Archive | September, 2012

Canned Dreams/Koiteli Rapids

30 Sep

Another week down! Another week of panicked study, quite dull classes and hiding from the rain. This week has been a bit grey all over, other than my trips to Finnkino and Koiteli Rapids.  Monday I also went shopping and found another great second hand store. This one was run by the Pentacostal Church and can be found on Uusikatu, numero 78. I bought a jumper and a scarf for 2 euros, bargain. I also sampled coffee from ‘Coffee House’ in town – yum! What a selection of buns and cakes! 

This year Oulu hosted the Nordisk Film Festival, a showcase of independent films from Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. The cinema, Finnkino, is right in the city centre and has a great-modern, cosy and snack filled interior.

We caught the end of ‘The Quiet One’, a movie about a girl who moves from Iran to Sweden and faces language problems, before we settled into ‘Canned Dreams’. It’s the story of all the workers who contribute to the ingredients that make up a can of ravioli. Sounds a bit odd, but it’s actually a really touching insight into the lives of workers all over Europe. Many have sad tales to tell, and life is grim and hard, but there were some uplifting ones too. One man worked the fields every day and told the story of his brother who had been killed in a car accident, by policemen who were drink driving. The man and his brother were very close, but rather than let it make him bitter he finished his story by telling us that his daughter was the meaning of his life, and he was trying to teach her to be wise and as happy as possible.

It was one of those movies that makes me realise that I’m very lucky, that I should work harder, and that I should smile even when times are hard.

After another crazy video-game ride-in-the-dark journey home I crashed out and overslept the next morning. Very luckily my class was cancelled anyway.

Wednesday we took a trip to Koiteli Rapids, something of a hidden gem to us foreigners; before going there I would not have associated rapids with Finland. Despite the cold (8 degrees on the way there, 6 on the way back) we had a great time. It was very beautiful and it would be a lovely place to go back to in the summer. There’s a stage for performances, a summer cafe and many little places where you can have a fire and roast makkara (sausages).

I recommend taking the long way round unless you have a good mountain bike, otherwise you’ll be stuck on 6km of dirt road with a bad bike and sore muscles. It was such hard going on a racing bike with no gears. We stopped to ask for directions from one of the few houses along the way and were lucky enough to meet with a very friendly older Finnish man (with a super fluffy, super friendly dog) who confirmed that we were going in the right direction. 

The summer cafe (closed, sadly).

Towards the end of the week I met with my tandem language partner – I think she was a bit disappointed with my level of Finnish! I felt awful because I hadn’t really prepared very well either, but hopefully she’ll be pleased with my Finnish phrases next week.

Today I will finally meet my kummi family – I don’t know where we’ll go or what we’ll do, but I’ll post an update when I get home =)


Finnish Food Mistakes

28 Sep

Two typical Finnish foods have been recommended to me this week and, sadly, they have not lived up to the yummy yummy pulla that I last sampled. 

Food numero yksi:

Salmiakki, aka salted licorice. Sounds odd, but worth a try. So I thought, anyway. The result: had to pick them out of my teeth in the middle of the street and throw them away. My tongue felt like a slug fizzing and shrivelling from salt. 

(By the way, on your first attempt don’t put two in your mouth in one go). 

Food numero kaksi:

Villi, aka goopy salty sour yoghurt something. I peeled back the lid to find a crust on top, not unlike that found on clotted cream. ‘Okay,’ I thought. ‘It smells bad, but if it resembles clotted cream in one way…’ 

Believe me, nothing else about it resembles clotted cream. It tastes a little like unwashed feet smell and it has a consistency of PVA glue, the kind you get given at school for art class.

I still cannot get the taste out of my mouth. Next time I will stick to foods in the bun-and-cake families. 

23: Ice Hockey and Marshmallow Pizza

23 Sep

Last night I went to my first ice hockey game. Overall impression: ice hockey is a violent game. But brilliant. Those guys have so much skill, it’s incredible! Flicking the puck from one end to the end while manoeuvring like they do is amazing to watch.

