Cover story Misc

Sail the world


Auli Irjala made her dream come true and sailed
the world for four year with her husband Hannu Aulin. They visited places like Greenland, Tonga,
New Zealand and Alaska, only few to mention. She wrote a
book of their adventures called Meren Selkä Taittuu (The Stories of Sailing on
, Edita 2007). It is a great story about the journey itself, good
description of the nature and life on the 11,2 meters long sailing boat called

{sidebar id=3}How did you become a

It was in
1986 when I inherit some money. Me and my brother bought a 6-meter long
sailing boat as an impulse purchase. I didn’t know anything about sailing at
that time. I had been on sailing boat only once in my life. I just tried to
learn it by myself, but then I gave in and took a course and realised what
sailing was all about. Later I bought my brother’s share, because it didn’t quite
work, owning the boat together. We disagreed on some things about the boat.
Afterwards I let him use it though and it worked very well that way.

How can one learn to sail?

Only way to
learn it is by sailing. When you get more experience you can sail further and
to more challenging places. I remember how great it felt when I sailed from Helsinki to Hanko for the
first time in my life. The great feelings come when you exceed your limits and
challenge yourself.

Did you plan the trip
to be so big before hand?

We were
planning the trip to last for 3 years, but we were aware that those kind plans
can easily change and so we ended up sailing for 4 years. We didn’t even want
to do around the world trip.

When you
are planning this kind of sailing journey, you need to plan the time schedule
and the route very carefully and according to the hurricane seasons and
predominant winds.

How much time did you
spend on planning the trip?

We spent
two years planning the trip, getting information and equipment, fixing the boat
and testing equipment. The hardest part was making the final decision of leaving.
But after the decision had been made, all the problems were practical problems,
which just need to be solved. The better you plan your trip, the less you will
have problems on it.

What were the places
you wanted to go most?

To Greenland. When we got there, we wanted to go to across
the USA
and so we cruised along the rivers of America. We also were dreaming of
sailing to Alaska,
but we weren’t going to do that, because the passage is quite demanding. Then
we met people who had done the journey and we decided to take an extra year and
go for it. And so we sailed from New Zeeland to Alaska.

Do you recommend that
kind of big trip to other sailors?

Yes, if
that is what they want. They should do it rather now than when they are on
retirement pension. You never know what’s going to happen in the future. Our
journey was definitely the right thing for us.

{mosimage}What did the freedom
feel like?

It is
contradictory matter; in the beginning it felt great, like being on big holiday.
But big journey isn’t any holiday, so at some point we felt like having
something to do, some work to do. In the beginning of the trip I felt guilty of
not doing anything useful and that was something I couldn’t have prepared for.
But when the time passed, the feeling faded and I got use to not being very
active. I wrote articles for magazines, but Hannu didn’t have much to do and he
didn’t like being inactive. It may sound weird, but being inactive isn’t good
for most of the people. Sometimes we even missed the everyday life in Finland, but
when we visited Finland
few times during our trip, we were amazed how hectic and stressful life in here
actually is.

We learned
to be more social and learned to rely on the boat and on each other more and
more. We didn’t get bored; our relationship was great and we saw lot of new
things and places on the way. Although there was a bit of numbness: for example
it was breathtaking to see dolphins in the beginning of the trip, but after we
were snorkelling with whales in Tonga we weren’t that impressed when we saw
dolphins. After eating so much fresh lobster we don’t feel like eating lobster
in Finland

I could
have stayed for longer, but Hannu wanted to end the trip and come home, for
work. But it took a year to come back after the decision of coming back, so we
had enough time to settle down with the thought of going home. Now I feel great
about it all and I know that I am very privileged to do that kind of adventure.
I really appreciate the experience I had. Now it is my turn to give time to my
parents. It feels good to be here now.

{mosimage}What was the most
impressive experience?

The whales
in Tonga.
We have always been curious about whales and we have seen lot of them before in
We also were really close to bears in Alaska,
which is very rare. We really enjoy the nature. Also meeting other people,
different kind of people than you meet back home was very interesting. In Finland we
usually meet people, who share the same background and values, but overseas and
especially in Alaska,
we met these crazy and great people, we wouldn’t get to know in here. It really
opened our eyes to many ways people live. After being moving from place to
place for so long and especially after very thrilling passage from New Zealand
to Alaska it
was great feeling to know that we were going to stay in Alaska for a year.

And the most
frightening moment?

On our way
from New Zealand to Tahiti the mast almost
fell down. The bolt inside of the mast broke and the wire cables went all loose.
It was in the middle of the sea, we were one week of sailing away from the
nearest harbor. Luckily we could solve the problem by ourselves. You will feel
good when you can cope with the situation like that by yourself. Other wise
everything went well, we were lucky, but in addition to that we lived very
quiet life and moved slowly.

What kind of sailors
did you meet?

We met lot
of sailors and got along with them well. Sailors, who do big trips like ours,
understand each others quite well, no matter where they come from. We met lot
of sailing families, even with their children aboard and sailors on all kind of
boats; for example in Tonga
we met this old man who was on his journey by a sailing canoe made of veneer

Did you know that you
would be the first Finnish sailors to go to Greenland?

