A picture from a stroll through my hometown
For someone who’s never been in Helsinki, or looked at pictures of the city online, it might come as a surprise that the tallest building in midtown HKI is a mere 15-16 floors,give or take. Now, I am not going to lecture you about it’s history, that you can find on Wikipedia(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hotel_Torni). However, what I am going to do is simply share a couple of photos of the Nordic capital that is Helsinki. So, without further ado I give you a few glimpses over this lil’ ol’ town, which I took as I had a coffee up on top of the Hotel Torni in the rather nice Cafe Ateljee.
This post was due already a couple a weeks ago, but because of technical difficulties, a lengthy post that I wrote on a cold October night never saw the light of day i.e. never made its way onto the world wide web. Sometimes my life feels rather hectic, even though when observing from a far, it isn’t, perhaps it is just my own mind that makes everything so difficult and complicated in my small world, but at times I feel that I need to unwind.
I often clear my head by going for long walks during chilly autumn nights, thinking about the past, present and future. One evening as I headed out, a scarf around my neck, a beanie on my head and a camera in my hand, I reminisced about a lot of things as I took deep breaths of the fresh air outside. It’s funny how climate can bring to our mind our own past sometimes, as if those things had happened just yesterday.
As I walked in my local park, that had gone silent for the winter, inhabited now only by small bunnies running mindlessly through the leaf covered scene, I remembered how I always linked autumn to anticipating something. I remember how as a small kid I waited eagerly for the leaves to fall and the colder weathers to come, because with cold weather came ice and with ice came ice hockey. Even though I have had periods in my life when hockey hasn’t been that important, as a kid it was. Partly because that was where all of your friends also were, on the ice. Only now as I’m a bit older I’ve noticed that in fact my oldest and most trustworthy friends were indeed my line mates as I was 6 or 7. Some of my friends continued to play hockey, I didn’t, I moved onto skiing, downhill that is.
When I started to ski and film my friends for snowboard videos and stuff (LINK), I got into new fun circles for which I am to this day still damn grateful. Every autumn as the weather started to get colder, we watched ,nearly non-stop, the webcam of our local ski center, to see if the snow-cannons had started to paint the slopes white, and when they did start to cover the hill with what was more Ice than snow, we headed to the center to film something. Waiting for the ski season to start was for a long time a part of my autumn, but that changed once I moved to Helsinki, and especially now that I live in Berlin.
Sure,I could have continued to ski in Helsinki, but it would’ve been way too much of a hassle to travel to the nearby towns, with public transport, not to mention not having the familiar faces of my “crew” there. As if by accident my road started to lead back to my former hobby, although this time to the rafters. A good friend of mine started to lure me into going to see the hockey matches in Helsinki, needless to say it didn’t take long for me to be hooked again to ice hockey. As the hockey season starts usually around September, this “spectator sport” started to be the new thing that I awaited to begin during autumns, we even went to see my team’s (IFK Helsinki) training matches in August, because at times it felt that the season couldn’t come quick enough. Needless to say, I haven’t been to IFK’s games in a while having moved to Berlin.
I have tried to follow both my team’s games and the local Berlin team’s games here, but it hasn’t felt the same. I do still watch the Finnish league (and the NHL , if they didn’t have a lockout season), but nowadays I’ve noticed I enjoy spending a lot of time with my camera. Even on that cold October night, as I was kicking the maple leaf piles with my feet in the empty park, I had my Sony with me. I perhaps lacked the anticipation of something “seasonal” but I have a continuous hobby now, which is surprisingly chill and allows me to clear my head as well. Dwelling through the park, snapping photos and enjoying the lack of noises is just bliss at times. That night I spent a good few hours walking around, stopping now and again to sit on a bench to observe the wild life that had still stayed in the park for the upcoming winter.
I believe Nietzsche once said ” All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking” and I do believe he is on to something there, since at least for me, when I walk alone in the evenings I am able to clear my head of the less useful thoughts and focus on the good ones, which is something that for me is hard to do at times when surrounded by people. I might have walked out that night out of the door, with a big stressful mess of different thoughts, but returned with a much calmer mind and even a couple of nice photos, all thanks to a “sleeping” park and a late evening walk. I also know now that I do not need to have anything to anticipate during the autumn anymore, sure skiing would be fun, but in the end, taking pictures or writing nonsense isn’t a bad hobby either, and you can do it anytime of the year.
Last year I befriended a lot of Irish people, supported Ireland at the European Football Championships in Poznan, saw Ireland get beaten by Italy 2-0, drank like an Irish man and yes, even sang like an Irish man (although mostly football songs). Having gotten to know the Irish culture a bit, I hadn’t had the chance to actually visit the green island itself, that is until last weekend.
It took me 2, not pleasant, hours on-board a Ryan Air aircraft to get my Finnish Ass to the land of Guinness and supposedly Leprechauns. Now, I could go on and on how much I dislike Ryan Air, but that seems to be rather pointless, but at least they’re affordable… What struck me initially as I got off the blue and yellow coloured “cattle” carrier, was definitely the weather. I as a Finn hear often that I shouldn’t complain about it being cold somewhere, but in Ireland I complained like Dudley in Harry Potter(which is a lot). I already had a bit of a cold as I flew to the birthplace of Bono and sure as Summer follows spring, my flu didn’t get better…even with the help of Guinness.
