Archive for the ‘Helsinki Honeymoon – Chapter 1’ Category

15.08.10 – There was no avoiding it, I knew the trip to Paris was going to fly by and it did. It was raining so we decided to head to the Musée D’Orsay, the train station turned impressionism museum. Unfortunately, so did the rest of France. We didn’t have much time anyhow because Emma and I were flying out at 1530.

We decided to have a nice meal at a restaurant Kim was familiar with in the neighborhood. I went way French ordering Steak Tartare. The staff kept double checking with me making sure I knew what I was ordering, which I did, kind of. I knew it would be raw but I didn’t expect to get so much. It looked like a raw whopper. The waiter told me if I finished it, I would be a true Parisian. Well, that’s a club I’ll have to join some other time. Everyone took a taste and I tried my best to finish my meal but there’s only so much tartar I can take. Seriously, I couldn’t figure a cooked burger that size.

My sister Kim was the perfect host, always making sure the apartment was stocked with great food, we were never at a lack for entertainment and was the perfect guide for Paris. It was also great to spend time with my sister Cici and my niece Nicole. I will travel with all of you again and again.

I would like to say Emma and I enjoyed a peaceful trip home but we didn’t. I don’t want to go into it here but it was… a nightmare. Enough said on that subject although it made it much easier to feel so glad I was home 😉

Note! If you would like to see some more pictures, click here to view a slide show of some of the other shots from our trip.

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14.08.10 – Wow, a full day in Paris and we definitely made the rounds. Kim and I started off the day heading to the Cimetière Du Père-Lachaise which is within walking distance from the apartment we’re staying at on Rue De Charonne. Maybe you’ve heard of the cemetery? It’s the one with Jim Morrisson buried in it. We had a quiet, solitary walk thru graves dating back to the 1800s on over 109 acres but it wasn’t long before we felt like we were in the Amazing Race as we ran into 2, then 5 and then 10 people asking the same question, “Where is Jim Morrison’s grave?” By group effort we found it 😉

Kim and I regrouped with Emma, Nicole and Cici and quickly came up with a plan for the day, Eiffel Tower to Arc de Triumphe to Champs-Elysées to Musée d’Orsay. Ambitious, non? The plan looked good on paper because the distance was a bit long but there were great spots to stop all along the way but I forgot I was travelling with 4 “girls.” We made good progress from the Eiffel Tower to the Arc de Triumph but once we hit the Champs-Elysées things ground to a halt. I assumed the role of pack mule as I waited outside stores with more and more bags as the girls shopped. At one point I considered calling in Police Nationale and when Kim went to pay, use a bullhorn to call in “Kim, step away from the card, we have the place surrounded!” Everyone had a great time, even Kim who picked up gifts for everyone. Emma and Nicole scored big time.

I headed back to the apartment with a load of purchases to drop off and then made my way back to the girls. I decided to do some shopping myself. I was looking for 2 iPads, one for me and Max, and I found them the day before but I couldn’t use my card because it wasn’t a Euro version with a chip. Kim headed over earlier to try her Amex but had to revert to cash and could only get one. I headed over to the Mac Store at the Louvre which was a mile or two away, yet another plan that looked good on paper. It took almost an hour to get to the neighborhood and that was the easy part. I almost gave up because I needed to be back in less than 30 minutes and I still hadn’t found the Carrousel du Louvre, the shopping center the Apple Store was in. With less than 15 minutes left, I found it, walked in the store and picked up number two iPad! The Metro was right outside the Carrousel so I made it back and I was only a couple of minutes late 😉

Needless to say, we all slept well.

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13.08.10 – We had a great first day in Paris. I spent the early part of the day trying to navigate the transit in Paris to get to the Charles De Gaulle Airport to meet Cici and Nicole. I made a couple of wrong turns, basically I was on the wrong side of the tracks, wound up getting to the airport a bit late but luckily so was their flight so I ended up getting to the terminal five minutes before they walked out 😉

We took a cab to Kim’s place, which is about 30 minute ride, spent a little time catching up, eating some fresh mango, kiwi and peaches and then headed out to buy Emma a camera (thanks Aunt Kim!).