We had
sponsors, because we were going to sail to ashore of Greenland
as the first pleasure sailors under the Finnish flag. I haven’t heard that
anyone else had done the same route; people usually want to go to South.

How was it living in
the boat all the time?

relationship was strong and good before the trip and it was dream of both of
us. Aboard you just don’t want to argue about small stuff. And if something
turns up, you have to solve it right away, because you can’t leave anywhere. Of
course there were moments when we were a bit bored, but there weren’t so big
arguments that we wanted to end the trip. On dry land it is easier to quarrel
about small matters that become bigger issues. And it is so easy to break up
ashore. No one should do that kind of trip to fix a relationship. 

Of course
it was crowded on the boat every now and then, like when we sailed to Greenland and there were 4 of us aboard, wearing winter
clothes. Most of the time it was only two of us and it was nice to have our
family members to come visit us on the journey. We are very different kind of
people, which was only the strength: we always had two different kinds of
solutions to problems and we just picked the better one. Our relationship is
even stronger now, after the experience.

How did you decide
that it is time to go back home?

wanted to get back to work and our parents were expecting us to come back,
especially when the trip was already one year longer than we planned it to be.
Distances are so huge, so if we had wanted to sail for longer, it would had
been at least one year more.

What is the thing with
the sailing for you?

The wind!
Sailing is just one way to move and see the world. The most important thing is
that I have seen the places on the way and disengage myself from routines and
everyday life back home. Sailing makes it possible to make that kind of trip
safely and on cheap. It really wouldn’t be possible with motor boat. That kind
of sailing is a life style.

You sold Kristiina and
bought and a new sailing boat, why?

We bought
bigger boat with the shower inside. In Kristiina the shower was on the deck.
This new boat is a project; we are going to change lot of it. It’s name is

You left your job
before the trip. Was it right thing to do?

Yes it was.
Now I work as a freelance journalist and writer. At the moment I am writing a
book about history of gaff schooner called Joanna Saturna. It is build in 1903.

Where to next?

It takes approximately five years to fix Manta. I would imagine that the next place we are going to sail
is somewhere cold, no matter if it is to South or North. You see so much wild
life in arctic area, which we are seeking. I like to be in tropics, but only
shorter periods. When we leave, we probably will stay for several years on the
trip; we just take our home, Manta, to some cool place, where are lot of whales
and birds. This summer we will sail in beautiful archipelago of Finland.

Concerts Music

Rock dreams on

{mosimage}If you live for rock and you weren’t in Hartwall Areena last Saturday you missed out a lot: Aerosmith rocked! Aerosmith is one of the most remarkable rock bands in the world and their 140 million sold albums make sure that everybody knows their songs. On Saturday 7 July they played hard rock and ballads non-stop for 2 hours for 10000 Aerosmith fans. People in audience were standing up or dancing during the whole concert. Especially when they played Cryin’ people went crazy!

It’s amazing (same than the title of another of their greatest hit), how after all of these 37 years on top, and yet first half of them spent on drugs, they all are still fit, good looking and rocking like there is no tomorrow. Especially Steven Tyler is very charismatic and entertaining singer. He definitely got that certain something! 

Because the date was 07.07.07 and the most wanted day to get married, for obvious reason, Steven noticed the married couple in audience, all dressed up and having the time of their lives, and congratulated them. In addition to the most popular day to get married, there were several Live Earth concerts arranged around the globe on the same day. Just before the song Livin’ on the Edge Tyler reminded all of us to really think about what’s going on in the world. And then he sang: “There is something wrong with the world today…” 

It has been a decade since these rock stars were in Finland, few years after they released the massive hit album called Get a Grip, which was the soundtrack of every teenager’s life in the nineties. We Aerosmith fans just hope it won’t be that long for the next time!

Walk This Way The same day it was released the Finnish translation of the band's autobiography Walk This Way. The book is very honest talk about the history of Aerosmith; including lot of sex, drugs & rock n roll, but also a great biography of the members of the band.

More information: 



7 July 2007 – Hartwall Areena, Helsinki 

Love In An Elevator
Same Old Song and Dance
Eat The Rich
I Don't Want To Miss A Thing
What It Takes
Back In The Saddle
Baby Please Don't Go
Hangman Jury/Seasons Of Wither
Dream On
S.O.S. (Too Bad)
Livin' On The Edge
Think About It
Stop Messin' Around
Sweet Emotion
Draw The Line

Walk This Way 

Cover story Misc

Olympics in a Finnish way

{mosimage}Finland is passionate about sports. In 1952, Helsinki hosted the Olympics and the city has organized the World Championships in Athletics twice. The country is also famous for its rally and formula one drivers, and of course, for its proud ice hockey team. But every year, during the summer, some other sports are more important. You might not have heard of them, but as you can imagine, these competitions imply the real Finnish spirit: mobile phones and sauna.


Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships

The mobile phones to throw are provided and you can even choose the best model for you. There is an area where you have to stay and the phone must land within the marked throwing sector. The official jury of the competition will accept or disqualify the throw. The jury’s decisions cannot be protested. Touch call! Good news is that there will be no doping tests, although all the contests have to behave their selves. The categories are Junior, Freestyle, Original and Team Original. For the Original category there is competition on 27th August. Winners from the national championships will be automatically in the finals.

