Category Archives: travel

Winter vacations

travel

Since the last entry a couple of weeks ago, the main thing we did was traveling and seeing friends and family. We got some more visitors, Tero and Florian, showing them Munich and our life there. Then Annika went off to Finland to go on a Linnéa tour throughout the country presenting her to almost the whole family. I arrived there a bit later when my holiday started and we enjoyed a couple of really relaxing Christmas days with a lot of delicious food up in the north. The first and the last day of my trip there, we spent with some Nokia colleagues. Once back in Munich we drove with the car to Florence. On the way we stopped close to Bolzano to cut the trip into two halves making it more relaxing and giving us the opportunity to ski again after a long time. First Annika went skiing and I took care of our little one and then the other way around.

We spent a great New Years in Florence and enjoyed the sunshine every day, taking long walks and running along the river. Our main goal was to relax after the demanding year and so we did. On the way back we made again a short stop in a skiing resort and in Munich, before continuing the trip to my parents home, which we actually saw for the first time after the move. It’s wonderful and so much cosier than the old one. It was basically a family gathering and we enjoyed seeing them all in one place, even though one of the little ones of my sister had to stay in hospital for almost the whole time, which added some complications to the otherwise nice time there. Again from here congratulations to the 70. Birthday of my father, which we celebrated there. Now we are in the train on the way back from Berlin, where we participated at a surprise-party for the now-30-year-old Florian. The last trip of the busy month :)

Linnéa was all the time a perfect travel companion – OK, all the time but the 15 Minutes when she screamed entering the heavy traffic of Florence, adding some additional challenges to daddy driving the car :) I can just repeat myself – she is growing and developing so fast and getting cuter every day. It’s such a joy watching our little life-changer developing. Now she turns from the back on the stomach and likes it so much that she does it everywhere. Again more challenges for the diaper-changing daddy :) Now we try to add milk from the bottle and mashed carrots to her diet. But I would say that still takes some more practice. She doesn’t seem to like it that much and after me trying to teach her how to do it for 3 days in a row she didn’t even want to see me anymore at night, so Annika had to put her to bed, which was previously my part. But I stroke back with a charming-attack…and it seemed to work – until the next try :)

Photos

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Canada & USA

travel

It’s been some time since we started our summer vacations. The leaves are colored, the air crispy and the first snowflakes fell. So now it’s really time to put up some photos and to write down some experiences of the summer trip. First of all it was amazing. The nature, the cities and the company. We felt so welcome at everybody’s place. Special thanks to Bruce, who planned our stay in Vancouver so perfectly and who showed us so much we would have never seen, Solveig and her family who invited us to see the cowboy-life in Alberta and of course Sandy and Rahul & Madhu, who came twice to San Francisco and showed us wonderful places there! But let’s get started ;)

We started our trip on Friday morning here in Helsinki and arrived – thanks to the different time-zones – already on Friday evening a bit delayed in Vancouver, where we took over the smallest car they could offer us. They asked twice, if we were sure we wanted to travel with such a small car through the dangerous world of SUV:s and trucks. We were wondering what car to expect due to this description and at least I was a bit nervous if our backpacks would fit into a Smart or something similar. But at the end we found ourselves driving a Ford Fusion with 5 doors and a looooot of space in the trunk. The first experience of “wow-everything is big here”.

Now we could start our 13 hour drive, with a lot of Red Bull and speed over the Rockies to Nanton, South of Calgary during the night. After the sunrise we were already almost out of the mountains, but got a first glimpse of what to expect on our way back. The scenery was stunning, beautiful, almost beyond words. The roughness of the Rockies, the feeling of being so small compared to the rest, which we would experience quite a few times during the trip. At around 10 in the morning we arrived in the small town and were welcomed by Solveig and her kids. Mikki was still at work and we met him in the evening after spending some time with the family, getting a bit of sleep, going to the local farmers market and seeing the sights of Nanton, a museum of 2nd world-war planes and miniature trains. In the evening we had the chance to see a local amateur rodeo, which was extremely fun to watch. After that we knew that the Cowboy culture is still alive, up to a degree I never would have imagined before. Guys riding bulls and horses, wearing hats and big belt buckles and are as manly as you can see in every average western movie. They didn’t shoot at each other, though.

