2 days in Paris

Ranska - 29.6.2018 16:25

I was positively surprised! I had never visited Paris before, neither other big cities in general, but Paris I really liked for the two days we spent there. I think I prefer it over London as well. I was surprised how much space there was in the city, big parks and squares, lots of places to sit down and people-watch. There was so much life, we just enjoyed sitting outside on a café terrace and seeing what was going around. Or we could take a seat in one of the beautiful parks and sit by a fountain. In the era of hypermarkets, I enjoyed the numerous little stores everywhere. And there was a lot of art on display as well.

Going to Paris was convenient, just a one hour train ride from Brussels. I was impressed by the smooth train ride even in 300km/h! Trains are a great way of transportation, but there are often strikes as well, which makes it a bit unreliable, at least when comparing to Finland or Switzerland. We were lucky since the strike in France was a day after our trip and the strike in Belgium was two days after we came back.

My wife had made an excellent itinerary for our 2-day-visit. At first we went up to Sacré Coeur, which is a beautiful church on top of a hill. We went all the way up to the dome of the church, from where we could see the whole city, including the Eiffel tower. One thing that made it such a memorable time was also the weather, which was sunny and hot both days.

From Sacré Coeur we continued to the artsy market place of Place du Tertre at Montmart, where many artist make and display their work. We had our first Paris café experience at the Deux Moulins café, known from the French movie Amélie. We moved around Paris by foot and metro. During the 2 days we walked more than 50,000 steps!

After the coffee we took a metro to Concorde, from where we walked to see Champs-Elysées and the Arc of Triumph. The symmetric straight line from the Arc continues all the way to the Louvre, and walking to Louvre we went through Garden of Tuileries, which had nice fountains and lots of green areas. We didn’t go into Louvre because of the large crowds, but it looked nice from the outside as well. However, in the garden of Tuileries we went into the Claude Monet (Orangerie) museum, which was interesting and didn’t take too long, just less than an hour, and didn’t have so many visitors.

Our next stop was at Notre Dame, but we didn’t go in because of the long queue. We continued to walk around and had a nice coffee at Odette, nearby Notre Dame. Some of the tips for our visit were from our colleagues at Medair who had either lived or visited Paris before. We managed to see a lot and avoid losing time in big tourist crowds. From Notre Dame we walked along the river to the Lovers’ Bridge. The bridge used to be filled with locks, completely, but for some reason the locks had been removed (maybe it became too heavy!) and the bridge sides were made from glass now so it wasn’t possible to put locks on it anymore. But it was a nice place to look at the river and the river boats. The island on which the Notre Dame is located also looked nice from the bridge, as the two rivers that went around it became one again.

We continued to another park, called the Garden of Luxembourg, in which the Palace of Luxembourg, now the meeting place for the French Senate, is located. It was beautiful, big and open, and many people were jogging around the garden, sun-bathing on the benches or playing with small boats in the fountain. Then we headed to Trocadero to watch the sunset on the Eiffel tower. It was a great view from Trocadero to see the tower, and a beautiful park in itself too with big fountains. We went to eat in a nearby restaurant, L’italien, that was on a small street. There were only locals at the restaurant and even us they asked if we lived in the suburb (since they hadn’t seen us before I guess). It was nice practicing our French with the friendly waiter. The food and service was excellent, and not too pricey. After eating well, we went back to Trocadero to watch the light show at Eiffel tower, which is every hour at night. Very romantic…

The next day we had solely reserved for visiting Versailles. Deb had been a couple of times in Paris already before, but she had never visited the palace. It was well worth the visit, although it took the whole day. We were lucky that we had booked tickets online beforehand and arrived a bit before they opened at 9am, since the queues soon became very long. We were told some wait even 3 or 4 hours to get in. We were lucky to be one of the first ones to enter and got nice pictures of the palace without too much crowds. It’s an amazing place, and hard to believe that one guy and his family would have owned something like that..! The interior of the palace is lavish, very detailed, and it’s huge: 2,300 rooms! The art inside is like in the Vatican museum! There are also a couple of more buildings which were for other members of the family, guards and so on, and even those are impressive. And all the land and roads that connects everything together is vast! The garden of Versailles is impressive with its fine cut grass, plants, statues and numerous fountains. It’s really an unbelievable place, and makes me think if there is anyone nowadays that could have such an impressive empire. No wonder the French people didn’t like how their tax money was used to support the lifestyle of their king, and thus the French robbed most of the palace in the French Revolution. For example, the throne of the king is not there anymore..