The best part of the day followed, we headed to a neighborhood Kim thought Emma and Nicole would like called Marais. There are a couple of blocks of hip clothing and shoe stores. There’s also some odds and end stores like cool bead shops. We made our way to a cafe for coffee and tea just before it started to rain, which lasted just long enough for us to finish our drinks. At the end of the block was a beautiful church called Église Saint Paul Saint Louis where mass was being held in French, so we made our way there to sit and meditate.

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12.08.10 – The Esplinade, Helsinki’s Bond Street or Fifth Avenue, is probably one of the most popular places to hang out in Helsinki for locals and tourists alike. There are actually two sides, North and South, with a boulevard like park in between. People come to picnic, shop, meet friends, layout in the sun, but I was there to do a little shopping. I was looking for a birthday gift for someone whose birthday is just around the corner (hint, hint Kim!) Some of the nicest and most popular shops are on The Esplinade. Stockman’s, Helsinki’s most popular department store is around the corner, Louis Vuitton, and my two favorites, Marimekko and Iittala. I’m not one for shopping, but I love color and both Marimekko and Iittala are bursting with color. Luckily, as I always do when I’m forced to shop, I found what I needed in 10 minutes and then it was off to Ben & Jerry’s for the kids, a coffee for me and hour in the grass watching life stroll by.

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11.08.10 – I’m diving deeper into photography apps for the iPhone. Up until now I’ve only been using Hipstamatic but I recently downloaded CameraBag, PictureShow and Lo-mob. CameraBag is my favorite so far because of the simple interface and just the right amount of options. CameraBag lets you use the iPhone camera to take a new shot or choose an existing file from the Photo Library. Once you have the image you can select between 8 camera sims; i.e. Helga, Lomo, Colorcross, plastic. Next would be PictureShow which is more of a touch up and effects type app. PictureShow allows you to change the image frame, adjust color and add effects like light leak, noise, blur. Lo-mob hasn’t really grabbed my attention like the others. Lo-mob cost as much as CameraBag and PictureShow together yet lacks the features of the two combined. Hindsight, I wouldn’t have bought Lo-mob, although $1.99 won’t set you back too far, I’m just having way to much fun with CameraBag and PictureShow. Expect to see more of these two in future posts.

Also worth mentioning, there are some killer groups on Flickr for each of these apps as well as iPhone and toy photography. Here are a couple that I belong to;

Hipstamatic Portraits Onlyhttp://www.flickr.com/groups/1411380@N23/

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10.08.10 – Emma and I decided to rent bikes today and we ended up at a popular spot in Helsinki, the cemetary. The weather was a bit overcast and windy so the beach was out of the question and Emma has been interested in using my Canon SLR so Hietaniemi Cemetary was a great choice. Most of the tombstones are dated between the 1800 and mid 1900. Some of the most popular Finns are buried there, Field Marshall Mannerheim and Alvar Aalto to name a few. The cemetary is located next to the ever popular Hietaniemi Beach which is known for it’s nightlife as well as the largest beach in Helsinki. Apparently there are “nightly parties, flirting, petting, and more, are recurrent concerns in letters to the editor alarmed by alleged dishonourable conduct at the gravestones.”

Emma shot some really cool pictures too. I’ll post them later.

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09.08.10 – And yet, another museum. Believe it or not, I didn’t want this blog to turn into a sightseeing extravaganza but so be it. Hopefully I’ll get to a point where it’s less museums and more interesting musings like the wild nightlife, steamy saunas and Scandi women. For now, let me introduce The National Museum of Finland 😉

Follow Finland’s history from the Stone Age to present time. I was wowed the minute I walked in the door because the museums entrance hall has a beautiful frescoes about the Kalevala, Finland’s book and epic poems compiling Finnish folklore. Weapons, jewelry, coins, medals, costumes, bones, furniture, portraits, you name it, it’s there, all beautifully presented also.

I think the one impression which really stuck with me was the stone age period. Some of the tools, like hammers and axes, looked like no other stone age tools I’ve seen before in other museums. From the very beginning, it seems like the Finns have developed their own sense of design.

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