Tuesday, 30 August 2011

More Chocolate Delights and the cucumber meltdown!

Posted by Zachary and Jacob about Saturday

By Zachary
More chocolates at the Old Market! Believe it or not, but those are chocolate potatoes there are also the fish wrapped in tinfoil. Aren't the potatoes a good imitation they actually have "dirt" on them! then there is a whole tool set with the wrenches and some bolts. I think there are a lot more on the Flicker album, there was even a baby bottle.

More Pictures from Finland!

Videos and pictures from Night of the Arts!

On the left we are doing a handstand on the island of Suomenlinaa in front of one of the residential buildings. on the right is a picture of Jacob showing how small the door is! It is an optical illusion the door is actually only less than a meter behind Jacob. Suomenlinaa means "Finland's Castle" and was an fortress first built when it was a part of Sweden in 1748 to guard the entrance to Tallinn. There are four islands connected by bridges and cobbled streets, with lots of different museums like a submarine, a former prison, and a Naval Academy. There was a wedding at the big church too. It was free to take the city ferry across with our transit passes.

Here we are goofing off by the water
On the left we are doing a handstand in a tunnel at the end you can't see any thing so we sent a flash of the camera down the stairs and saw that there was a "do not come down the stairs" sign where you wouldn't notice it at the bottom of the stairs. On the right we are standing in one of the windows of the castle.

Here if you can believe it these are strawberry hats there were also blueberry hats behind.
 by Jacob
For lunch I made the wrong choice between soup and  a sandwich with cucumber  (which I hate) and so I had a cucumber meltdown.  

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Night of the Arts in Helsinki

Friday was the 23rd "Night of the Arts" in Helsinki, an annual city-wide festival where artists of all kind perform throughout the city in restaurants, museums, shopping malls, and throughout the streets. With the terrific weather, the city was packed. Teenagers mainly used it as an excuse to gather en masse at Toolonlahti (a bay/lake near our apartment) for a massive underage drinking party, but others do seem to enjoy the actual arts scene.

For us, we wandered down the esplanade, then over to Kampii area to catch a cool bluegrass band that looked like the "Bears Jamboree" band from Disney, complete with banjo, big double bass, and washboards for instruments, along with big shaggy hair! The big feature for us was the medieval jousting tournament (see pictures and captions by Jacob below). Lots of other musical highlights that you can check out on the Flickr album link, such as the choir in this beautiful old church, the rock band playing from a crane suspended about 10 stories high on Hesperiankatu, along with the bluegrass band and the opera singer from the balcony.

 This is a picture of a guy on a tight rope who was on for a long long long time. He is even drinking coffee.
This is a picture of one of the knights from the medieval jousting. the jousting was cool because they charged and speared heads and the bodies blew up, then they rode passed and chopped cabbages off of poles, then they had small hoops on poles and stuck their sword through, then they jumped over the fire and stuck  their spears into the target, then they did the jousting with spears but no body fell off their horse, then they had a fire battle and one of the night's  hair cought on fire.
At the Opera House (Ooperon) there was a "Finnish Idol" type TV show filming about choirs and poetry and whether they work together (at least that's what we think given our meagre Finnish!). Anyway the scenery with Toolonlahti behind was quite nice!
this is a picture with somebody on their balcony with a crane holding up the grand piano. An opera singer performed from the balcony to the big crowd below.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Meeting our new friends

Yesterday we met our new friends from church.Their names are Samuel, Lucas, Daniel, and Anne Carolina. We took the train from Helsinki station to the Kyrola (with two dots over the o and the a.) They met us at the train station we and we went to their house. We started with an opening game of Risk (that was never finished),  in the middle we had a snack. We played Risk a long time and then before that was finished we decided to go do Lego. Then we played a Quest game (which usually takes a few months to finish) where you make a city and then you have to make a player. Then you start getting jobs and getting money to buy things. After that we played on the trampoline and had a second snack. Then we took the train back to the Helsinki station.

