Articles Misc

Finns know how to gamble!

Finnish people love gambling. That is a fact. You can see slot machines in every supermarket and the casinos are always full of people. For many young Finnish people, playing onlinevhas become their number 1 hobby or even their most steady source of economical income. It is notorious the cool temperament of Finnish in their everyday life, not easy for a foreign person to read their thoughts. That behavior extrapolated to gambling makes them really ferocious opponents that mix an attitude cold as ice together with a determination hot as a sauna.

Among those players, there are some professional poker players ranked among the best in the world. Probably the top Finnish player is Patrick “Pate” Antonius who resides nowadays in Monaco and has earn more than 5 million dollars during his career, having won among other titles the European Poker Tour.

Sara Chafak

It is also common for some players to alternate playing both live and online tournaments. That is the case of Juha Helppi who started working as a dealer and combines online with real tournaments, being the only Finn who has won the WTP.

One video that has gone viral lately is the one showing ex Miss Finland Sara Chafak during her participation in the Shark Cage poker TV show held in Barcelona that features celebrities and professional poker players battling for a price of 1 million dollars. Following the tradition of aggressiveness that Finnish poker players tend to show, she was able to win with an amazing bluff to pro player Ronnie Bardah while the other players and the audience got astonished by the performance of the beautiful lady.

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The Finnish Dream: Winning the Lottery

Every Saturday night hundreds of thousands Finns gather around their TV sets for the national Lottery draw. The lottery is organized by the national betting company Veikkaus and it’s quite simply called “Lotto”. Lotto has been played since the end of 1970 and it has created around 1 500 millionaires along the years (large share of those naturally during the time before euro). Nowadays there’s also the Viking Lotto, drawn on Wednesdays and played also in other Nordic countries and the in Baltic states. Another popular newcomer is the Eurojackpot, played in altogether 16 European countries. The largest jackpot in the history of Eurojackpot was won by a Finnish player based in Espoo, in September 2014 – 61.1 million euros!

Of course there are other ways for Finns to chase their millionaire dream. Finland really offers only one true land-based casino, based in Helsinki. Taking this into account, it’s no wonder that Finnish casino players direct their interest to the Internet when looking for gaming options. And that naturally multiplies the available options. Problem is that it’s hard to know which online casino are not only reliable but which offer services tailored specially for the Finnish market. There’s a number of so called netticasino sites offering useful information to those who want to try their luck, like for example There are plenty of different types of lottery games online, too, if lottery really is the way to get your fix of excitement.

Lottery winning

And although Finland is pretty restrictive country when it comes down to gambling, the Finnish authorities have at least so far taken pretty relaxed or at least passive stand for playing on foreign-based sites. Finland is ranked pretty much on top positions when talking about press freedom, freedom of speech and related topics. Blocking access for legally operating websites wouldn’t really fit into that image, and that’s one reason such drastic measures haven’t been taken in regards to accessing online casinos from Finland.

There’s a modern Finnish proverb: “On lottovoitto syntyä Suomeen” which roughly translates as “Being born into Finland is like winning in the lottery”. Whether that now might be true or not depends on your perspective. But one thing is certain: Finns love their lotteries.

Articles Misc

Jari Litmanen – A Finnish Football Legend

Jari Litmanen, the son of two footballers, carried on the family tradition in style. Litmanen’s father, Olavi played for Reipas and as a Finnish international player. His mother also played for Reipas at the highest level in women’s soccer in Finland.

In 1987, at the age of 16, Litmanen played for Reipas for the first time in what was the top division in Finland at the time, Mestaruusarja. Litmanen’s international football career began in 1989 and only ended in 2010. Between 1996 and 2008, he was the captain of choice for the Finnish national football team. In November 2003, while he was still playing professionally, the Football Association of Finland picked Litmanen as the best Finnish footballer of the previous 50 years.

