Tag Archives: Helsinki

Gamer’s Paradise

Being a self-confessed nerd I’ve been wanting to visit the Helsinki Computer and Games Console museum for quite some time, but hadn’t got around to it until now. Tucked away above an electronics outlet, this began as a hobbyist’s collection and has grown into the archive that it is now. It feels a bit odd seeing items that I remember buying when they were brand new, now turning up as exhibits in glass cabinets, but here they are. Spread over two floors, the museum is still pretty small… in fact, it contains about as many old games consoles and computers as I have in my garage. However, that probably says more about me and my compulsive tech-hoarding over the years.

As well as old desktop computers, like the Amiga 1200 and the ZX Spectrum, there is an example of just about every major games console that’s been released, including the CDi and Atari Jaguar. Plenty have their controllers and accessories too, though I’m not sure which games machine had a plug-in grenade, or even how it was used – but there is one here. As well as all the exhibits, there are TV screens showing rolling commercials for things like the original NES, Super Mario breakfast cereal and the ‘1984’ Apple Macintosh advert.

I guess it’s odd to see these things on display 1) because they are from my life time, so they don’t seem old enough to be in a museum and 2) we usually throw away old electrical items (in a WEEE compliant manner of disposal, of course). For a geek like me though, it was an enjoyable trip down memory lane. I still wish I could unlock that cabinet and power up the Sega Dreamcast for another run through of Shenmue though…

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Posted by on May 31, 2014 in Technology


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Heading Home

After a week in Finland, it’s finally time to pack up the suitcase and head home again. All week long it’s been gloriously sunny and Helsinki has been packed with happy people, relaxing in the parks and shopping in the shops. There’s enough time left to pick up any last minute purchases and to plan a big feast for the last evening’s meal.

When you tell a typically mono-cultural English acquaintance back home that you’re going on holiday to Helsinki, you usually get an expression that suggests you’ve just asked them to solve a really difficult puzzle. They know its nearby neighbors; Sweden is the home of Abba and Ikea, Denmark has bacon and Norway is the really, really expensive one. Other than the occasional F1 driver, they’re usually stumped as to what else comes from Finland.

Just for being a European capital with centuries worth of fascinating history and architecture makes Helsinki a worthwhile place alone. Add the location by the sea, the fantastic local designers, the markets and stores to spend your Euros in, plus the long, bright Spring days make this one of my favorite places in the world at this time of year. I’ve only travelled briefly into the North of the country, but then I guess that always gives me a reason to come back and spend some more time here again.

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Posted by on June 1, 2013 in Holidays, Outdoors, Shopping, Travel


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Looking Out

Whilst I enjoy walking around Helsinki, I have noticed that the way people act in crowds here is very different to the way the behave back in England. In England, we have an (admittedly) archaic and arbitrary system whereby men hold doors open for ladies and ladies always go first. Though there is nothing that makes this system right, it does create a simple means by which crowds of people can move quickly and easily through busy streets and shops. If you hold a door open for a lady in Helsinki, any men nearby you will immediately seize upon the opportunity to dart in front of you and push through the door. Similarly, if they go through a door ahead of you, don’t expect them to look back to check if they’re about to let it fall shut in the face of the person behind them.

In addition, there is a quaint and amusing tradition in England – seen if you are walking down a narrow street and you find yourself travelling head on towards another person. In the moment of uncertainty over who should go left or right, we do a short shuffling dance step, then exchange embarrassed glances. We make brief apologies, then step around each other and carry on with our journey. In Helsinki, if you find yourself walking head on towards a Finn, prepare to play a game of ‘chicken’ that you cannot win. They will simply charge onwards and bowl you out of their path!

These observations are simply the product of ambling around Helsinki’s high streets. If this is all too scary for you, then I suggest you take a short boat ride from the South Harbour to Suomenlinna Island. The panoramic views of the sea are spectacular, the remains of the fortress are fascinating and there are less than a thousand people living there, so you’re very unlikely to ever bump into someone (or have them bump is into you) whilst you’re out walking.