We began by cycling from Linnanmaa to the stadium, the five of us creaking along at high-speed on our rickety, pathetic bikes. We made it after a few bumps and busy crossings, thanks to my friend’s inbuilt GPS system. The stadium was really big and really crowded, and we had no idea where to head. We ended up right next to the rink, the only adults in a line of children, but the view was great and no one told us to move so we stayed.

What To Wear

I hadn’t been sure of what to wear, so I played it safe and layered up. An hour into the game I was glad to have worn my thermal leggings under my jeans! It was pretty cold by the ice, and I couldn’t feel my feet for most of the game. My advice – wool socks, plenty of layers that can be removed if necessary and a scarf for added comfort.

The game began with the two teams skating out, accompanied by some cheerleaders and sparklers – it was an unexpected start, but interesting. The game was Karpat (Oulu) vs Tappara (Tampere). Here’s a link to my friend’s video of the opening. Right from the word go the crowd was yelling, thumping their feet and chanting songs. The hockey players didn’t leave any time to warm up either; as soon as they were playing the violence, taunting, shouting and shoving began. Hockey was much messier than I had imagined! 

I didn’t really have an idea of what was going on, but the game was fast-paced and interesting to watch. During one of the breaks we grabbed some popcorn and coke and edged back through the crowd for the second half.

Sadly it ended rather quickly with a 3-1 defeat for Oulu, but it was a great experience! Afterwards we cycled into town for pizza and ended up at the ‘Golden Rax Pizzabuffet’ where we found this little delight:

                                                                                                                  Marshmallow pizza!

I was dismayed to find out that the Finns put odd things on their pizza (for example prawns) but this more than made up for it. One of the girls described it as ‘dessert pizza’. MMMM.

One word of advice though, unless you’re absolutely desperate, don’t use the toilet at this place, they stink. The most foul toilets ever.

To brighten up the mood after that, here is a picture of last night’s sunset.

  And a view over the water this morning.

‘You’ve Gotten 50 Likes’

21 Sep

A big thank you to all those who have contributed to the 55 likes that I now have for my blog. I endeavour to stop by the blogs of all those who like and follow me, but I’m afraid that my free time is limited so it may take a while for me to get round to everyone’s. Considering I didn’t start this long ago I appreciate all the views, like, follows and comments, and I hope that I continue to entertain and inform you!

Also, I’m playing around a little with the appearance because I’m as indecisive as they come, so apologies if the changes confuse you, I think I’ve found a theme that sticks (for now).

Enjoy the weekend!

21: This Week and Other Happenings

21 Sep

This week has flown by and I can hardly believe that it’s Friday already. I’m being worked hard here – many classes to attend this week and a whole heap of after class reading. I’m sad to say that I don’t have many interesting stories to recount from this week.

Things I’ve done:

– obtained my university library card and attended induction. It’s a very nice, light library with lots of seating and separate quiet and group study areas. It’s a bit confusing, but most libraries are, and the assistants are pretty helpful.

– ventured to the gym in the city centre (Rantakatu Sport House). Much better than the local gym, it has three gyms in one building, with a variety of cardio machines and a sauna. All for 1 euro with a sports pass. Only downside is getting to and from it in the winter.

– bought tickets for a hockey game on Saturday (my first!) which I’m quite excited about.

That’s all folks. Other than that I’ve been studying,  followed by more studying.

I also have a list of things I’ve learnt this week:

– look out for cyclists when crossing the pavement. Looking out for cyclists when at a junction whilst cycling. Generally, look out for cyclists, they’re everywhere and they move quick. Multiple near-takedowns this week because I’ve not been alert enough.

– my shoes are in no way waterproof and, thus, are completely inadequate. It’s rained alot this week. My skicoat, whilst dorky, has kept my upper half dry.

– classes start at quarter past the hour, not on the hour. So I need to stop turning up at ten to the hour and getting up unnecessarily early to do so.

I haven’t even taken many picture this week (I’m a big disappointment I know), but here are two that I did take, around 8.45am after my gym trip:

These are near the market square, right on the water’s edge. I caught the best of the day because not long after I got home it started raining, again. If the weather holds I may go out this afternoon and (hopefully) have something more interesting to say!

Best Buy!

16 Sep

Bargain of the week. Of the year. Perhaps even of the century.

I am very pleased with myself for this find.