Over the years, Litmanen has represented a number of clubs both in Finland and abroad. In Finland, he played with Reipas, MyPa, Lahti and HJK. Abroad, he played with Barcelona, Ajax, Hansa Rostrock, Malmö, and Liverpool.

Jari Litmanen statue

In the 1993 – 94 season, Litmanen scored 26 goals, the top-scoring player in the league. In 1995, the midfielder made his name on an international level when he was playing with the Amsterdam team, Ajax, and won the Champions League.

Having started his international career in 1989, and playing into 2010 when he played with Finland against South Korea on 19 January 2010. Litmanen, also known as “Kuningas” or “The King” had earned the distinction of playing professional football in four different decades.

The King was voted as the Finnish Footballer of the Year in 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, and 2000. He was voted as the Dutch Footballer of the Year in 1993, and as the Finnish Sports Personality of the Year in 1995.

With all these football achievements under his belt, Litmanen is also the face associated with the Betsson sports betting site at this time. Finland has also erected a statue of Litmanen in October 2010. He is the first team sport player in Finland to receive a statue. The statue stands at the place where Litmanen’s career began in the 1970s, at Kisapuisto (Lahti).

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Rautatientori: the throbbing heart of Helsinki.

If you are a new visitor in the Finnish capital or just basically if you live in Helsinki, it is almost impossible that you spend many days without your steps guiding you around the Railway Station Square or “Rautatientori” as it is called in Finnish. I still remember the first time I stepped there and I was naively surprised to find many of the street signals written in both Finnish and Swedish languages.

Rautatientori is the spot where most of the foreign people get the real first contact with Helsinki, as trains from St. Petersburg arrive there as well as buses from Vantaa airport. Added to that, it is also the main point where all the local trains connect to destinations in Helsinki and nearby cities Espoo and Vantaa, as well as the most transited metro station and also the departing point of many bus lines on both sides of the Station building and also the trams that allow you more slowly and pleasantly to have a great view of the city.

Although relatively a new building, opening its doors in 1982, the Helsinki Railway station is also one of the most recognizable architectural work in Finland due to the unmistakeable two pair of statues holding spherical lamps that decorate the facade outside and that are widespread used in commercials and parodies, giving the station a unique “Gotham City alike” touch.

Helsinki Rautatientori

But not only the station itself is worthy to mention in the square. The visitor can pretty much find anything interesting to do in every corner of the station square. Around in a few meters the walker can see and visit the National Finnish Theatre and the Ateneum Museum if you are into arts and culture. For those who like tempting the luck live apart from gambling online in sites like, the Casino Helsinki is also located in the Railway Square surrounded by many interesting bars and restaurants to enjoy good food and relaxing drinks. And on winter there is also the possibility to practice ice skating in the ice rink located there.

Shopping is also pretty much just something that you can do walking a few meters away from the station, as you can find shopping malls just in front of the station and a few meters away like the infamous Sokos, Forum or Stockmann. The station has also a lot of R Kioski where travelers can load their travel cards and buy snacks and drinks apart from different fast food chain restaurants to have a tasty quick bite before continuing the journey. The main office of Helsinki Transportation Office is located also in Rautatientori, downstairs near the Metro entrance, and if you are a permanent resident of Helsinki you can get a transport card that can make your live much more easier to move around the city.

As you see, Rautatientori has just condensed almost everything that a visitor needs for enjoying the stay in Helsinki. Although we advise you just to visit as many areas as possible, do not waste your chance to investigate all the adventures that the emblematic Railway Station and its square have awaiting for you!

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What you always wanted to know about public bus transportation in Helsinki (and never dared to ask)

Written by Antonio Diaz

So here you are! You just arrived to the capital of Finland. It can be for studying a few months or a few years, for visiting a friend, a relative or a lover, just for a few hours before continuing your trip somewhere else, a new job, a permanent life here… In any case, once you step out of the airport, bus or train station, there is a lively city out there to discover and probably some distance to your destination.