I had the pleasure of staying throughout my whole trip at my friend Daragh’s place as well as having him as my personal guide to the city founded by Vikings in the year 840. Having met Daragh basically the last time at the Euros in Poznan (and a bit after that in Berlin) we had a lot of catching up to do, so the first day went by fast, just talking about things that had happened in the past months. We had previously met in the Spring a couple of Slovenians who had now also traveled to Ireland to explore, like me, the Irish culture. It was no accident that I happened to arrive in Ireland on the 26th of September. The next day was a day that has in the recent years received a nearly national holiday status, due to excellent marketing, it was the birthday of Arthur Guinness.
On Arthur’s day we headed down to the downtown pubs to enjoy a drink derived from roasted unmalted barley, a drink that is almost synonymous with Ireland… Guinness. To be honest, before I moved to Berlin I wasn’t a big fan of the dark strong flavoured drink, but as I got to know the Irish, I got to know their drinks as well, and now I can honestly say that I am rather fond of the beer that is thought of as one of the original stout beers. “Sláinte!” Was heard on the 27th day numerous times as our Pints went up to knock on the pints of others as if to say “we’re in this together” and indeed that is how it was, from pub to club the dark pints found their way in groups onto our tables and as if by magic the content of the glasses vanished nearly as quickly as it had been poured into the glasses.
After a few “casual” drinks, we made our way to a bar/club called the Village, which had a nice atmosphere and seemed to be popping. Last year my friends had introduced me to an Irish comedy/rap group the Rubberbandits, whom I had been listening to also before I left for Ireland and as if by the luck of the Irish they happened to playing at the Village that very same night. I couldn’t have been more pumped, I was with my good mates enjoying Irish beverages and now I was even going to see the guys who’ve made songs like “Horse Outside” “I wanna fight your father” and more! (If you haven’t heard of these lads, at least peep them on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljPFZrRD3J8 , they’re grand!) As we walked up the stairs to the room, where they had just started playing, I could already recognise familiar lyrics ” …I wanna fight your faaaather…” and I knew that this was definitely a great night!
Those of you who might not know Guinness ,alongside having a strong taste, also contains alcohol, which can tend to cause “sluggishness” the following day after being consumed. Having slept a bit longer we decided to continue with the Guinness theme of our visit and head to the St. James’s Gate brewery, or as it is better known as, the Guinness Brewery. Our housing was rather far away from the brewery itself, thus it would take us sometime to make our way there, which meant we had to be swift with our moves and cut our “breakfasts” short and head towards the bus.
As we made our way to the brewery, I could see a clear change in scenery, from pubs and houses to more industrial style buildings with a main colour of gray. After numerous walked blocks, we made our way inside the brewery area, where we were greeted with the surprisingly friendly ticket staff. I have to seriously tip my invisible hat off to the whole Guinness brand for doing such a great job of ensuring that each and every guest felt welcomed to the brewery, as most transactions started with the phrases “where are you from?” following the staff small talking and even in my case switching to German to serve me (after which I did say that being a Finn, English’ll do). As mentioned earlier, I had a ongoing flu which basically took a lot of my energy out of me and at times it was really hard to stay concentrated during the tour of the home of the dark nectar of the Irish. Having survived to the end of the self-guided tour my energy was restored by seeing the amazing view over Dublin from the Gravity bar on top of the brewery (whilst obviously enjoying a complementary pint of the Arthur’s world famous stout). We spent a good while taking pictures and enjoying the view from the extraordinary glass bar packed with other tourists after which we headed home like boring old men to heal up so as to still be able to do something the following days.
The last day we decided to go check out the seaside of Dublin (to be honest can’t remember what area it was), if I had thought the inner areas of Dublin were windy, boy was I in for a treat. Yes, I should know that on the shore of any sea it is going to be windy, but still, you never really are prepared for it. I felt like I had someone pointing a hairdryer at me constantly, blowing out nothing but chilly seawind, nevertheless I had a nice day with my friends and was able to take a couple of nice pictures as well, before heading back with the DART train to the city. As it was our last night in the Irish capital, we decided to go out with a bang and head to the clubs, ensuring that my flight the next day would be one of the worst in my life… I did indeed survive the flight and am now happily back in Berlin writing this blog. I will for certain visit Ireland again in the future, but I will first have to rest for sometime to recover fully from this trip to the island that is Éire.
Even though I am rather good at remembering stuff, I am sure that slowly some images, that were once fresh in my mind, will start to fade away. This is where photos come into play, they work as a kind of a ” defibrillator” to get my memory going again. By simply glancing at a pic, I immediately relate it to some memories and experiences. Often it might be that the picture is not that meaningful even to me, but still I rather have a lot of pictures than too little.
I believe this is one of the biggest reasons why I take a lot of photos, even of objects that seem dull to many. Yesterday my camera was again with me as I was walking through some of the more known places in Berlin. I have to say, I blended in nicely with the tourist groups with my Sony and small Gorillapod.