The weekend passed fast. We played a lot with the kids, feeling like kids again, saw a lot of the life and wonderful, wonderful nature there and could see how and where Solveig, Mikki and their kids live. It was so nice that they took us wherever they went – the church and a big BBQ party – so that we got a good impression of their everyday live. On Monday, really early in the morning, we went one time-zone back over the mountains to Vancouver, where Bruce picked us up at the car-rental. First some things about Vancouver. It’s one of the nicest cities you can visit. Especially the opposites make it so interesting. It has a big and impressive downtown – but it is not too big and feels almost cozy due to the beaches and the small restaurants. It’s really Canadian, you can see the flag everywhere – but at the same time it’s really multi-cultural, with a big diversity of food from almost every place in the world, and the 2nd biggest Chinatown. It’s a quite rich city, with big business, sky-scrapers and suites, wherever you look – but the closeness to the incredible nature, a lot of small breweries and Gastown as such makes it feel somehow down-to-earth. So all in all it is definitely worth a visit and you won’t regret it. Bruce managed to show us all that and to guide us through the labyrinth of diversity of opportunities. We had a fantastic week, saw down-town, went hiking on Whistler, had a 10k run one morning in the biggest park down-town, ate all-you-can-eat sushi (all-you-can-eat and sushi was a contradiction for me before that), did whitewater rafting, had a dinner close to the beach, when the sun set, had Chinese dim-sum in Chinatown, ate home-made food by his mother, which was sooooo delicious, went to a fish-market out of town, had really nice talks in fantastic places, met nice people and had funny parties, Annika could share nice teenage memories. All in all thanks a lot, Bruce, for an awesome week and the nice company!

Bruce drove us on Sunday down to Seattle, from where we started the third part of our vacations. On the way we stopped at a huge outlet, where especially Annika found some nice clothes. It was huge, but we got already used to the fact that everything is a bit bigger – from the coffee over the cars to the outlet! After Seattle Bruce drove back to Vancouver and we started our road-trip down the coast to San Francisco. But first we wanted to see a bit of Seattle, the city of Grey’s Anatomy :) In the airport, where we rented the car, we asked somebody about the possibilities to get into the city, besides the car. He said there is a train, but he had never used that thing. So now for everybody who is visiting Seattle, there is a train, built in 2009 which connects the airport with the city for just 2 dollars. Amazingly fast and comfortable! We visited a nice alternative city, where music and artists were everywhere, bought good stuff in a nice market. Even though we didn’t have much time, we got a good first impression.

After Seattle we started to drive southwards. We’d booked a campsite next to Mt. Rainier, where we wanted to start our trip with a hike in the mountains. So we did. The campsite was really spartan, but nicely placed next to a river. From there we drove up to the visitors center, early in the morning, where we got a coffee and more information about hike-trails. There was an infinite amount of them, so we first went on a short and easy panorama hike and then on a longer trail, where we saw nice waterfalls and had an incredible view on the Mt. Rainier. Partially in snow we had a nice day-hike in the sun before we continued our trip towards the coast in the late afternoon. The whole way was sunny until we saw the coast where a line of clouds was waiting for us, and which would be there almost until SFO, which we hadn’t known until then. We arrived north of Astoria, which had surprisingly many traces of Finnish immigrants. At 9 p.m. we wanted to eat something in the village, where the camping site was, but the only open restaurant was a bar, where the local alcoholics met and where we were asked for an ID to order fish ‘n’ chips. After hiking and a pretty long trip, we slept like babies.


