Sep 242012

Helsingin sanomat has a nice article on changing face of the city.

Ancient postcards are complemented with an exact replica of the scene in 2012, and the border between the two can be dynamically slid to reveal how the features of the area have evolved.

Helsinki split by time

This image is towards Katajanokka, showing one of the ugliest buildings known to man: Alvar Aalto’s Enso-Gutzeit HQ, a piece of white marble absolutely no-one needed.

Aug 232009

Flying fruits de mer on the Senate SquareStopped by Senaatintori on Friday to view the maritime show of Plasticiens Volants.

The helium-filled critters were indeed impressive and imposing. Especially the lobster was well-animated and pleasant to watch.

Having gone in on the Kauppatori side and exited through Kruununhaka, the hardships of fellow watchers as outlined in the Helsingin Sanomat fora went completely unseen.

The conditions were not optimal, and the quality of the images reflects this. A couple of snippets of video turned out better, and the best of the bunch is likely to land here.

Sea serpent's shadow on the wall

Aug 132009

Art goes KapakkaThe annual Art Goes Kapakka prequel for the Helsinki Festival of the Arts is here once again.

Spent the Thursday evening enjoying a splendid muikku-quiche, gourmet chocolate, rather nice piont grigio and the performances of five choirs.

Not bad.

And I’ll definitely think about changing the Saturday breakfast location to Fazer on Kluuvikatu.

Jul 092009

I’ll miss this year’s Finncon, this year’s largest science fiction convention in Europe. The program looks nothing short of exciting: books, television, movies, games – it’s all there.

The two highest profile guests of honour in this year’s con are George R. R. Martin and Alastair Reynolds. Both of whom serendipitously happened to have a signing session in Akateeminen today. Couldn’t let the occasion pass on by: bought two books and got the autographs. Game of Thrones has been published as a new hard-cover edition in finnish – looked nice, especially with the interior illustrations by Petri Hiltunen.

Meeting the authors would have been just a tiny fraction of the whole shindig in Kaapelitehdas, but it sure was a nice bit of consolation nonetheless.

Oh well, there’s always the Next One. Jyväskylä in 2010 does not sound too bad.

Jul 072009

Korkeasaari:  BisonAs a long overdue entry, here’s a brief description of Korkeasaari, a week ago.

A week when we still actually had summer.

Summer enough to cause the animals to mainly lie on the grass as opposed to being out and about.

By far the most active creatures were the uncaged ones. Ducks and geese roamed the island in family-sized flocks, and there were plenty of male peacocks strutting their plumage.

The very first attraction, the bunny pit, pretty much immediately on the right upon disembarking was empty. The cats, both big and small all out of sight (apart from a photogenic snow leopard). Herbivores were mainly lying on the ground and employing their multiple stomachs on a complex digestive adventure. That is, apart from a guanaco, who all of a sudden took to rolling around on its back (which sadly went unrecorded, sometimes these things come and go way too fast for heat-torpored reflexes).

Korkeasaari:  TortoisesThe critters staying indoors were more active. And in the case of these tortoises shown on the right, quite frisky indeed.

Korkeasaari:  AraThe big construction work next to the bear enclosure was still under work, and apart from a duo of blue-throated aras there weren’t any major new arrivals on the island.

Still had the loaner wide-angle lens, but didn’t really come up with any shots of magnificence. The few shots of the shallow Helsinki skyline in the summer sunlight came closest to being any proper use of the glass. Didn’t carry the macro lens, hence the obligatory pictures of poison arrow frogs are not optimally sharp.

Helsinki from the Korkeasaari ferry

May 312009 logoI broke the fifty reviews-barrier at the other day.

And certainly don’t intend to stop.

The first couple of months in a very abbreviated format:

  • Best food: Dong Bei Hu (recently relocated).
  • Biggest disappointment: Casa Largo.
  • Most pleasant surprise: Ryan Thai.
  • Strangest: Kimito Kitchen (by a mile).
  • Next in line: Plenty more reviews.
Mar 082009

Sarjakuvakeskus, which just won the Unelmien Helsinki-award on account of being a jolly good place to spend time (and money too), has a small exhibit on Fingerpori, by far the best comic strip to surface in Finland for absolute ages. There’s nothing new on the walls, everything has been seen in Helsingin Sanomat or the albums already, but it’s still a convenient excuse to visit the comics center.

Feb 192009

Sealife Helsinki:  Reef tankIt’s been years and years since the Sealife Helsinki aquarium was opened. Last Embarrassingly enough, last Saturday was the first time I visited it.

The aquarium is housed in a large building next to Linnanmäki amusement park, and is certainly easy enough to reach.

The selection is pretty much confined to fish and occasional invertebrates – no penguins, no seals and especially no whales.

Sealife Helsinki:  Shark
Inmates range from the typical (large swarms of cardinal tetras) to seldom seen (cold water rays), via oddballs (trumpetfish). This year’s theme is sharks, and there are a plenty of them on show – though they are from the small end of the range.