Monday, 22 August 2011

The Chocolatey Coating Makes it Go Down Better!

First part posted by Zachary, captions by Jacob:

This is why they call them Finns!
Sunday we went to church and tonight we went to the newcomers tea for the church. At the end we went outside and noticed that it was pouring rain. Really the only way to explain it is to say that there was lakes in the middle of the street and the gutters were water-falls! We got out the door and it was just pouring down so we just ran. We were just in time to get a bus. We got to Kampi and then we got soaked going 30 metres to the T3 tram stop. When we got off the tram we just started to sprint but when I noticed my feet were under-water we started to back out and stood in the tram stop while dad decided what to. First he decided that when the light turned green we should sprint down and across the street and then said scratch that and we just tried to jump across a lane's worth of a puddle and sprinted across the flooded road and park where we were when we got home we were wringing out clothes and there was water in our shoes. But as Olaf would say, "That's NOTHING!'

On the right is a picture of chocolate salami and on the left is a picture of chocolate egg and cheese they are very cool. They would make a good sandwich on chocolate bread with Nutella for butter!
On the left is chocolate bolts they are cool because it actually looks like they have rust. On the right is a chocolate golf ball even though I don't like golf it is still cool.
This is a picture of chocolate key I wonder where they lead?

Sunday, 21 August 2011

What a FINN-ish!

In the midst of travelling, you're guaranteed to come across some strange sights, but a pink bicycle rickshaw pulling a giant squirrel around Olympic Stadium?

FINN-d our flickr album here!

This past Saturday was our first real day of playing tourist. Our apartment is 3 km walk to Seurasaari Island, a park that became very popular with Helsinki residents in the mid-1800s. It's now connected by a long wooden bridge as a pedestrian only park. So the boys and I hopped on the #24 bus and met Debbie, who took the opportunity to get in a nice walk. The island also houses an open air museum of numerous building brought here from all around Finland, including a big stave church, farm buildings, big boats used to bring people to church, and parish buildings.

The Dalai Lama is visiting Finland this weekend. Therefore, after walking through Seurasaari, we went home and watched his public lecture on "The Power of Compassion" that was being live webcast. It was impressive seeing his humanity on display, and his message of how true personal happiness can only be based on compassion for others was simple and powerful.

On the left is the long wooden causeway bridge to Seurasaari Island. On the right is a storage shed used to keep food way up high and out of the reach of bears!
Here's one of the very long boats used in many Finnish communities to ferry parishioners to church. I guess this makes it very obvious who is late for church by who's soaking wet from swimming!
This is how the Cuddle Bear recharges his batteries!
You might notice an improvement in the boys' handstands after a week of training and shaking off the rust from 5 weeks of lounging by the beach and eating pita gyros and fish balls! Left is at the National Cathedral, and right is at the Olympic Stadium (1952 Games).
The Helsinki City Marathon "ran" this Saturday. Started at Olympic Stadium by the statue of famed Finnish runner Paavo Nurmi, then looped by our apartment on a big lap around the western bay of Helsinki, to the city centre, then looping around again back to Olympic Stadium. Despite my never being a runner, the abstinence from cycling since the start of our Euro trip, my runs with Olaf in Norway, and seeing the marathon here has given me stupid thoughts concerning the Niagara Marathon in October 2012...
We went to Olympic Stadium to catch the finish. Great atmosphere of the stands full and cheering all the finishers. The best was when the 6th finisher did a front roll across the line - the boys loved that and want to do a front tuck when they finish their next running race!
Check out this FINNish line battle for silver in the women's race!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Can't believe it!