25. August 2007 in Savonlinna.

Sauna World Championship

{mosimage} Sauna was invented in Finland and all the Finns have been sitting in there for all of their lives. In addition to Finns there are lot of thick skin people around the word and they are ready to take the challenge. The entrance fee for competitors is 50 euros and doctor certificate is needed. Even when Finns often drink few beers in or after sauna, alcohol and drugs are absolutely forbidden. Competitor has to sit and posture must be erect the whole time. Temperature is about 110ºC, in every 30 seconds half a litre of water will be thrown on the stove. The last person in the sauna is the winner. The rules are simple; if you can't stand the heat – get out of the sauna!

3. – 4. August 2007 in Heinola

Boot Throwing World Championship

Obviously Finns love throwing things. In boot throwing the brand of the equipment is essential: only four brands are allowed, including the classic Kontio boot from Nokia. The throwing style and the grip of the boot are free, but the leg of the boot must be straight when the boot is in the air. The throw is accepted if the boot falls in the marked area in time (in 30 seconds). This is the sport for everyone: from kids at age 10 to seniors up to 75 years can participate and for those taking this competition seriously, there is 2-day world championship with the finals. At least one thrower from every nation gets to the final.

17. – 19. August.2007, Harjavalta

Swamp Soccer

{mosimage} Swamp soccer has been the most famous summer event in Hyrynsalmi ever since 1998. The competition has been World Championships since 2000 and it is more and more popular each year and have made international headlines and involved thousands of soccer fans.

Some of the rules are obvious, like playing without a uniform top is not allowed. But there are rules differing from regular soccer. Because it is harder to play on a swamp than on a grass playing time is all together 20 minutes. The number of players per team on the field is 1 + 5. Each team must have at least 4 players on the field.

There are recreational, women's, mixed and business series teams. You will not be alone in the swamp: in addition to mosquitoes there are hundreds of Finnish and foreign teams with their supporters. 

12.-15. July 2007, Hyrynsalmi


Air Guitar World Championship

The Air Guitar World Championship was developed half by a joke at music video festival in Oulu in 1996. Ever since the competition has been success! The once so absurd idea has become into an international media event that attracts a wide international league of contestants and audience. This contest really rocks; it is hold in 17 different countries, all the way from New Zealand back to Finland. Air Guitar is all about surrendering to the music without having an actual instrument. Anyone can taste rock stardom by playing the Air Guitar. It is easy to get involved: just go to the website, register, tune your guitar!

Keep on Rockin' in the Free World! 

5. – 7. September 2007 in Oulu 

Wife Carrying Competition

The Wife Carrying Competition is held in Sonkajärvi’s and it has deep roots in the local history. In the late 1800’s there was a strong robber, who use to steal girls and carry them. Back then, it was not unusual to steal women from the neighbouring villages.

Nowadays wife carrying is a good sport and lot of fun. There are several styles and ways to carry the wife, but be careful and don’t drop her or otherwise you will loose points! The Greatness of the prize depends on the fact how great the wife is: the winner will receive the equivalent of the wife’s weight in beer and he also gets a statue with wife carrying motif. That is something to aim at, right? In addition to the strong and quick Finnish couples the competitors come from several other countries even as far away as from Australia and Japan.

7. July 2007, Sonkajärvi


Barbecue competition 

Finns love to barbecue and because the Nordic summer is short, they do it as much as they can. In August there is a barbecue competition held in the centre of Helsinki. There has been at least two months time to practise. Anyone can get involved and the fee is 20 euros. Everything is provided: the grill, food and even the hat. You can bring your own secret barbecue sauces and oils, if you like. The winner will be the one, who has the best style, who is the most creative and fastest. And the prize is brand new grill, fame and glory! This is the most delicious competition of all! Ready, steady, grill!

4. August 2007, Helsinki

More information about these competitions on the book:
Funny Finnish Pursuits
by R. Etelämäki, B. Maximus, A. Kmulainen.

Outside Finland Travel

Stylish Stockholm

Only hop, skip and a boat ride away from old Helsinki is the capital of Sweden and the home of 1,7 million of hip and trendy people. Stockholm is easy to get to, but hard to forget. Who wouldn’t fall in love with the beautiful old part of the city and the creative and contemporary cosmopolitan atmosphere of Stockholm?

Sweden and Finland have love and hate relationship. It is because of our long history together and apart, but nowadays it is all about competing in everything, for example in music and ice hockey. Some of you may remember that we just bit Sweden  in both sports this year! We
Finns have to admit though that there are lot of great Swedish things; like Absolut Vodka, ABBA and Pippi Longstocking.


The weather in Stockholm is same we have in Helsinki, but sometimes just a hint warmer. After all it is to south from here! When visiting the city in winter, it is a cool and trendy, but cold city to hang out. That is why I recommend you to go right now, when the air is warm and nights are light.

Bridges and boutiques of Stockholm

The whole area of  Stockholm is build on 14
islands and the city itself on 7 islands, so almost everywhere you go you will be surrounded by water. The most spectacular part of the city is the Old Town with its old and beautiful buildings. The Royal family lives there as well.

