Archive for the ‘Helsinki’ Category

Urban etiquette in Helsinki

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

The Finnish TV channel “Nelonen” (number 4) is showing some funny-while-educational videos during commercial breaks, with the theme of “Urban Etiquette”. The videos show some no-no situations, like letting your dog’s poo unattended, and suggest the proper behavior.

I’m especially pleased to see that they are chastising the annoying habit of standing in front of the subway doors without letting people out first (first video from the left, second row from the top in the link above). I couldn’t quite figure out why finns, normally well behaved, become like some sort of frothing beasts when put in front of a tram or subway door. Apparently it has something to do with the fear of keeping the conductor and all the people inside waiting. Go figure!

Urban Etiquette Videos

The best pizza in Helsinki

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

Courtesy of Flickr user canchi

As an Italian, one of the questions I’m most frequently asked is “where to get a good pizza in Helsinki”. Well, the answer is in the picture above: go get yourself a Dr. Oetker Casa di Mama frozen pizza, and you will have a better pizza than in any restaurant around town. Honest.

If you really, really insist on going out for pizza, then the closest to Italian standards I have found is in “La Vista” in Kamppi, although the quality seems to vary from one time to the next. And you’ll still be better off with Dr. Oetker.

Another option is to make it yourself, but that’s the subject for another post…

(photo credit of Flickr user canchi)

The Night of the Arts

Monday, August 24th, 2009

I took the video above in Helsinki last Friday, during the Night of the Arts (Taiteiden yö). This is part of the Helsinki “festival weeks”, where a number of free events are arranged by Helsinki’s notable institutions. Quoting from the website:

On this year’s Night of the Arts, the French street theatre company Plasticiens Volants will transform Helsinki’s city centre sky into an enormous ocean aquarium. Giant floating sea creatures will swim from Esplanadi to the Senate Square, telling their aquatic tale along the way.

I normally don’t talk about Nokia here because of the conflict of interest, but this time I must say that I was really impressed by the video and audio quality of my phone’s camera. I think the video above speaks for itself.

Check some photos as well (these taken with the Canon D20)

A strange apparition in the sky

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

UFO or Sun? 

A strange object appeared in the sky today, a glowing ball of red light peeked from the horizon and after a few hours went back to where it came from. A natural phenomenon or an alien flying ship? And will we see it again?

A (lost) career in interviewing trashbins

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

Perhaps you didn’t know it, but Helsinki is probably the first city in the world to have talking trashbins. Watch the video to see what I mean.

In short, the trash bin thanks you and says something humorous (examples here) when you throw something in it, in different voices provided by various Finnish celebrities. There are only four of these novelties in Helsinki downtown, and their location changes weekly.

This made the news in Italy, and the way I found out is that I, together with two other Italian residents of Helsinki, was called by the Italian radio program “Caterpillar” to actually interview one of these trash bins – well, more like give a live demonstration of its operation. The idea was to stop a passerby and make him or her translate the speech and comment on it.

I managed to find out the location of one of the bins by calling a representative of the City of Helsinki (who was very helpful, thanks!). We went to the place (in Esplanadi) some 20 minutes before the time of the interview and tested it a few times – it worked beautifully, although the speech was a bit hard to hear. But the pouring rain should have given us a hint that things wouldn’t be as easy as it seemed.

When the radio finally called for the interview, the bin went completely mute! We only managed to make it say a few “kiitos”, too short to be heard on the radio, but apart from that our subject refused to say a word. And I can only imagine what we looked like, three people around a trash bin sticking their arms into it. Downright embarrassing and definitely an end to my radio career if I ever had one.

Anyway, many thanks to Juho and Marjut, the two youngsters kind enough to stop under the rain for an interview. Who would have thought trashbins can have stage fright?

[Update: you can download the mp3 of the radio show here. The interview starts at 23:45]

The longest day has come and gone

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

Midsummer, or Juhannus as it is called around here, has come and gone and with it the longest day of the year. This is the view on the backyard that the Balecam showed at 1am, as you can see it was still pretty bright.

Although most finns go out of town during this holiday, I stayed in Helsinki to tidy up the house in preparation for my parents’ visit next week.

The Swedish Ship Götheborg arrives in Helsinki

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Although this is the high season for the sailors of the Baltic sea, yesterday the number of boats seen floating around the old harbour was unusually high.     The reason was the arrival of the Götheborg, a mid-18th century Swedish ship that had sailed the trade routes to Asia, sunk in front of its home harbour of Göteborg and was very recently rebuilt. I took these two photos from the balcony as the ship was approaching Suomenlinna. 

If restaurants make food like they spell their menus…

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

Can you spot the mistake?There is a number of italian restaurants in Helsinki, some of them bad, some of them good, many of them quite expensive. However they all have one thing in common: their menus are full of spelling mistakes! The incriminated menu in the picture (if you can’t spot the mistake, “Bianci” should be “Bianchi”) is from Trenta, an upper scale restaurant recently opened in one of the Sokos chain hotels. As a matter of fact I liked the food and the service, and they obviously spent a lot of money to get things done right, so why couldn’t they pay a decent italian translator? I mean, it’s two pages of text, how expensive can it be?

So here is my proposal: if you have an italian restaurant, or a restaurant with items written in italian in the menu, send them to me and I’ll spell check them for free. You can offer me a dinner (in that case for two, please :P ) if you want, but you don’t have to. I’ll do it just for my own peace of mind, so that I don’t have to take my blue pencil with me every time I go out.

P.S.: of course this apparently crazy proposal is supported by the fact that the number of restaurant owners that read this blog is a big fat 0. As a matter of fact, that’s probably the number of readers in general.

P.P.S.: the “blue pencil” is a reference to a practice in use in italian schools, where the teacher has a double ended pencil, one end being red and the other blue. The red end is used to mark “normal” mistakes, and the blue is for critical ones.