August 15 Monday 2011
Today we arrived if Finland by ferry. The ferry left Stockholm at 5:00 pm and arrived in Helsinki  at 10:00 then we met Juha and Heikki who daddy will be working with for the next 2 and a half months and we went to the apartment together the apartment wasn't ready until 2:00 so we went for lunch with Juha and Heikki. After lunch the apartment was ready so we explored there and we went downtown to Stockmanns. That is a 10 floor store with 8 floors and then -1 and -1a since we lost one of the European adapters in Stockholm some day we bought a new one there.

August 16 Tuesday 2011
Today we went back downtown and looked around some more then we went to the main metro station to get bus passes but we needed photo ID to get the personalized pass and mom didn't bring it for us so we waited until tomorrow. We  also found a good gym so we also went there today and talked to our coach called Simir the gym is in a big sports complex at the far end in an enclosed area the doors are locked so people don't come and play around.

August 18 Thursday 2011
Today was daddy's 43rd birthday! and daddy went to work and Juha and Heikki gave him a University of Helsinki sweater. this afternoon we went to gym again. Then we had chocolate croissants for daddy's birthday dessert.

August 19 Friday 2011
Today daddy took us to show us his lab we went home and and then took the metro to gym from 5:00 to 8:00

This is from August 15 At lunch with Juha and Heikki where I had the Chicken that is in the picture, Jacob had a Pizza, daddy had Salmon, and mommy had Goat Cheese Salad.
As you can see here there is another Jokerit jersey.
On the left is the taxi that took us to the apartment and on the right is a very white National Cathedral.

Here on the left is us doing a handstand on the main deck of the ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki and on the right is us with our bus passes and the Helsinki bus map behind.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

43rd Birthday at the 60th Parallel!

It's my 43rd birthday today, and what better way to celebrate than to be travelling with my family around the world? We've already settled quickly into life in Finland, with the boys set up at a good gymnastics club on the easter side of Helsinki. Juha and Heikki were kind enough to give me a lab jumper for my birthday, and we had some chocolate croissants for a birthday treat at home.

I was wandering around this evening and stumbled upon an UEFA Cup soccer match between the top Finnish team (HLK) and a German team (Schalke). 30 min before game time and the drumming, chanting, and singing was already in full roar! From the rocks nearby where I am, you can sit for free and see about 1/3 of the field, so there were a lot of people there watching and drinking. HLK ended up winning 2-0, scoring just as I left.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Helsinki's a Joke(rit)!

Here we are in Finland, the 4th country of our EU adventures and the first official research stop for me. I'm working at U Helsinki with Juha Peltonen and Heikki Tikkanen on a project on hypoxia and acute mountain sickness. We arrived Monday to a rainy day, so what better way to get oriented than having me get the family completely lost wandering the downtown? We did eventually make it to the main part of downtown and the massive Stockmann store, 8 stories high! Actually 10+ if you count that it has floors -1, -1A also!
Finland is pretty much as hockey-mad as Canada, and the local team is Helsinki Jokerit (Jokers). Here's Jacob modelling the far-less-than-intimidating jersey - about as scary as a maple leaf!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

The Stockholm Stadion Sneak...

Friday afternoon while walking towards KTH to revisit my ISU past, we walked by Stockholm Stadion, site of the 1912 Olympics. While wandering around the perimeter trying to get a view of the track inside, the groundskeeper who was leaf blowing nearby must have left a gate opened. Well, when faced with something like that, there's only one thing that you can do, and that's to walk through that gate and apologize later if needed!

Next thing you know, we're inside the stadium wandering around, completely alone except for one runner training with her coach. Pretty soon, we were completely alone, a rather surreal feeling. Well, the only thing you can logically do in THAT situation is to run a lap with the theme from "Chariots of Fire" playing in your head. OK, that was the 1924 Games, but it's the thought that counts! So that's what we did!

Along the way, the boys checked out the steeplechase hurdle. Man that thing is HIGH and the pit is DEEP!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Vasa Museum

On the way home we saw a guy with a gigantic Toblerone it was 2 kilograms of Toblerone. It's a bit far away but you still can see how huge it is! Remember how Daddy was making fun of Swedish supermarkets yesterday? Well, today we went to the same market and he ended up buying chips!