For obvious reason there are lot of bridges and if you take a walk instead of taxi from the ferry to the city central you will discover some of these beautiful waterways. Especially walk in the old town, called Gamla Stan, is worth of doing. What the heck, you may even see the king and his family, if you stalk long enough on the corner of the Royal Palace. If you get tired of shopping or chasing the princesses of Sweden, you can relax in one of the many parks of the city.

Stockholm is very vivid and cosmopolitan city, mostly because more than 15% of its population are
immigrants or other expatriates. There are lot of cosy cafes, restaurants with all kind of menus and bouncy night clubs, like Café Opera that has been the exclusive party central of Stockholm
for 25 years now. But it is one to mention, there are lot of other great clubs in the city and many of them don’t close until 5.

Swedes know design and fashion. For some reason they always look good and show up wearing the right clothes in every occasion. So, when in Sweden, do as the Swedes do! Best shopping street in Stockholm is drottninggatan. But there are more places to buy your little piece of Sweden than the crowded shopping street and malls. Pop in one of those boutiques in the narrow alleys of the old city or in Östermalm, the art and antique district. The prices are pretty much the same as in Finland.
It hasn’t been longer than a decade, when we Finnish Fashionistas use to make trips to Stockholm
just to buy clothes and accessories. But today we can go there and just enjoy the atmosphere instead of purchasing everything we see, because we finally have H&M and Nilson in Finland too.

Attractive attractions

Those who cannot get enough of culture should check out the House of Culture, Kulturhuset in Swedish, where the galleries, stages, shops and restaurants keep you satisfied for hours! Also Vasamuseet and Moderna Museet are worth of seeing. One of the things not to miss, if you walk in the old city, is the Stockholm’s Cathedral.

If you are more into sports and activities than old culture, you may want to see Globen, the sport and entertainment arena, which has a unique shape: it’s a massive ball! You also may want to go to Eriksdalsbadet which is Stockholm’s largest aquatic Centre with a 50-metre pool, adventure bats, spa and gym. The outdoor pool is open during summer.

If you stay for longer and with kids, you may want to do a day trip to the zoo, called Kolmården. The zoo is one of Sweden’s most popular tourist destinations and only 90 minutes south of Stockholm. I was there when I was a kid and believe me: that’s a great adventure for little ones!

The love boats

when you can fly to Stockholm in an hour, I suggest you to take the over night ferry to get there. It is
experience of its own. You can have massage or facial, have a nice dinner and drink colourful cocktails on the deck while watching the sunset. These ships are known internationally as love boats. So who knows, you may even meet the Mr. Right or if not, there are plenty of Mr. Right Nows on board! If it happens
that you drink too many GTs, “The It Drink” in Nordic, you really should try your best and get up early and go to the deck to see the most beautiful summer view of the archipelago of Sweden. The countless islands look amazing in the morning light.

If you are planning to take the ferry I strongly recommend you to stay in Stockholm few days in between, because the partying is usually so severe that you maybe thankful to have one day to recover from it and then have enough time and energy to discover the city. Too many people don’t even leave the boat on
their trip and that is a pity, because they miss out a lot! By the way: you can
also get off on the Åland on your way to Stockholm.


Åland Islands belong to Finland, but people living on them speak Swedish and that would be soft descending to the Swedish world and great way to see something new.

After all of these years that I have been exploring Stockholm,
I still don’t know what it is that makes it so much more glamorous than Helsinki. Maybe it is the certain self-confidence and style Swedes have? Or maybe it is just because the grass always seems to be greener on the other side?


more information

to Stockholm

cabin for 4 people starting from 110e


from Helsinki
starting from 110e

Metro map

click Stockholm.
Here you can find metro maps in every city on the globe!)

Art Exhibitions

OUR LAND! – Photographs from Finland

2007 is the year of a big celebration! Finland has its 90th anniversary of national independence this December. Over the past decades, Finland has experienced an unprecedented rate of economic, technological and social change. Our whole way of life is now totally different from what it used to be a few decades ago.

Oi Maamme! – (Our Land!) is an exhibition about changes in the Finnish life from the 60s to the present day. 23 photographers show how Finns have lived in recent decades, both in Finland and as migrants abroad. When looking at the photographs you will see a development in Finnish lifestyle as well as in photography.

You take for granted the things that you see every day, don’t you? It is good to see how this country has changed but somehow stayed the same (yes, Finnish children have always been blonde and blue eyed!) Still, a lot has changed in the everyday life of Finns during these decades: jobs, buildings, cars and fashions. But as a Finn, I see that all of these photos have been taken in Finland. Or maybe I am just so old that I actually remember how good old Finland use to be. Or maybe all countries are developing in the same direction, so it is more and more difficult to point out the differences between them?

If you haven’t been around for so long or if you just don’t recognise Finland when looking at these pictures, then you have to admit, these photographs are very fine pieces of art!

The exhibition is held at Tennis palace Art Museum, Salomonkatu 15, 00100 Helsinki.

Open Tue-Sun 11 a.m. – 8.30 p.m, Mon closed.

Tickets: 5 to 7 euros. Admission is free for children under 18. Free admission on Fridays.