Compared to the likes of New England Aquarium and the one in Barcelona the Sealife Helsinki is a small establishment with around forty tanks. Twoof which are large enough to walk around (or even through). A few are embedded in walls with bulbous extensions providing visibility into the usually odd inmates.

Sealife Helsinki:  Tiger shovelnose catfish

Sealife Helsinki:  Bottom-dwelling sharks

Sealife Helsinki:  Baby ray

Jan 262009

Chinese New Year in LasipalatsinaukioYesterday was the chinese new year, when the year of the rat turned into the year of the ox.

Helsinki celebrated the occasion for the third time, with a smallish festival on Lasipalatsinaukio in the middle of downtown.

The weather was far from optimal. The consistent drizzle threatened to turn the bright red rice paper lanterns into mush, and definitely made the icy ground underfoot uncomfortably slippery.

The square was packed with people. Especially the food court was stuffed and unruly enough to deter from queuing up. By far the most scrumptious offerings were by Dong Bei Hu – their barbecued squid on a stick is definitely something to try out on an inevitable visit.

Chinese New Year in Lasipalatsinaukio:  Fireworks out of handHad dinner in Tang Village in Kamppi instead. Clearly a popular alternative, since the staff was persuading everybody to stick to the buffet instead of ordering something off the menu. Which was a good choice, since the buffet was indeed filled with good dishes – with selection alternating somewhat between rounds (at least the grilled tofu was curiously absent before going for seconds).

The evening was capped by a sponsored fireworks display over Töölönlahti. The fifteen minutes of pyrotechnics was occasionally impressive, and the vantage point on the side balcony of the parliament building provided an excellent view to all rockets but the ones shot low. The camera of the n96 proved to be spectacularly useless in the tough conditions.

Chinese New Year:  Fireworks over Töölönlahti

Dec 102008

To combat the growing rabbit problem, the city of Helsinki has now hired a rabbit official. Sadly, no mention of Bun-e-vac, or Anti-Pesto is given in the article.

This is the second odd animal-related job in a short while. Two years back the european union decided that every stretch of open sea needs a porpoise observer. At least in the first few years the saldo from the baltic was a number familiar to finns from Eurovision song contests: zero.

Haven’t seen any small cetaceans lounging about in Pikkuhuopalahti. But I did bump into a bona fide rabbit two weeks ago. And that was indeed a genuine bunny, not a small hare. Which means that the invasion has moved onwards from Meilahti, where the previous sighting happened earlier this year.

Dec 022008

Anton Ego from RatatouilleThe game reviewing gig for Helsingin Sanomat ran dry after the weekly Nyt-supplement got rid of most of its fixed content.

There’s no end to reviews, however, since I started rating restaurants at, a pleasantly web2.0 community site all about where to pay for good food. I’m recycling old experiences, as much as I can remember them. And adding new ones as food in new locations gets sampled.

Thus far I haven’t managed to piss off any vengeful restaurant-owners with my half a score of comments. And since the only restaurant that donated me a dose of food poisoning (Dick Tracy) is long gone, I don’t have too much bile to spill.

Thus far I haven’t inserted any new establishments, but Base on Kalevankatu, with its scrumptious toasts, definitely belongs on the map.

Dec 012008

Obviously the best day to go shopping is the day when Elton John cancels his gig in Helsinki, and everybody with a ticket needs a refund IMMEDIATELY.

Why the trip to the counter, I hear the stifled questioning cry from the audience.

Simply because the seat-picking algorithms seem to be working with non-conventional selection criteria, and the seats offered are by no means the best available.

The workers in the brand new “service floor” of Stockmann had their hands full with less than pleased fans of the artist, but the thankfully the queues got emptied with good pace.

Sep 072008


FireworksSpent a couple of hours watching fireworks on friday.

The Töölönlahti park was packed (official estimates are around 120’000 attendees), but not too tight, it was possible to walk around pretty much the whole time. As long as the ringside positions were not concerned. Watched the first bout from the Hesperia park, and the rest much closer to Töölönlahti.

The event was the finnish championships of pyrotechnics, and the five participating teams had used a lot of care and money to put up semi-spectacular displays in the dark sky.

According to passersby, this year’s competition returned to using music in the background – last year’s having been all about loud bangs. The selection was rather predictable, with a surprise use of Tina Turner’s Simply the best, most of the teams used metal – Nightwish to be exact, three of the participants relied on the finnish band.

FireworksPhotography-wise the subject turned out to be challenging indeed as I expected. The hit rate of bearable images amongst all of those shot was in single figure percentages. And even there the artistic allowances in quality have to be more forgiving than usual.

I shot with the S3, handheld, using exposure times between 250 ms and one second. This brought in a lot of jitter, as the aging imagestabilizer was unable to provide much assistance.

A couple of pictures did turn out all right, but most were just colored blurs on a pitch-black background. And some images do not really resemble fireworks at all, rather than things picked up by the Hubble telescope on a bad hair day.

Next time demands much better preparations. And scoping out a good location where a tripod can be used without putting it in the way of too many drunken kids.