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Riot On – A must see Finnish documentary!!!

Since long time ago I wanted to post an article about one of my favorite Finnish productions ever made, the documentary Riot On! (2004).

I would reccommend Riot On! for many reasons. It is not only because it is a Finnish documentary and easy to follow because most of the lenght is spoken in English language, but because it is probably one of the funniest and best edited that I have ever seen in my life.

Riot On!

Besides, it talks about IT and mobile industry in Finland, where I work. Being honest, probably 95% of the foreign population in Finland came here for studies or due to a partner being Finnish, and many of those 95% end up working, even if it was not their pure background as it is my case, in IT industry, because among other reasons, there are not many other chances for foreigners in Finland, as most of the expatriated who have lived here for a few years know very well.

But although it will make the experience more enjoyable if you have lived in Finland for a few years and you have worked or currently work in an IT company, it is a documentary that can be seen by everybody, and it is almost impossible that will not provoke you a few laughs.

Mixing reality with fiction, the story of this Finnish company that went to the top and burnt the money it is a tragicomical example of people who were at the right place, but not at the right time. The founders of Riot On! were pioneers at many levels, and although their way of handling business was crazy, sometimes you can see that the thin line between being a genius or being a loser us… very thin!

The rythm is amazing, you do not feel bored during the interviews, due to the funny anecdotes and the catchy characters, especially the CEO Jann Wellmann who exhales real charisma.

As I said, you cannot take seriously 100% of what it is narrated there, because the same people behind Riot On! are the ones directing the documentary. Take it more like an exercise where little doses of fiction ornate the reality, because Riot On! really existed, and the core of the story really happened (unfortunately, we have not been able to locate any copy of the spicy DVD that supposedly was recorded at some crazy mixed sauna parties as it is stated there…).

Riot On!

Riot On!, although taken to the extreme, gives a good example of how the Finnish society is. People who look very serious at the office space can be passing out on the floor a few hours later after a crazy sauna party, and people who seem the most serious in the universe can turn doing some amazing behaviors… As I said, working myself in IT for a few years, I know that once from the inside, you see that not everybody is so hard worker and responsible as it seems for the outer world. That your boss is dissappeared for a whole day with no explanation is nothing uncommon in Finnish offices, for just putting a small example, and that happens when people are not calling sick leave days to fight the hangover after a previous night with too much booze in the mix…

On the other hand, Finns have a special talent to connect with the needs of the people in the digital era. If nowadays is true that Nokia is not going through their best time, take a look at Angry Birds, the most popular mobile phone game created by a company called Rovio in… yeah, you guessed right, Finland!

If you like good and funny documentarios, Riot On! is for you. And if you have some connection with Finland and its strong IT industry, this is definitely something you cannot miss!

Riot On! – Trailer

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A walk in Helsinki – Photo series 2

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Toni & Mickey in Suomiland – Nightclub queue

Toni & Mickey

Toni & Mickey

Toni & Mickey

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A-Team of Finland – The Simpsons

It must be one representative of the Swedish speaking population in Finland…

A-Team of Finland – The Simpsons

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A walk in Helsinki – Photo series 1

Being just the proud owner of a new Canon Powershot SX210 camera, I have decided that I will start a new series of posts showing my random shoots during my walks all over the capital area (I hope to expand later to other places I will visit). So here are the first ones, taken today during this wonderful sunny sunday:

And I saw a silver ball in the snow

Sneaky cat

The Estonian connection

Where the sea freezes

Finnish ducks like beer

Keep your shoes clean

Aliens are here!


Metro stop at Ruoholahti

Stay golden!

Dogs not welcome

Facilities ready for emergencies

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Ronald McDonald kidnapped from Ruoholahti

Sometimes reality is able to overcome fiction. This happened again at McDonalds restaurant in Ruoholahti a few days ago, where some people stole the statue of Ronald McDonald. I happen to know this McDonalds very well, becasue my office is just located in front of it, and often I stop by to grab something to eat (yes, I like fast food, and I am not ashamed to recognize it).

Some hours later, the kidnappers uploaded this video in Youtube. What do you think that will be the destiny of the poor Ronald?:

Ronald kidnapped from McDonalds at Ruoholahti

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Cool video if you like videogames: Pixels

Very nice video that I discovered today if you like videogames history. By the way, it will open in Berlin during this month a museum dedicated just to videogames, a must see if you visit the nice German city!