Inside Finland Travel

Crazy Finnish summer

The Finnish summer is light, especially at the beginning: all the leaves on the trees are light green, the air is warm, but not yet the water. The whole landscape looks untouched. Then comes July: hot and long days with melting ice cream. At the end of August, the sun is still hot, but the colours have changed: the trees are all deep green. Maybe you will see the first yellow leaf. But even if there are signs of the next season, we still usually have an Indian summer. 

The Midsummer holiday, Juhannus, is the year's shortest night and most important occasion for drunkenness and revelry. It is time to escape the city. Most of Finns go to their summer cottages in the countryside and have bonfires (called kokko) by the lake. If this doesn’t appeal to you, there are lots of festivals, where you can find loud music, new friends and bonfires too. A lot of Finns start their summer holidays on Midsummer Day and after that much partying, a few days off would do some good for pretty much anyone.  

Finnish Summer

Juhannus used to be more serious affair than it is in these days. During pagan times, midsummer was a very potent night for rituals, which concerned future marriages and fortune. Many of these rituals were made naked. Will o wisps (ghostly lights sometimes seen at night or twilight that hover over damp ground in still air, often over bogs) were believed to be seen on midsummer night, marking treasure. 

I also remember one midsummer ritual that I used to do when I was a kid: I collected seven different kinds of flowers and ran around our well. I slept with the flowers under my pillow and hoped to see the man of my life in my dreams. And I remember how disappointed I always was the next morning when I couldn’t remember my dreams!  

Summer happenings 

There are lot of festivals and smaller summer happenings going on every week all around the country. Music festivals are especially popular here, and Finnish artists hardly have time to take their own holidays! Whatever kind of music you like, there will be a festival where you will hear your very favourite tunes. Just pick your melody. For example, you can hear rock in Turku, jazz in Pori and tango in Seinäjoki. 

In addition to music festivals there are other happenings for everyone. Do you like sailing? Then sail to Kotka in July. Are you big fan of eating small herrings? Visit the Fish Market in Turku. 

Do you think that Finns and their ways are odd sometimes? You are right and if you like that weirdness, you will love the Finnish summer, because Finland is an empire of weird summer happenings. The top 5 strangest happenings to mention are: the wife carrying competition, football played in a swamp, the mosquito killing competition, and the contests for who can sit in sauna or on top of an ant’s nest for longest!

Already internationally known, wife carrying is the sport of carrying woman; a wife usually. Several types of carrying are allowed: piggyback, fireman's lift, or Estonian-style (the wife hangs upside-down with her legs around the husband's shoulders, holding onto his waist). The major wife-carrying competition is held in Sonkajärvi, where the prize is the wife's weight in beer! Yes, that is really something to see!



Summer in the city 

Are you too busy to leave the city this summer? Don’t worry; there is lots going on in the city as well! There are hundreds of terraces, great beaches and islands to visit: all just right here, in the heart of Helsinki! 

Suomenlinna is an island in front of Helsinki. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a very popular picnic site among tourists and the locals. The ferry that leaves from Kauppatori will take you there in only 15 minutes. There are other islands to visit as well: Uunisaari, Korkeasaari (the zoo) and Seurasaari. Or you can visit another lovely town, Porvoo, from Helsinki by boat as well. The most popular beach in Helsinki is Hietaranta, where you can see all the white Finns burning themselves all summer long. Other good beaches are in Munkkiniemi and on most of the islands mentioned above. 


In summertime the place to party is Kaivohuone, where you can fine the trendiest people in town and a very large terrace, big dance floor, and on Wednesday nights, the pool is open too! One of the biggest terraces is on Mikonkatu and is a combination of several bars’ terraces. You will find the best views on the terraces on top of the tallest buildings in Helsinki, such as Torni and Palace. 

Northern lightness 

If you get sick of city life, I strongly recommend you to take a hike! Literally! Lapland is well known for its ski resorts, but it is a unique place to visit in summertime as well. The landscape and wildlife are well worth seeing. You can do different kind of activities: river rafting, fishing, hiking and hunting. And what makes Lapland such a magical place to visit is the white light around the clock: the sun doesn’t set at all. At its longest, the nightless night in the north can last up to three months.

Aurora Borealis

When you leave the city and its noises you will discover the real Finland: its lakes, forests and peace. The best way to travel is slowly and by bike, although public transportation is good in Finland as well. There are too many nice places all over the country to mention here, so the best you can do is to explore as much of it as possible and find your own favourite spot.

Outside Finland Travel

Dreaming about the Dominican Republic

There is more than just great wind and surfing on the island of Hispaniola. The Dominican Republic was the first European settlement in the New World, founded by Columbus in the early 1600s. Nowadays, the Caribbean is a popular destination for all kinds of travellers, including sailors from all over the world. And no wonder: turquoise water, islands with green hills and endless beaches make it a perfect destination for anyone seeking tranquillity. 

First of all, relax: this is the Caribbean – it is not like there are important churches and statues on almost every corner, like in Europe. You even have to walk slower! If you really want to do some sightseeing, then visit the home of Columbus in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican
Republic. That's pretty much all the cultural stuff you can do. As regards the indigenous people, the Tainos, they were almost completely exterminated by the diseases from Europe and the hard work given to them by the Europeans in the 1600s. Sadly, all that is left of the old Dominican culture is some cave paintings created by the Tainos.