We came back to Paris, rested our feet, and enjoyed some more people-watching at the cafés. Then soon we were back in Belgium.

I would consider visiting Paris again, perhaps during a different season next time!

At the top of Sacré Coeur View of Paris from Sacré Coeur Sacré Coeur Café  Face twister candy! Champs-Elysées Louvre Notre Dame  At Odette Jardin de Luxembourg  Paris, baby!  à L'italien  Versailles Versailles Hall of Mirrors Resting feet at Versailles Thalys bullet train Brussels - Paris

Greetings from Belgium

Belgia, Ranska - 22.6.2018 16:27

Where the beer is strong and the chocolate is dark. There were bras hanging from the window. In black, yellow, and red. We are in Belgium! It’s the football World Cup, and you can see it on the streets. Lots of houses have put something with the country’s colors out on display.

We are staying here with Deb’s parents. Enjoying the good life of not having to worry about cooking or cleaning. So far the time here has been filled with many administrative tasks in the bank and seeing the doctor and dentist. It’s becoming the ultimate health check. Firstly, because Switzerland health care has been too expensive, and secondly because we are going to live in the wild starting from September. Yes, we have just signed the contract with Medair to work in the Democratic Republic of Congo! It’s very exciting and we are looking forward to the mission.

I was able to visit Brussels for the first time when we met there with my friend Joonas who is working in the Finnish Embassy for the summer. I really like the city, its old buildings, historical and beautiful monuments and lively streets. Of course, great beer everywhere as well. I’ve taken a challenge to try as many different beers here as I can. But I think I have to come again, since there are more than 3,000 of them.

We went to Atomium, which is a landmark in the area. It was built for the ’58 World Expo that was held in Brussels. It’s an impressive structure, and must have felt like something from the future when it was built. 40 Million people came to visit it in the World Expo.

Belgium was a significant battle ground in the First World War. We learned more about it in the World War museum in Ypres, which was destroyed but then rebuilt after the war. Just to be bombed again in the Second World War. That’s hard to understand. How come people allow such destruction and suffering, especially so soon after the First World War, which would not have been forgotten about by then. We watched the remembrance ceremony in Ypres, held by the British every day at 8pm. I was surprised by the amount of people, there were busloads of them. We also visited another memoire in a park, where they have built a touching monument for the 600,000 people who died in the area. On our way to Dunkirk we also stopped at a remarkable cemetery at Tyne, where 12,000 soldiers were buried. I was impressed and happy to see that those killed in the war are being honored in such a way. I don’t really know if we have something similar in Finland regarding our war with Russia.. museums and monuments, I mean. My experience and understanding of the war became more concrete after this visit, and it will be interesting to visit the Second World War museum in Pearl Harbor!

We still have more than a week here before we head out to Thailand. We are going to meet with more friends, try more beers, watch more football, and even visit Paris, which will be the first visit for me in the French capital! Right now, I’m looking forward to going to the movies tonight, and throwing a wedding party tomorrow for the friends and family from Belgium who were not able to attend our wedding in Switzerland!

Welcome lunch in Leuven with Marieta and Jeff Be welcome to BrusselsAtomium Looking for MagritteGood! The famous monument of Brussels - Manneken PissFor equality Dans la grande placeHandsome guy. Joonas looks good too ;) Artisanal beers in Delirium Cafe with Joonas Lunch in Ypres  Memorial for the 600,000 killed in Belgium during WWI Bluff perspectives One evening in Ypres Mmm... mussels, they were so fresh, so delicious! Trying out the Ypres rally podium Memorial for those in Tyne  World War II, Dunkirk Just like in the movie England was still too far a swim

Still alive

”Long time no nothing” – texted my friend the other day. True, it’s been long since I was in touch with my friends, in Finland. The same applies for this travel blog. It’s been a long time since I updated you, my reader. So, I decided to start fresh, and this time in English. I hope you’re happy, especially Heather and Peter, if you’re reading this!