Pixels by Patrick Jean”

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Guitar hero “Russian style”

Because not everybody can be Slash…

Guitar hero “Russian style”

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Do not miss this video: Danny MacAskill – “Way Back Home”

I discovered by chance this video a couple of days ago, and I cannot take it out of my mind. The photography of Scottish landscapes is amazingly beautiful, the songs by The Jezabels and Loch Lomond are superb, I have been listening to them again and again, and the tricks from Danny on his bike are amazing to watch. A must see!

Danny MacAskill – Way Back Home

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The awful Estonian customer service and an angry Spaniard

I have experienced it myself many times while living in Estonia (and sadly, also in Finland), and you can read the same opinion if you visit most of the expats blogs around: Estonian customer service sucks big time.

Usually, I could let it go. I would say that ok, it comes with the country, with the past history attached to Soviet Union where people did not need to be kind to the customers, with the coldness of the Estonian people… But what the fuck! This time I am going to write something about it, because everything has a limit.

Yesterday, after assisting to a wonderful housewarming party held by an American and an English friend, I visited with some of the people a bar in Tartu called Illegaard (that happens to be owned also by another Englishman). This bar is actually a wonderful place, nice to sit and talk, with a fuzzball (I am addicted to the game) table and different events through the week. I have to say clearly that this entry does not go against the bar per se, but against the attitude of some Estonian people when giving customer service.

The point is that I went close to the desk where the waitresses were serving, and I was not even going to order any drink, but just some coins to play fuzzball later. I saw some people waiting on the right side of the desk, and an empty space on the left, so I did what a normal human being would do in most of the bars in the world, to stand waiting for my turn in the empty space.

I noticed after a few minutes that the other people were served before me. I shut up my mouth and waited patiently. I know how the philosophy of the waiters and waitresses is in these countries, if they believe you arrived later, they will ignore you until they consider that it is your turn, totally different from Spain where everybody waves to them in a packed venue to catch their attention and get a drink (it is the jungle law there). But once again, I accept I am not in Spain, and that the people on the right could have preference, so I keep on waiting.

Bad Customer Service

I keep on waiting and waiting, but started to realize that I was never served after 15 minutes and new people coming were served before me. One of these new people was a friend of mine. I just commented that it seemed the waitresses did not want to serve me, and one of them, because believe me, in this country you will always find a smart ass, told me that there was a queue. I did not insult her or insult anybody, but I am Spaniard and sorry, we discuss things when we do not consider them fair. I said that I did not see anywhere written to wait in the queue, and even though, I waited patiently for long minutes. Was that a kind of punishment that I should wait 1 hour for breaking the “rules” and not waiting on the other side of the desk?

The answer of the waitress was that I should relax or go out of the bar. Yeah… she threatened me to be kicked out of the bar, ladies and gentlemen! I was not wasted, not insulting, not creating trouble, but because I opened my mouth and said that it was not the way things should be done, I became a “persona non grata”… I suppose that if you are a Latino person, you could understand my pain. We come from a culture where we TALK and gesticulate to make our point. In Estonia, that seems to be the land of the smart ass people, because everybody seemed to know better than you about everything, you can die of frustration while they talk to you in a cold tone like if you would be a little child who has behaved bad for opening the mouth and telling your view on things…

I have experienced awful customer service when buying a bus ticket in a R-Kioski, when they returned very late my lost suitcase after a flight and they phoned me in a tone that seemed like it would almost be my fault to have it lost, when waiting for a meal to arrive in a restaurant for hours… but everything has a limit. I have news for you, Estonian people who attend clients with an angry face like if you would be sucking a lemon, you are in European Union nowadays, and foreign people expect more of a human behaviour from you. And if you do not like it, go and quit your job. You can always go to a farm to masturbate animals, that surely will be much more grateful clients.

My dear waitress, I honestly do not care about your low or high wages, the drunkards who disturb you every night, if you split up with your boyfriend or girlfriend the previous night or if you did not pass an exam. As a youngster, I did a lot of shitty jobs myself to pay my studies where I had to deal with customers face to face, and a smile and politeness were the rule nr. 1. Maybe the sentence “The client is always right” does not apply in Estonia, but it happens to be true in most of the other European countries. I happen to be an editor of a small online magazine who writes here just part time as a hobby, but I could perfectly have been the editor of Lonely Planet looking for the coolest places in Tartu, and after you fucked up my mood that night, my dear waitress, your establishment would have lost hundreds of potential customers. Would your boss be happy about it?

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Visiting Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania

Taking advantage of the long Easter weekend (yes, miracle, Friday was a national holiday in Estonia. Not that you have many chances through the year of enjoying long week ends in Estonia…) I decided to visit Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, and the only country in the Baltic-Scandinavian region where I had not been yet.