Dominican Republic

Today’s Dominican culture is mainly on the streets: the language, food, dance and colourful art. Like dancing? The music is either Bachata or Merengue and it's everywhere: in bars, taxis and beauty salons. And no one minds if you dance on the street – or anywhere for that matter!

Most of the Dominican are descent of European, African and Taino(pre-Columbian indigenous) people. Usually they have black hair, but skin colour varies from very pale to very dark. It is easy to get along with the locals, especially if you know a few words of Spanish. They are very friendly and
relaxed. In fact sometimes they are so relaxed that if they were any more laid back, they would be asleep!

After the siesta, it is time for some fiesta! Dominican rum is very good and excellent for Cuba Libres and Rum Punches! You can also make a drink called “Poco Loco”. Making it is easy: take
a coconut, drill a small hole in it and add some rum! Dominican cigars are also very well known around the world. Some people say that they are even better than Cuban ones.

The food is simple but very delicious in the Dominican Republic. The most famous dish is named after the white-red-blue coloured Dominican flag: it is one part rice, one part beans and one part
meat or chicken. I used to start my day with the “Plato de Frutas”, meaning a plate full of fresh fruit and a cup of Dominican coffee, which is one of the best coffees I have ever tasted!

The local money is called the Dominican Peso, and the locals don’t have much of it. The gap between rich and poor is enormous and corruption is blossoming. Everything is much cheaper than
in Europe, so tipping should play a big part when paying your bills at restaurants, clubs and cafes. If you are smart, you will tip every time you are getting service, as many Dominicans don't get
any salary besides tips!


Outside or inside of the walls

Depending on what you want your holiday to be you should consider where to stay. You can choose to stay at the many-starred all-inclusive resorts or at the smaller hotels. The resorts are for honeymooners and lazy tourists. Everything is made easy for your vacation: eat as much as you like and get smashed on the free drinks by the swimming pool – even the people you meet in the bar are selected for you as no outsiders are allowed within the resort’s walls! It doesn’t sound too tempting, does it? Happily I can report that there is another option: pick a normal hotel and try a different restaurant every night instead of having that same old buffet-dinner at the resort.

Dominican Republic

The weather in the Caribbean is either really nice or totally terrible. The hurricane season is in autumn followed by the wet season: after all, it is the tropics and the plants need their water, so it rains a lot! In April the skies clear and it’s the sunny Caribbean summer again!

Trippin’in the Caribbean

 I used to work for a travel agency in the Dominican Republic, so I am an expert when it comes to excursions there. The most amazing is the whale watching trip. This is only available from mid-January to mid-March, when the giants come near to the shore to make love and give birth.

If you long for luxury, then the trip to Saona Island is for you. You can take a small plane from Puerto Plata to the South East coast of the country. From there the speedboat takes you to the beach, where the sand is whiter than snow! Food and drink is included and you won’t have any worries: just chill out on the hot beach holding an ice-cold drink in your hand!

Catamaran Sailing is another splendid way to spend the day. And so is a daytrip to Gayo Paraiso, which is a sand island with two sheds: one is a bar and the other is the place where you can rent snorkelling gear. You can take the speedboat to the island and on the way make a quick stop to find some massive orange starfish

If you want to see other sea life other than starfish, I recommend diving or snorkelling. There isn’t much in the way of big fish but what you will see is very cute: seahorses, rays and eels. You won’t find Nemo around there, but go and look for Emma: she is this tiny seahorse that I once rescued from the mouth of a fish!

If you want some action, you can always rent a four-wheeler, take a tour on a monster truck or ride a horse to the waterfalls, where you can dip into freezing cold but refreshing water. River rafting is also another way to get your daily dose of adrenaline.

Me and my friends used to have drinks on the beach every night and we always toasted the same thing: instead of saying “cheers”, we said “for another day in paradise!” – and that is what life in the Dominican Republic is all about!

At the cinema Cinema

Summer of ’84

{mosimage}Kid is a
confused girl trying to find her place in this world, between being Swedish and
Finnish, and being a child and an adult. Not knowing where she belongs, she
desperately wants to be loved by her mom, but at the same time she is ashamed
of her. Kid is almost a teen and her sexuality is starting to awaken, which
makes things even more complicated for her. The tension between Kid and her
mother rises so high that it almost destroys everything.

In many
ways Aavan Meren Tuolla Puolen is a
nostalgic and bright movie paying regard to the fact that it is director Nanna
Huolman’s first feature length movie, plus the young actors’ first movie. In
addition to good storytelling, the acting is excellent, especially the young
talent Mia Saarinen, who performs very well. The scenery is beautiful with
thousands of Finnish lakes and endless forests, and the Art Director made a big
effort to find artefacts from the ‘80s. A great film that reflects exactly how
the Finnish summer of 1984 was!


At the cinema Cinema

Finnish gigolo

friend agrees to help him to sell his body. Soon their business is booming and
Juha is making more money in an hour than in two days at his old job. His guilt
worsens every day, as does the
shame and lies, but the money helps him cope with the downside of his
new profession. Everything is fine, so long as his wife doesn’t know about his
new job or touch her antidepressants.