There’s no way I’m going to catch up with everything that’s happened since my last posting. Actually, last time I really wanted to write was about my trip to Swaziland over Christmas, but I’ve been engaged in other activities and a new relationship. Mostly my time has been traveling, less writing. My girlfriend keeps a journal, and we keep a common journal, too. I know I enjoy writing, just sometimes it’s difficul to start, however, I should do it. It also helps keep track of life. Now that I haven’t been writing I feel that time has passed so quickly and I’ve forgotten about many wonderful memories. Writing is also a helpful means of processing my thoughs.

I’m in a plane right now, on our way from Finland to Switzerland. The second visit to Finland this year. We’ve just been to my cousin’s wedding and spent a couple of days at the summer cottage swimming and saunaing (?) a lot. So beautiful, so relaxing, the Finnish summer. It was great seeing family from far away at the wedding. There was family from Sudan, Australia, East Europe, us from Switzerland and many from Finland. It was the fifth wedding in less than four months! I really liked my cousin’s get-a-way-car. It was a decorated truck! And at the back it had buckets and containers bouncing and drumming instead of cans and bottles.

Life in Switzerland has been treating me well. I’ve discovered new parts of the country, some good new hiking as well. A few friends have visited and it’s been really nice to be able to show them around. The country has a lot to offer! So I’m gradually feeling more integrated again. Yet, I’m still not speaking French. I’ve got some good training materials and trying to study the language regularly. My excuse is that I’m not forced to speak French. Everywhere I can get by in English. Well, I just managed to arrange the selling of my bed in French. Yes, actually I’m moving next weekend to live by myself! Préverenges has treated us well, and I’ll miss the lake and short commute to work, yet I’m looking forward to the freedom of having my own place. I got the place through my girlfriend, as her friend is moving away temporarily.

Other news is that I’m finally traveling to the field. I’ll be going to Lebanon in mid-August. Will be great to be back in the field, and I’m sure there’s a lot for me to learn about finance work in the field at Medair. Whilst in Finland, we met briefly with my previous boss from Cambodia; it inspired us both! So, hopefully at some point we’d be living in the field again.

Two weeks ago we did a road trip through Switzerland-Austria-Germany-Belgium-Netherlands-Luxembourg-France. We went to a wedding in Germany. On the way there we stopped on an island at lake Constance, called Lindau. Very nice, I would recommend visiting it if possible. The wedding in Germany was in Ulm, and it was my girlfriend’s friend who got married. It was one of the best weddings I’ve ever been to. Doves, castle setting, fun!, unlimited drinks, good food, dance, photos, and a private brunch the next morning! Other highlights of the trip were cycling in Amsterdam, driving on the Autobahn, enjoying the sun and the sea in Oostende, the grande train station, jewels and square donuts of Antwerp, family time in Hasselt, and the night in Strasbourg!

Yeah, otherwise this year we’ve been to the Lake Como area in Italy (Italy is always nice!), stayed there in a spa hotel, which we have very fond memories of, then going to France to ski with some friends from Finland, my first trip to the UK, as we spent a long weekend in London/Oxford, and visiting Finland and Belgium once before as well. We’ve already booked our next trip to the Philippines, which will be our long break this year, two weeks in November. And as said before, I’ve discovered plenty in Switzerland this year too! Just the eastern part of the country is still unexplored. However, I’ll be going to visit my friend from Hong Kong in St Gallen in a couple of weeks, which is near the Appenzeller region in the North-East.

Anyhow, just to say that I’m still alive and doing well. I’ll be posting more about travels and life in Switzerland again!

