23 January 2009

the winter checklist

Contrary to popular misconception, winters in Turku aren't as cold as winters in other parts of Finland. The average temperature in January ranges from -10°C to 3°C, which, with the dry climate, often feels much warmer.

There is, however, a perennial mountain of snow. So, when in Finland, I do as anyone from a tropical country would do -- indulge myself shamelessly in the list of winter-y things to do!

perspective: 23 tammikuu 2009

the gregorius IX:n tie bus stop, where I catch the bus from my house
[halinen, turku, finland]

20 January 2009

great balls of fire!

I bought the entire IKEA Swedish meatball making kit.

Yes, I mean everything -- from the meatballs to the gravy to mashed potato to the jar of lingonberry jam that's probably enough for fifty meatball meals. I'm easily victimized by marketing like that. I went there to buy some things for my room, and ended up with a bag full of IKEA food. 

I can almost hear Florian's reaction in my head now: "Holy!" Florian says I do not cook anything except instant food. It's not that I don't have a choice -- I actually like cooking and am always willing to whip up a home-cooked meal. It's just that I am also one of those weird people who actually like instant food.

Anyway, back to the Swedish meatballs -- it's awesome.  I can't tell the difference between a k├Âttbullar and regular meatballs from around the world, but traditionally, the Swedish serve their meatballs with gravy, boiled (or mashed) potatoes, and lingonberry jam. Meatballs and jam -- sounds weird, right? Absolutely delicious!

I'm a convert.

I will never look at meatballs the same way again.

19 January 2009

perspective: 19 tammikuu 2009

the view from my bedroom window
[halinen, turku, finland]

14 January 2009

why i always get lost in finland

Because everything has such obscenely long names.

tuomiokirkkosilta bridge
[turku, finland]

underneath the snow

The snow melts away after several days of above-zero temperature.
[turku, finland]

13 January 2009

what does turku look like?

Turku, having existed since 1229, holds the title of oldest city in Finland. When I say I'm from Turku, most people react with ooohs and aaahs, expecting to see medieval streets and buildings and castles.

So what does Turku look like? Surprisingly, it's quite modern. Turku burned down several times in the past, so there are hardly any remnants of its medieval past. Most of the buildings in Turku are actually quite new. There are the occasional brick buildings which were built in the late 1800s or early 1900s, but the rest are modern concrete blocks that were probably built from the 1950s onwards.

Come take a walk with me down one of the streets in downtown Turku:

turun kauppahalli

Turku has a kauppatori (market square) and a kauppahalli (market hall) where you can buy meat, fish, fresh produce, and other local specialties. Having had a thing for markets since falling in love with Toronto's Kensington Market a couple of years ago, I found myself searching for the Turun Kauppahalli as soon as I could.

The Turun Kauppahalli (Turku Market Hall) is housed in a red brick building that dates back to 1896. According to Turku Tourism, there is only one shop (that used to sell seal fat) remaining that has operated throughout the lifetime of the kauppahalli. Nowadays, there is a wide assortment of businesses: bakeries, butchers, ethnic food stalls, souvenir shops, and restaurants. My favorites are the kauppamuseo which shows a typical shop from the old days, and the Aschan cafe housed in a converted train carriage.

*Turun Kauppahalli is located on Eerikinkatu 16, Turku, Finland.

09 January 2009


I totally love this short film from the Schweppes Short Film Festival...

I'm terrified, though, that my life is going to be like this once I start working here in Europe...

05 January 2009

perspective: 5 tammikuu 2009

There are so many pictures I have taken, so many things I want to write about.

But I don't have time.

A chat with Christian provided the answer: "Why don't you do a photoblog? Spend 10 minutes a day. Post a picture. Write one line. Done."

Brilliant idea.

And so, here goes the first of a series.

*Tammikuu is Finnish for January.

my first finnish word: kiitos (thank you)
[taken in a hesburger in halinen, turku, finland]

thoughts over a hamburger

A realization: living in France finally rid me of my fast-food addiction. For someone who used to eat burgers almost daily, I went four months straight in France without craving for a burger. I guess its because there are hardly any fastfood chains in France (or in Aix-en-Provence, at least) -- which proves I'm a visual eater? Out of sight, out of mind!

Anyway, Hesburger is the largest hamburger chain in Finland, and it's based in here in Turku. It's quite rare to see McDonalds here, but there's a Hesburger in almost every corner.

Good thing I don't have the unbearable cravings for burgers I used to have!

04 January 2009


That's welcome in Finnish.

Welcome to the land of a thousand lakes, reindeers, and the real Santa Claus -- Finland. Everything is covered in snow, it's surreal...

a snowy mist rises over halinen
[turku, finland]