The trip was long, 4 hours by bus to Riga and another 4 from Riga to Vilnius, but worthy. My Finnish friend Ilkka flew from Helsinki to join me, and there we met at Old Town Hostel. I must say that the double room we had was excellent. Actually, one could feel like having a hotel room, because it was separated from the rest of the hostel, and we had our own key to go in and out whenever we wanted withouth disturbing anybody. The price was fair, so I reccommend it.


We wandered during the weekend mostly around the old town, so I cannot say much of the rest of the city. But I liked a lot what I saw there. The city is clean, the buildings are in good shape, and the atmosphere is charming. The nightlife was sadly quite dead, due to many people having escaped from the city for the holidays, but even though, we found a couple of bars where to have fun. We settled our operational base for the night especially at the University Pub. But during those days there, most probably there were more people going to church than to bars. And it is amazing the amount of churches you can find in a few square metres! In every corner there is a church in old Vilnius! Even if you are not a religious person, you cannot less than admire the special atmosphere that this gives to the city.

About Lithuanian people, I must say that in general they were pretty friendly, even better than expected. Girls actually smile you easily at the bars, and are very eager to have a conversation (I would say that maybe more friendly than Estonian girls, who usually give you the look of “do not disturb me foreigner, I prefer to talk with the local guy who looks like a retired boxer” when going out at night. But also Lithuanian guys (ok, those who are not 2 metres high and look like serial killers) were quite friendly, and we had the chance to chat with quite many of them while sharing some beers.


As a final remark, do not make the mistake to confuse Lithuanian language with Russian language (It happened to me once, sorry!!!). In Vilnius, only around 9% of the population is Russian speaker, and the local Lithuanians do not take very well the comparisons. In that sense, they are probably less welcoming than in the other Baltic capitals, where Russian speakers are more widely spread among the local population.

If you still have not visited Vilnius and are thinking about a possible weekend destination, do not think it twice. Prices are affordable, the city looks good and pretty safe, the people are friendly… and the women pretty ;)

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Tartu in Spanish

For those of you who are Spanish speakers, here I send you a link from a Spanish website called “El Blog del Becario” that has a section where they feature Spanish people living around the world. It was my turn some weeks ago, so you can see some pictures of Tartu, the city where I live at the present moment, and get to know a bit more about Estonia and my life there. Enjoy it!


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Der Schlangemann

My Finnish friend Ilkka visited me last week to drive to Riga to see Rammstein concert, and when we were back in Tartu, he showed me the most hilarious German video I have ever seen! (Ok, actually it is made by Swedish).

I introduce you the almighty Schlangemann!!!

Advisory: It contains explicit sexual content.

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Clubbing night in Tartu

I went out yesterday night with an English friend in Tartu. We started the night at Club Tallinn, which brings me good memories of my student years in the city, when we used to go there pretty often on Wednesdays with the other students from the dormitory.

Club girls

Some thoughts came to my mind after last night: first of all that I should try to go to other clubs where people are older. I was feeling like in a kindergarten there, and it is not that cool when everybody around looks like 6-7 years younger that you. Luckily, my English friend is even older than me…

Secondly, that I do not like that stupid rule that most of the clubs have that many nights (like yesterday) men have to pay the entrance fee while is free for the women. It is a much extended practice in Estonia, and for me, it is plain discrimination. I understand the reasons of the managers to do that: so pretty girls would go to the club, and then guys are attracted by them so they will come too and spend more money on drinks. But if we want an equalitarian society, that should apply to everything. I have not read any single voice that has been raised against these kinds of things in the media, and I think it is intolerable, but nobody seems to care. What would happen if next week, in the cafeteria down my work the meals would be free for men but women had to pay? A bunch of feminist associations would come immediately in rage… but well, this seems to be the way it is here, and we can take it or leave it…

Third, that the drinks are too expensive. We are talking about a club located in the same building that a student dormitory, with very young audience. Come on guys, having to pay 65 crowns for a small glass of rum with coke is not cool, even more now in crisis times. But take also into account that in Estonia there seem to be a big culture of “showing off”. Estonian guys will pay the drinks in the club, and dress like if they would live in Melrose Place, and for the rest of the week they will be eating pasta at home with no money to do shopping. That happens when MTV culture collides with low wages…

Beer and coins in Zavood

And in general, I realized that I do not like much the social dynamics of nightclubs in Estonia. True, for a man like me, it is very nice to watch 100 hot young girls dressed to kill around. But after a while, you realize that it is not really that fun. People are not very accessible to talk to, everybody is looking at everybody, but nobody interacts with others than the old friends. Girls just walk around showing their latest acquired mini dress, but they have a sign that seems to say “look but not touch”, with a very cold attitude, and boys are not really very friendly either for a conversation, and not very subtle when hitting on girls. Actually, the few times I could have a nice conversation in a club in Estonia usually take place in the smoking room. So if you want to have a bit of social interaction, you will have to sacrifice the health of your lungs.