Climbing rocks at the farm in Swaziland I found a beautiful girl by a beautiful lake <3 Skiing in Schwarzsee Exploring Mer de Glace in Chamonix Milano! Crazy fun in Oxford Husky safari in Lapland We were so lucky to even see the northern lights! In a football tournament with the refugees Dent de Vaulion at the Jura mountains Belgian beer in Bruges Mount Pilate, and the church that was on the edge, really Hiking near Valence in France On the first via ferrata in Champery  Paragliding in Annecy Visitors from across the sea. Enjoying the wine festival in Vaud :) Hiking in Leysin Me and Deb as the apero team in Mike and Deb's wedding! Swimming on the way to Grammont Biking in Le Tour Hiking Dents du Midi, 10hrs, 3200m! Uncle-Peter from Oz Basking at Lake Geneva Such great fun wedding in Ulm! I amsterdam Square donuts in Antwerp Idyllic Strasbourg Finnish Summer

Kesän viimeiset vieraat

Ranska, Sveitsi - 2.10.2016 22:45

Vai syksyn ensimmäiset?

Sain esitellä Sveitsin ihmeitä äidilleni ja siskolleni, kun he tulivat kylään syyskuun puolivälissä. Viime vuoden lämpimän syksyn perusteella ajattelin, että syyskuu on vielä hyvä ja lämmin aika tulla käymään Sveitsissä. Ja niin se oli tänäkin vuonna muutamaa sadepäivää lukuunottamatta. Jotka sattuivat osumaan juuri heidän visiittinsä aikaan. Sveitsi jätti siis kauneimman puolensa pilvien varjoon, mutta keksimme kyllä paljon muuta vuorien sijaan.

Halusin esitellä perheelleni täkäläistä elämääni ja paikallista kulttuuria, mutta myös antaa aikaa vain yhdessäololle, ja ehkä siihen sateinen sää olikin hyvä. Kokkasimme yhdessä; valmistimme raclette -illallisen paikalliseen tapaan ja teimme myös suomalaista lakkakääretorttua, josta riitti iloa moneen hetkeen. Äiti toi Suomesta saakka lakat ja jopa sähkövatkaimen tortun tekoon. Ei ole meillä poikamieskämpässä paljoa välineitä leipomiseen, mutta hyvää ruokaa kyllä syömme. Sain Suomesta myös juustohöylän, Eloveenan puuropusseja ja ruisleipää, sekä brändi-pähkinäjuustoa, josta myös ranskalaiset kämppikseni olivat vakuuttuneita.

Äiti ja sisko pääsivät tutustumaan myös työpaikkaani, seurakuntaani ja ystäviini siellä. Sattuipa myös, että seurakuntaan oli astellut samana iltana uusi suomalainen vaihtariopiskelijakin, joten meillä suomalaisilla olikin yhtäkkiä hyvin kotoisa olo. Kävi ilmi, että opiskelin samassa yliopistossa ja kävin samassa seurakunnassa hänen kanssaan siitä tietämättä, ja nyt tapasimme täällä.

Vaikka päivät olivat pilvisiä, niin ei täysin sateisia kuitenkaan, joten näimme kauniit viiniterassit, jotka ovat UNESCOn maailmanperintökohde. Kävimme tutustumassa myös suklaan valmistukseen ja ihmeelliseen maailmaan Caillerin suklaatehtaalla. Näimme Luzernin vanhan kaupungin ja Interlakenin turkoosit järvet. Kävimme myös kuumien lähteiden kylpylässä sumuisten vuorten ympäröimänä. Ja tietysti söimme juustofondueta perinteikkäässä hirsimökissä. Lopulta jopa sää selkeni niin, että viimeinen päivä saatiin viettää aurinkoisessa Chamonixissa Ranskassa. Äidin ja siskon toive nähdä lumihuippuisia vuoria toteutui, kun nousimme hissillä Aiguille du Midin huipulle 3800 metrin korkeuteen Mount Blancin komistamiin maisemiin.

Lavaux viinitilat Luzern, Sveitsi Luzern, Sveitsi A La Maison Cailler Paiju Chamonix, Ranska Aiguille du Midi, 3800m Mount Blanc

I kvartaali 2016

Italia, Ranska, Sveitsi - 24.4.2016 22:44

Ja sitä ollaankin siirrytty jo kesäaikaan sitten viime päivityksen!