Miehen Työ is a film about a man’s
dignity and humiliation, as well as male prostitution. It is also a story about
taking responsibilities and the pressure on a man, a father and a husband. The
film is dark with a hint of a humour, but realistic and quite intense thanks to
the credible acting. Directed by Aleksi Salmenperä, Miehen Työ
his second feature, although he has made several short films, and hopefully we
will see another feature film from him again soon.



{mosimage}Interview with Tommi Korpela

You played the leading man, Juha,
in Miehen Työ. What’s Juha like and
was it easy for you to play the part?

is a man who thinks that his value is measured by his achievements. He feels
that he is loved only when he is able to support his family. I don’t think that
there are very much similarity between me and Juha. The part was challenging
and enjoyable to play.


Why was it interesting act in this

is my first main part in a movie and before this I have been doing more acting
at theatre and TV. So, acting on the screen is always good fun and experience.


How was the team?

was great and everything went smoothly. We shot the whole thing in about 6
weeks. I would like to do other projects with the team in a future.


What else are you going to do this

am busy for the rest of the year. I will continue my work at theatre and act on
TV as well.


Aleksi Salmenperä answers

Why did you make a movie about the
shame of a man?

liked the topic. It is interesting and important issue. There are plenty of men
in Finland and everywhere else on this planet who feel like Juha.


Did you any research about the male

met a journalist who had written an article about the subject. I read it, got
interested in it and read some other articles as well.


What is the deal of the man’s

want to accomplish things, be successful and if they fail, it is a matter of
their self-esteem. Men are very competitive and they measure their achievements
all the time.


Do you think that there will be
public conversations about the main topics of the film? Which topic will gain
more attention in publicity?

the male prostitution -topic, which really isn’t the main topic. It is easy to
hang on to it.


What’s on your agenda this year?

am planning new films. Few subjects have been in my mind for a while now. I
would like to do a film about an old man and his despair or about kids in the


Outside Finland Travel

Under the Thai sun!

Are you tired of waiting for spring to begin?

The earliest months of the year in Finland are the coldest ones and the social life is much quieter than in the summer. That’s a given, but did you know that in Thailand the warm season is turning into a hot one in March? So, why don’t you have a break from the cold and head to sunny Thailand?
Take a preview of the sun this year!

Thailand is perfect for everyone: for backpackers, beach bums, families and hippies with flowers in their hair, as well as for burned-out business people, who just want to forget the real world filled with stock exchange prices and all that. Spend a week, or months, exploring vivid Thai culture. You won’t get bored in Thailand: just chill out on the beach, check out the glorious temples, do some scuba diving or trekking. And whatever you decide to do, it won’t be too expensive!



Thrilling Thailand

There are plenty of things to do if you like outdoor activities. For trekking there are good places near to Chiang Maj, in northern Thailand. As a part of the trip you can also do some river rafting and if you don’t feel like hiking, there is always some friendly elephant who would like to carry you! For
those interested in climbing, Railey beach is the place to be.

Do you remember how it feels to walk barefoot on the beach? There are countless numbers of beaches to do that in Thailand: crowded ones and quiet ones. You just have to pick your favourite beach. Mine is Ko Phi Phi Leh, which is a deserted beach: no houses, just sand and palm trees! The island is also known from the movie called “The Beach”.

When the sun sets and kids go to bed, the beaches turn into big party zones. The most popular travellers’ beach party, the Full Moon Party, is arranged on Koh Phangan island. The party is so famous that I suggest you book your accommodation in advance unless you want to sleep on the beach (but
in case you do, you won't be the only one!). But don’t worry if the moon is not
full while you are in Thailand, because the restless travellers party pretty much every night!

If diving is your thing or you have always wanted to try it, there are several great places to do that, like Koh Tao, the Similan islands, Phi Phi and Koh Chang. You can see a lot of colourful life under the surface: sharks, turtles and even massive manta rays! Imagine this: you are diving and suddenly it gets dark. You think that it is an unexpected eclipse of the sun. You look up and what you see is a big school of these friendly giants, manta rays, swimming on top of and all around you. It looks like they are flying. It is a sight that will take your breath away.

After the deep blue, it's back to dry land and noisy Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. The
shining temples all over the country are amazing and there are lot of them in Bangkok. A few worthy of mention: Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo, where you can find the most revered Buddha image in the country. In addition to sightseeing, take time to explore those smaller side lanes. Who knows, you may even see a glimpse of the everyday life of the locals!

From Buddhism to materialism: shopping in the capital of Thailand is a dizzy experience. Three letters: MBK. If you say this word to the taxi driver, he will take you to the MBK mall and you don’t have any worries how to spend the rest of the day. The mall is not small at all! I spent two days there
and covered only small part of it. The infinite amount of the stuff that is on sale is overwhelming! I have to warn you though – they have a big problem with piracy in Asia, so it is up to your own judgement
what you buy.

Thai food

There are lot of food markets around Bangkok where the food is very cheap and fresh, but if you want to see something different, go to the floating market. It is a nice day trip outside of Bangkok and you can buy sweet and fresh fruits and souvenirs from the boats.


Thai transportation

Thailand is a paradise on earth, but a bit far away from Scandinavia. You will need at least a few weeks off, a passport and open mind. Basically before leaving Finland you only need to buy the flight tickets, starting from 700 euros. You can get a room when you get there. I paid around 3 to 5 euros a night, sharing the room
with my friend. Of course, the luxury room costs much more, as always. Eating out is cheap too and Thai food is amazingly good!