Lots of Pictures from our Stockholm Adventures!

Today we got the 24 hour Metro pass we also had to pay for cards but they are reloadable so if we come to Sweden Again we can put more on them we also learned that kids are free on the weekends! we went 2 stations and then noticed that we should have only gone 1 stop so we went across and got on the Train that was there but we learned that it was the wrong train to late daddy and Jacob got off but me and mommy didn't. So we had to wait 8 minutes for the next one that went back. Because of that we missed the bus by about 20 seconds. when we did get on the bus we went to the Vasa Museum. After the Vasa we went to the city hall and got a guided tour one room was called the golden room you know why? because it was made of 23 carrot goldthere was a thin leaf of gold sandwiched between 2 pieces of glass in a mosaic.

The story of the Vasa: The Vasa was built by King Gustav Adolfus the second. Because he was in a war with is cousin Sigismund Who was king of Poland about family, religion and conquest. the Vasa was contracted with 3 other ships which only 1 other being finished. Thee king had just lost 10 ships and really needed new ships The Vasa Was the First Ship that was made with 2 gun decks (you would think that if he was in a hurry for ships he would just get normal 1 deck ships). The ship was supposed to go on a 1 day sail to get soldiers to man the 64 cannons and then it was supposed to go on to Poland and stop ships from going in and out. On the first part there were about 200 passengers with the 150 crew members. The Vasa went into the harbor but after about 20 minutes the wind started to blow the Vasa tipped but righted itself once or twice but the guns were used for a royal salute so the holes were open and one time water started pouring in through the holes and the ballast went to the left side.

After about 20 minute more it hit the bottom and instead of blocking the polish harbour it blocked the swedish harbour (the other ship was finished 1 year later so they learned from the Vasa and this ship (called the Apple) was in the royal navy for about 30 years). some things that were wrong with the Vasa were that it was too top heavy with not enough ballast and it was too tall and thin in the other ship they used cannon balls for ballast since they are heavier than the stones that are used in the Vasa. Archaeologists think that about 30-50 people died most of the people survived because they were waving from the top desk 10 of the skeletons were in the museum. In 1961 they started to restore the Vasa. The Vasa was very well preserved because the baltic sea is not salty so there aren,t any ship worms to eat the woodthey brought it partly out of the water and then got out as much of the water and dirt as they could so they could take it to dry dock. they took all the loose pieces out, cleaned, and numbered them then they put them in a water bath untill they could restore them and soak them in polyethylene glycol they also soaked the ship in polyethylene glycol! for 19 years they sprayed it at first every 20 minutes day and night and slowly got longer and then for another 7 years they had to let it dry then they took it to the museum.

Here's a free .mp3 album you can download all about the Vasa!

In the Gold Room of Stockholm City Hall, the mosaic maker wanted seven years to make the room but was only given two years because the opening day was already planned. This led to a big mistake. There is a headless horseman at the very roof when they ran out of room to finish the mosaic because they started from the bottom, so they just left it like that. The horseman turns out to be King Erik from the 1300s. It actually worked out well because Erik was beheaded in battle with the Danes!
On the left we are outside City Hall doing a handstand. On the right we are in the Blue Hall inside City Hall. The architect planned it to be blue but ended up keeping it this way, but the room name was already announced so it stayed that way. He planned the stairs by making eight different wooden models and having his wife test them with big gowns and high heels to decide which is the most comfortable. They are wide and the steps are not very tall so people wouldn't fall or trip at special events like the Nobel Prize banquet.
 On the left is the Ericsson Globe arena, the largest spherical building in the world. If you look closely on the right there is a glass elevator that is also spherical that you can take. On the right we are at the Royal Palace.
On the left is a Viking helmet, and on the right we are doing more handstands in front of St. Jacob's church!