Aika tuntuu olevan kuin liukas saippua, joka ei meinaa millään pysyä käsissä. Kuusi kuukautta on toki suhteellisen lyhyt vielä, mutta silti tuntuu käsittämättömältä, että olen asunut täällä jo puoli vuotta. Asettuminen on tosiaan vienyt aikansa, mutta nyt vihdoin tuntuu siltä, että elämä Sveitsissä alkaa saada jotain raameja. On löytynyt mukava asunto ja kivat kämppikset rauhalliselta alueelta Genevejärven rannikolta ja työpaikan läheisyydestä. Työmatka taittuu pyöräillen viinitilojen kautta, tai sateisina päivinä autolla. Hankin elämäni ensimmäisen auton, joka valloitti sydämeni saman tien. Tilava Audi A4 farkku nelivedolla kuskaa minut ja maastopyöräni tarvittaessa vaikka suoraan pyöräreittien lähtöviivalle. Oma auto on helpottanut liikkumista valtavasti, tuonut vapautta ja auttanut asettumaan kodiksi. On se toiminut muuttoautona ystävillekin, ja töissäkin sille on tullut käyttöä viimeksi tällä viikolla, kun kuskasin itseni ja työkaverini Jura vuorille Medairin ROC simulaatioon, jossa olin tällä kertaa mukana simulaatiotiimissä, kun viimeksi koin humanitaarisen työntekijän koulutusviikon osallistujan roolissa.

Vuoden ensimmäisen kvartaalin aikana luonani on käynyt myös ystäväni Suomesta, jonka kanssa kävimme laskettelemassa Villarsissa ja Verbierissä. Talveen mahtui useampi laskettelureissu, joista yksi suuntautui Titlikseen. Menimme sinne Lucernissa asuvan suomalaisen ystäväni kanssa. Nyt laskettelukausi alkaa olla minun osaltani paketissa ja on aika siirtyä maastopyöräilyn pariin. Kevät on täällä jo pitkällä, vaikka vielä tänään Ranskan Jura vuorilla Westlake seurakuntamme retriitissä satoikin aamulla lunta. Mutta kotikulmilla puut ovat jo vehreitä ja tulppaanit kukkivat kovasti. Söimme lounasta tällä viikolla työkavereiden kanssa järven rannalla ja aurinko lämmitteli jo oikein mukavasti, niin että minäkin pärjäsin t-paidassa.

Pari viikonloppua sitten menimme seurakuntakavereiden kanssa Italian kautta Luganoon, Sveitsin italialaiseen osaan. Matkalla ylitimme lumivuoria, jonka jälkeen laskeuduimme järven rannalle 20 asteen lämpöön. Olosuhteet voivat muuttua todella nopeasti näissä maisemissa. Tykkäsimme Luganosta kovasti. Parasta siinä oli mielestäni upeat maisemat, jotka muistuttivat hieman Norjan vuonoja.

Ehdottomasti yksi kevään kohokohdista on ollut kuitenkin pääsiäismatka Roomaan! Tapasin siellä katolisia ystäviäni Suomesta, joiden kanssa asuin Helsingissä ennen Sveitsiin muuttoa. Rooma oli upea, vielä etenkin pääsiäisenä. Vierailin useissa kirkoissa, joissa vietimme kauniita katolisia messuja. Se oli erityistä aikaa. Olimme UNIV nimisessä tapahtumassa, johon oli tullut opiskelijoita 54 eri maasta. Tapasin hienoja ihmisiä ja samalla opin tuntemaan Rooman lisäksi monia muita kulttuureja. Olin halunnut jo pitkään päästä mukaan tälle pääsiäismatkalle Roomaan ja vihdoin se onnistui! Olin myös hyvin iloinen saadessani viettää aikaa (ja syntymäpäiväni) yhdessä hyvien ystävieni kanssa.

Pian onkin kesälomien aika. Haluan lähteä käymään Suomessa. Sitä ennen kuitenkin ensi viikonlopuksi Barcelonaan äitiä ja siskoa tapaamaan, jota en ole nähnyt yli vuoteen! Töissä menee kaikki hyvin. On ollut aika rauhallista toistaiseksi. Ranskan kieli kehittyy pikkuhiljaa, mutta pitäisi skarpata vielä enemmän sen suhteen!