It is easy to get around in the cities: you can take taxi, bus or tuk tuk (the traditional vehicle which is like a mix of a motorcycle and a cart.). Some tuk tuk drivers may sometimes be a little bit
cheeky, so negotiate about the price before you step into the vehicle. You can also rent a scooter, but please be careful: the traffic on that side of the globe is not as safe as here. Been there, done that: I had a motorcycle accident in Thailand. Luckily I survived! So, the safest solution is to take a bus or a train. The connections between the cities are well organized. But do remember that it is not Finland; vehicles may not be on time, buses may break down and weird things happen when you least expect them to, but after all, that is part of the adventure!

After the holiday you will reminisce about those lazy days chatting with locals on the streets, the taste of fresh pineapple in your mouth and those sunsets you watched while lying in a hammock on the beach. And even a short trip to Thailand will make you happy for a long time!

Thailand is such a lovely and lively place, that one article is just scratching the surface. Thus I say: Go there, discover it and you will fall for it!

Inside Finland Travel

It’s winter again!

Ski Resorts and other fun activities!
The biggest resorts are in northern and central Finland.For example, near to Kittilä there are a number of ski resorts near to eachother: Ylläs, Olos and Levi. Other well-known ski resorts such as Saariselkä, Luosto,Pyhä and Ruka are in Lapland.

In central Finlandthere are a few excellent ski resorts, including Tahko and Himos. The slopesare kept in excellent condition throughout the season, which begins in Novemberand lasts until May in Lapland and is little bit shorter in southern Finland.

Winter is fun in Finland

You will find most slopes – and the longest one with lights,at almost 3 kilometres long – in (sometimes very windy) Ylläs. Almost all of the biggest ski resorts say that they have the steepest slope, and while it is difficult to say where the steepest slope is actually located, in the biggest resorts you will find both steep and gently sloping hills. Ruka is said to be good place to start skiing because there are long and easy slopes in addition to a few steeper ones. According
the rumours the best after ski parties will be found in Levi, Ylläs and Ruka. The essential thing, when you choose where to go, is what you want to do: ski, snowboard or do other activities.

All of the ski resorts mentioned here offer different kind of activities in addition to downhill skiing. These activities may be, for example, reindeer safaris, snowmobile excursions and snowshoe hiking. All visitors will find something fun to do and there are activities for kids as well, including smaller hillsides just for smaller skiers and rooms where they can play games. No matter how old you are, you can take lessons in skiing and you can also hire equipment. And when you once learn to ski (and believe me it is like riding a bike: once you learn, you will never forget how to do it!) you can just buy a ski pass and go!

Reindeer safaris are also a lot of fun. Usually, the master harnesses the reindeers while you sit in the sleighs under warm reindeer fur and head for a route through a snowy landscape. After a while the reindeer are given a break, and you will enjoy a cup of coffee or hot chocolate while sitting by the campfire. During the day you will get lot of information about reindeer and the master is happy to answer to any questions you may have.

If you don’t feel like rolling in the snow you can always spend a day at the gym or have a massage. And of course you will find several saunas in all of the resorts. What would be better than a hot sauna after a day in the snow? It doesn’t get more Finnish than that!

You can wine and dine in the restaurants and if you feel like dancing there are several bars and nightclubs in the area. As a rule you can find a supermarket, souvenir shop, pharmacy, doctor, post office and liquor shop in the ski resorts and most of the staff are used to serving foreign guests in different languages, especially English. In spite of the long distance from Helsinki the transportation to these resorts is very well organized; you can catch a bus or a train to get there, or to savesome time, you can catch a flight to a nearby airport.

When you choose the ski resort you should pay attention to the location, the length of the slopes, and other activities provided. And don’t wait too long when you want to make a reservation for flights and accommodation, because the resorts are often quite busy especially during high season. And you may want to consider the cost of your holiday as well. The price level in the high seasons (during the school holidays) and weekends is relatively high. In general the resorts have good deals for the first snow at the beginning of the season.


Winter is fun in Finland

In addition to downhill skiing, cross-country skiing is a very popular sport all over the country. There are lots of excellent trails from which to choose. There are many places in Helsinki where you can ski and you don’t even have to own your own gear. For example in Paloheinä, which is the most poplar place to ski in Helsinki, the average skiing season runs from November to April and the tracks are anywhere from a few to ten kilometres long. And if you think that the skis are too slippery and you are afraid of losing your balance, you can always do some snowshoe walking!

Country skiing is a brilliant way to explore the winter landscape and a very good way to exercise your muscles, or just take it slow and enjoy the white landscape. After the trip into the nature (and making a few snow angels), you may want to warm yourself up with hot chocolate with a hint of mint liqueur.

The best thing about cross-country skiing is that you don’t even have to go to the ski resorts to do that, because there are trails everywhere. And more good news: the ski trails are free for everyone. The peak season for skiing is from January to March.

And after all of that white stuff, the most magical sights of Finnish winter are the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis. They are very common in northern Finland and occasionally you can even see them in Helsinki. Imagine a silent, dark night, the sky full of green and yellow colour. It is an amazing phenomenon that you should see at least once in your lifetime!