Padded inside, waterproof outside, hood, inside pockets, snug enough to keep the cold air out but baggy enough to wear my (4 euros) fleece underneath. Not that cool, resembles perhaps a marshmallow BUT I won’t die of exposure.

Guess how much?

Go on, guess.

Nope, it was…

10 euros!


From this place:

It’s just called ‘Second hand Store’ and you can also rent a table to sell things again when you’re done with them. It’s a treasure trove, seriously. Might take a bit of time to wade through the stuff, but when you find something like a 10 euro jacket it’s worth the effort.

Ainola Park

16 Sep

As hoped, today was much more productive. This morning was beautiful, so after a trip to the gym (which was surprisingly busy for 8.30am on a Sunday!)  I went for a bike ride to Ainola Park.

A short bike ride in the direction of the city centre to begin with…

I hope I’m right in saying that the above view is of the Baltic Sea. It was beautiful either way.

EDIT: Thanks to   for pointing out my mistake, it’s the view of the Oulujoku river! Silly me =)

Just before you get to the path which leads to the park there is Linnansaari, or ‘Castle Island’. This is where the ‘ruins’ of Oulu Castle are. I say ‘ruins’ because this is what I found:

My ‘Oulu Guide’ tells me that the castle was commissioned by the found of Oulu, Charles XI of Sweden, in 1605. The castle was destroyed in 1793 when lightning struck on a wooden gunpowder magazine. Kaboom, no more castle. In 1875 an observatory was built in the ruins instead, to teach students of the Oulu Maritime Museum astronomy. What you see in the picture is a pretty little summer cafe which inhabits the spot. Not exactly what I was expecting, but it was pretty enough.

This is the kirjasto (library) and although it doesn’t look much from the outside it’s very modern and swish on the inside. They’ve got magazines in a variety of languages downstairs, as well as free internet, and an excellent section for kids (or novice Finnish readers like me!)

The Rough Guide says this of the park:

It is a ‘ pleasantly wooded space which makes a nice spot for a picnic or a late evening stroll’.

That’s it. That’s all it has to say. What a massive understatement; I think whoever wrote the guide either didn’t actually visit it or was feeling particularly lazy when he got the the ‘Ainola Park’ section. The park is incredibly beautiful, even though the summer has passed and autumn has turned the air chilly and the trees gold. A short walk from the city centre it stretches back a lot further than I was expecting.

Ride past the fountain (which I stupidly didn’t stop to photograph because I thought I’d come back the same way) and follow the path under the underpass. It gets a bit more woody, like this:

Keep going and you’ll get to this:

A stunning park, more like a stretch of woodland or a nature park than the kind of park you normally find in the city centre. The sun was shining as hard as it could, and the place was filled with families and bikes and little kids running around after these little guys:

Finnish ducks!

I love ducks. They are adorable. Watching ducks will cheer me up even on the worst of days, so I’m pleased that I’ve found somewhere with such an abundance of them.

There’s a cafe too, which as far as I could work out is open from 9am everyday, even Sundays! (many shops don’t open until midday on Sundays)

Just next to the cafe are these incredible water fountains!

And another pond with more ducks!

I was truly in heaven.

The park hasn’t really brought to my attention by anyone which is surprising for two reasons. First, it’s so beautiful and, if you’re like me and you like to relax in nature as often as possible, it’s convenient and does the trick. It’s magical and the morning light and golden leaves made it even more so. I can’t wait to see it in winter! Second, it was really popular! It was filled with people, probably the most people I’ve seen in one place (apart from the main shopping are of the city). It’s obviously a hot-spot for Sunday morning walkers, bikers and families.

It’s also home to the Northern Ostrobothnia Museum, Oulu Museum of Art and the Tietomma Science Centre.

If you follow the path right to the end you reach the dams, which you can walk along.

On the other side I found some mushrooms growing – and managed to tread in dog poo. The second time in two days! A great big wodge of it too that embedded itself into the tracks of my trainers and dampened my spirits a little. I really should learn to look out for it here.

The path keeps going until you get back to the path which leads to Linnanmaa, perfect for a circular jaunt. It only took an hour and a half approximately to get from my apartment, through the park and back home again. And it was well worth it.

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