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Posted by on May 31, 2013 in Holidays, Outdoors, Travel


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Beside The Sea

Helsinki is a great place to explore on foot. Being obsessed with my pedometer scores (as I am) means that I can be counting my steps whilst taking in the sights. A word of warning though, keep an eye out for cyclists. Some of the pavement is marked pedestrian or cyclist only, but it’s not always clear.

The South Harbour area is typically busy with tourists, but if you don’t mind the crowds, there is much fun to be had. Guided boat tours, market stalls, shops and restaurants. Apart from the traffic, which can be a little fast for this country mouse, I love spending time in this corner of the city.

You’re never far from a cafe or kiosk selling drinks and ice cream. I don’t have a particular sweet tooth, but I’ll usually end up having ice cream almost every day here. Just as well really that there’s no excuse not to walk off the extra sugar.

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Posted by on May 30, 2013 in Food, Health, Holidays, Outdoors, Shopping, Travel


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Weigh Your Veg Out

Being on holiday means that everyday, mundane things become exciting. Just because they’re a little bit different and in a different place, the novelty of it all brings out a sense of fun that you wouldn’t have back home. Seeing familiar brands with different names and flavours, for example, always makes me smile. Just about any food can be bought with Angry Bird packaging these days too.

Shopping for groceries never fails to amuses me in Helsinki, primarily because of the way you weigh your fresh vegetables/fruit before you buy them in the supermarket. In itself this is neither strange nor unreasonable, but I’ll never forget the ‘eureka’ moment I had when I first figured out how to use the label-printing scales.

If supermarkets aren’t your thing, then there are plenty of regular old-fashioned markets to buy your fresh food from. In particular, fish and bread are best bought from one of these. Being a port, Helsinki is a great place to eat fish. Admittedly, I’m not overly adventurous, but whether you like your fish to be fish shaped (like I generally do) or if you like things with more tentacles and shells, then all kinds are readily available.

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Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Food, Shopping, Travel


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Touch The Sky

I’m not the best or the worst flier on the world. I don’t particularly like take offs or landings, but once I’m up in the clouds I’m usually OK. Today’s flight was on a gloriously sunny day, so it was predominantly enjoyable. Being diabetic, I have to request a special in-flight meal (even though there’s nothing in particular that a diabetic should have). It’s an available option though, so curiosity dictates that I have to try it. Turns out that I get a slightly larger sandwich, to keep my carb levels up.

The Marimekko branded cups, napkins and uniforms on the Finnair flight made me geek out a bit. It certainly brings a bit of colour and some Nordic cool to the journey. With the wind at our backs, it was just under two and a half hours from England to Finland, with almost enough time for me to finish off the James Bond audiobook I’m in the middle of listening to. As we approached the airport, the view over Helsinki whilst we circled for landing was pleasant as ever, if a little dizzying.

A quick shuttle bus later and The Sock Mistress and I were soon checked into our apartment. Hotels are fine if you don’t know the place you’re staying in, but since Helsinki is a regular holiday destination for us, self catering is a much more enjoyable option. Once the fridge/cupboards have been fully stocked with essential supplies, we can start planning our first full day in the Finnish capital.

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Posted by on May 27, 2013 in Clothes, Food, Holidays, Outdoors, Travel


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Going Up North

Airports are strange, unnatural places – which makes sense, because there is very little less natural than being strapped down in a metal tube and allowing yourself to be exploded across the sky. However, if you want to travel internationally, they’re something of a practical necessity. Not for the first time, I’m going to be taking my Spring vacation in Helsinki. Over the years it’s become a second home to me, so rather than risk trying somewhere new, I’m taking comfort in familiar Finland.

I’ve never managed to master the language and the exchange rate between the Pound and the Euro isn’t particularly favourable. Nonetheless, I love the design consciousness that pervades everything in Helsinki, I love the markets and the closeness to the sea… I even like the food… so really, there was no other choice.

Before I head off up North, I’ve got an overnight stay in Manchester. Luckily that means I can begin my holiday gorging/feasting a day early!!! I hope this won’t effect the flight-worthiness of my plane tomorrow, I’d like to think that even I can’t eat and drink so much that I can stop a plane from being able to lift off.

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Posted by on May 26, 2013 in Food, Holidays, Outdoors


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