I bet that at the end of the night, 95% of the people who went to the club left with the same group of friends, and without having made any new acquaintances. At least, I remember in my younger years when visiting a club in Spain that at the end of the night you could see many new couples around the corner kissing. I am a defender of “make love, not war”, so I find that much better than fighting in the streets. But in the club, you could hardly see anybody making out or having real fun in a conversation. Everybody dressed up, everybody expecting somebody else to make a move…nothing happening, boring. And because of the price of drinks being so high, most of them, being just young students, could not even allow themselves to have a glass in their hands.

On a more positive side of the night, I have to say that after that, I visited Genialistide Club for first time in my life, and I liked the atmosphere there very much. I actually do not know why I have not gone there before. I ended the night in Zavood, another mythical bar in Tartu, and I can say that in both bars I have in a few minutes many more interesting conversations with new people I was introduced that in all the previous hours at the nightclub. The usual crowd in those bars are much more relaxed and open minded, and although of course there can be some asshole like in everywhere, it is usually easy to have a nice talk while playing a fuzzball game or just ordering a beer on the desk. Not mentioning that prices are really much cheaper there.

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Estonia is not only about cheap booze, easy women and gambling.

I am reading nowadays The Girl Who Played With Fire, the second book of Millenium trilogy, the worldwide phenomena written by the Swedish (and unfortunately deceased) journalist Stieg Larsson. In this book, there are continuous references to Tallinn, the Estonian capital, as a source for prostitutes and drugs that are transported into Sweden.

A couple of days ago, I took again the ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn. Those ferries are daily crowded by mostly Finnish passengers that make a break of 1 or 2 days to visit Estonia and buy massive amounts of alcoholic drinks, being the prices much cheaper than in Finland. This trend has become so popular that has literally boosted Estonia as one of the European countries at the top ranking of selling alcoholic beverages. But the visit of the Finnish “cousins” is received with mixed feelings by the Estonians. On one hand, obviously it is good for the economy. On the other hand, it reminds me of what happens in Spain year after year with the British tourists: they misbehave badly, cursing, breaking things and puking around the corner; a behavior that they would hardly do in their native country. No wonder that for many Estonians, Finnish tourists have become “persona non grata” here.

Estonian Beer

I also remember 4 years ago the orientation speeches that foreign students received at Tartu University. I was there as exchange student from Tampere University for one semester. A female Finnish student emphasized to a crowded room that men should be careful and use protection in sexual relations, because Estonian girls were well known to be not “very faithful” (yes, she literally said that).
I am not the best example for researching sexual behaviors of females in both countries, but well, after a few years living both in Finland and Estonia, and talking to many male foreigners, I can tell you that most of them could have something to say about the Finnish women as not exactly either an example of chastity or faithful behavior with their partners. Actually, in a recent study, Finnish women were heading the ranking of one night stands around Europe:

I know that these kinds of studies are usually twisted, but yet, you can always try yourself in the Finnish nightlife and see the results… So it seems that it is easier to accuse the neighbor instead of taking a look at what happens in your own borders. It is dangerous if Finnish people start to catalogue these behaviors like a “manifestation of the women´s power to decide how to enjoy their sexuality” or like “morally incorrect” depending on what side of the Baltic Sea they happen. Actually, I can say that, yes, it is true that Estonian girls like dressing more feminine than for example Finnish girls, but at the same time, most of Estonian women I have talked to turned to be witty, friendly and down to Earth. Not really the stereotype of woman that could go trolling for a foreigner with a wallet full of euro (although unfortunately, my wallet is usually pretty empty so I could not even test that in the field).

The point that annoys me is the distorted view that still prevails in Scandinavian countries towards Estonia. For many of their citizens, Estonia is just a country where you can get cheap booze, easy girls and go gambling. I do not deny that you can find those things in Estonia, but there is much more than that.

It would be worth a combined effort by Estonian government and Scandinavian governments to change that stereotypical view of Estonia and promote all the many nice activities that this country has to offer. Meanwhile, Tallinn will continue being named in best-selling books as a cradle for prostitution or a place where to buy cheap vodka, and not a destination to see amazing cultural events like a Metallica concert or the Ice Skating European Championships. And I do not think that is the best kind of marketing that Estonia can have to attract more visitors…