Vatikaani  Onnea Oskari, uusi pappimme! Santi ja Charles Gelato avec Lucas (BR) Lugano Westlake friendsTitlis Punaisen Ristin museo Genevessä Jeesusmusikaali työkavereiden kanssa Geneven autonäyttely kämppiksen kanssa Laskettelua Verbierissä Laskettelua Chamonixssa

Mont Blanc pisti polvilleen, mutta ei jättänyt kylmäksi

Ranska - 2.11.2014 21:55

Siitä alkaa olla kulunut jo pian kaksi kuukautta. Minua kehotettiin kirjoittamaan ennen kuin unohtaisin, miltä se tuntui. Mutta miten saattaisin unohtaa… en koskaan unohtaisi tuota voimallista, kokonaisvaltaista kokemusta, sitä euforisen hyvänolon ja uupumuksen sekoittamaa tunnetta. Se oli ensimmäinen kertani lumihuippuisella vuorella. Tuntui kuin elämän ja kuoleman taistelulta, sellaiselta 32-tuntiselta. Mutta ennen kaikkea tunsin eläväni! Lue lisää …

Kallio- ja jääkiipeilyä Alpeilla

Ranska - 21:41

2. päivä – Vallorcine (1300m)

Ensimmäinen kalliokiipeilypäivämme Ranskassa. Tavoitteenamme oli harjoitella useamman köyden pituisia ”multi-pitch” reittejä ja totutella pikku hiljaa korkeuksiin, niin kallioseinällä kuin ilmanalan osaltakin. Lue lisää …

Kiipeilyreissu Alpeille alkaa

Ranska - 15.9.2014 13:10

Ystäväni Ruut ehdotti minulle alkuvuodesta hurjaa ideaa lähteä valloittamaan Mont Blanc. Meillä olisi kokenut kiipeilijä mukanamme, joten edessä olisi ainutlaatuinen tilaisuus päästä kokemaan jotain unohtumatonta. Vaikka tiesin itseni kokemattomaksi vuori- tai edes ulkokiipeilijäksi, ja ajatukset lumivyörystä, vuoristotaudista sekä korkeista paikoista pelottivat, niin halusin lähteä mukaan! Tämä olisi tilaisuus kokeilla rajojani ja voittaa pelkoni, tehdä jotain mitä muistella ylpeänä uskalluksestaan. Lue lisää …

Miniloma Rivieralla

Ranska, Yleistä - 29.8.2014 17:07

Edellinen viesti ei sitten jäänytkään kirjan viimeiseksi toisaalta siksi, etten saanut julkaisutyötä ajoissa valmiiksi ja toisaalta siksi, että uusia matkasuunnitelmiakin ehti jo kehittyä.

Minulla oli lähes koko toukokuu lomaa ennen uuden työni aloittamista Uudessakaupungissa, joten amerikkalainen ystäväni Renee toivoi minun tulevan kyläilemään luokseen San Franciscoon. En tosin koskaan ole ollut kovin kiinnostunut matkustamaan Amerikkaan, mutta ehkä vielä jonain päivänä tulen käymään Reneen luona San Franciscossa. Sen sijaan olin kiinnostunut toukokuussa järjestettävästä kehitysyhteistyön intensiivikurssista Keuruun Iso Kirja –opistolla. Ilmoittauduin kurssille ja se oli hyödyllisempi kuin osasin odottaakaan! Sain lisää inspiraatiota lähteä KYT-hommiin ja osittain kurssin ansioista olenkin lähdössä keväällä 2015 Fidan kautta kehitysyhteistyöharjoitteluun, jota odotan jo kovasti! KYT-kurssin jälkeen lähdimme kuitenkin Reneen kanssa viikoksi Ranskan Rivieralle, Nizzaan! Lue lisää …

Alpit, osa III

Ranska, Saksa, Sveitsi - 29.7.2010 12:21

Lue lisää …