clothes, maybe moving with my loved one, new challenges at work...exciting! What are your autumn planes?