The next day we went down the coast, mostly in cloudy weather, always seeing the sunshine in the east. We stopped in nice villages and used the hour of sunshine, laying at the beach and listening to the sea. The next night we spent in a national park with just dunes around us before we got to the next highlight of our vacations the following day: the Redwood Forests. This is a national park, where you can find the world’s highest trees and where some scenes of Star Wars were produced. Both a nice experience. When we arrived there we got to the local office and got a permit to camp on a free campsite a bit out of the city and then we went hiking through the forest. As in Mt. Rainier, first the tourist trail and then a longer one. It was just stunning, unbelievable, breath-taking. We felt so little next to those huge trees. And there were so many of them. Fantastic! The night in the “wild” brought me nightmares of bears, as the warning-signs were all over the place and a bear-box contained all our food. Scary! Dreamed of a newspaper-article, which stated that a Finn and a German were attacked by a bear. Subconscious panic, not shown to the outside :) But – we survived and followed the Highway 1 down to SFO. It was a loooong way with a lot of winding roads and quite demanding to drive, but a nice landscape made it worth to go there. We were relieved, when we drove over the Golden Gate and arrived at our hostel, which wasn’t the nicest one we could imagine, with fights during the nights between clients and service personnel, but anyway cozy as we just were there a couple of hours to sleep during the night.

After the night we went down to see Mountain View to visit Rahul, a colleague of mine and then to Santa Cruz, where Annika had her first surfing-experience. The night we spent in downtown SFO. There we saw nice live-music and had a funny night. The next day we saw the wineries north of SFO. As I drove, Annika did the wine tasting and me the cheese and olive oil tasting. A traffic jam destroyed the whole experience a bit, as we had to pay extra for our car, which we brought back too late. We ended the day with a nice dinner with Rahul and his wife Madhu in a special restaurant. We had to go to bed early, as we had the sight-seeing marathon at 5 a.m. in the morning. It started so early, so that they could open the Golden Gate Bridge again in the afternoon. It was a really nice run, and bands and people supported us well, even though it was soooo early in the morning. Despite the hills we made a really good time with 3:44. After that we started with a sight-seeing walk, and later on Rahul and Madhu joined in and told us more about the city and the people. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit their place. But they helped us a lot to pick out some wonderful places, we hadn’t seen before. After that, we met Sandy, Annika’s flat mate in Ecuador, and it was nice for me to see her, as I’ve heard so many stories! The next day we went home, where our trip continued – from Germany with the car to Finland! But this is another story. Now, some months later I remember so many good things about the trip and I’m happy that we got so much support. It was amazing, how many experiences we made and how much nature we saw. It was an awesome trip!

More Photos – Set I

More Photos – Set II

More Photos – Set III

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Weekend-trip Zurich – visiting Matthias

travel

We had planned this trip since a long time, the tickets booked since 2 months and the ash cloud wasn’t a topic anymore – so we went end of May to Zurich visiting Matthias and Claudi. We arrived on Friday in this wonderful cosy town surrounded by a lot of hills, next to a huge lake and the Alps in the background. The sun was shining, and Matthias awaited us at the airport. From there it took just 20 minutes to his flat, where we met Claudi, cooked and where we started the evening with good food and a wine at the table. After that we went out to some special bar, which is a public swimming pool during the day and turns into a bar during the night. When that closed we continued drinking beer and talking a lot. It was actually the first time that Matthias met (my wife (!) :)) Annika. So, lots of stuff to talk about.

After a good sleep we started the sigh-seeing in the really nice, small center of Zurich, before we took a train up to one of the hills around the city. The panorama was so wonderful. From there we hiked a couple of kilometers from one hill to another. The sun was shining, the colors so bright – simply impressive. We went down with a cable-car and after a beer-stop in a bar we took a boat back to the city where we ended the evening with delicious Mexican food. On Sunday we started relatively early to catch some bikes, which were free to rent for the whole day, but unfortunately we came too late and we were not the only ones having the idea :) We spentour day then at the lake. At the end of our stay we had to eat – of course – some cheese fondue. It was a great, really funny and relaxing weekend. We enjoyed it really a lot and are looking forward to repeat it in the winter :) It was nice to see Matthias & Claudi again and I’m looking so much forward to his visit in July!

Some more photos

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