Taxi prices in Helsinki can be considered everything but cheap, tram is nice for a ride but extremely slow, train network is improving but still insufficient… so there they are! Painted in white and blue, reaching all neighborhoods of the big capital area and running almost at any time of the day and night: the public buses!

FREE! Magazine gives you 20 helpful and funny tips so from the first time you step on a bus in Helsinki, you can feel at ease like a local!

Helsinki public bus

1. The main Helsinki Public Transportation office is located at the heart of the city in the metro station down the Railway Station. If you will stay for long time, the easiest way to travel is getting a transport card that can be loaded with just a selected amount of money or monthly. And they allow you to choose your favorite color, how cool is that!

2. Students (holding Finnish student cards) get half the price when loading the transportation card. In general, they always get 50% of discount traveling around Finland. So find any excuse to start or never leave your studies! And second saving money tip, line 615 will also take you to and from the Vantaa airport to Helsinki centre much cheaper than the buses provided by the flight companies.

3. So now you are at the bus stop ready for your first bus trip. Congratulations! Many around the city count with a digital board where you can easily check the minutes remaining for the bus to arrive, controlled by GPS. But watch out, although they usually work like charm, they are not always accurate. Technology is not always an exact science! Just in case, you will also find paper printed timetables in every bus stop.

4. Buses are VERY punctual in Helsinki. If it is written that will leave at 15:38, it will leave at 15:38. So be punctual to be on time at the stop. Of course as good Murphy’s Law, when some foreign friends come to visit you and you brag about the great punctuality of the buses, then the bus will be exceptionally late and you and your friends will freeze your asses at -25 degrees waiting half an hour for the next one…

5. There is a very easy to use mobile application called “Reittiopas” that will show you the fastest route on your phone when you just type your destination address.

6. At winter while you wait for the bus with your nose getting frozen, you would expect at least a small shelter in every bus stop that would protect you from that hard snowstorm falling, right? Nope, forget about it, a simple post marking the stop point will suffice and you will find no cover in the middle of the forest from the snow trying to bury you alive. Thankfully as we pointed before, the buses are punctual, so try to be on time, but do not try to be too early when it is minus 30 degrees out there and it is snowing like there is no tomorrow!

Helsinki public bus

7. The non-written rule while waiting the bus is to keep as much distance as possible from the other people waiting. Do not expect a clear organization to form the queue; it does not matter if you were the first one waiting for the bus. People do not mind trying to enter from any direction once the bus approach, so sharpen your skill to foresee the exact spot where the bus will stop!

8. Do not worry if you do not speak perfect Finnish when trying to communicate with the bus driver. Many of them are actually foreigners and in general almost all of them can speak good English. In any case, if you do not have to buy the ticket directly from them, your only interaction is placing your card in front of the reader at the entrance of the bus and, optionally, telling “moi” to the driver. It is up to the good or bad mood of the driver to answer back…

9. Remember what we say about keeping as much space as possible from the other passengers while waiting the bus? Well, now when you step inside the bus, remember one of the most important rules if you do not want to assist to public suicides inside the vehicle: you NEVER sit close to another person as far as there are 2 free seats in another row of the bus. We repeat, NEVER. If you do so, God will erase all the kitten photos from Facebook and Swedish will replace Finnish as the official language of the country. Do not say later we did not tell you!

10. If the bus is full, there will be 3 or more people around you using their mobile phones. If those people are teenage girls, be sure 100% of them will be using their mobile phones.

11. Just because that boy and that girl sitting together in front of you have not exchanged a single word during the whole bus trip, it does not mean they are not happily dating.

12. Alcohol consumption inside the bus is prohibited. However, the rule gets more relaxed during the weekend, depending also how strict the bus driver is. If you do not make a mess and drink sneakily at the bottom of the bus, and you manage not to puke around, everything should be fine. But remember not to smoke inside the bus that will end up no other way than hated by all other passengers and with your bones quickly thrown away outside the bus.

13. Since last couple of years, now if you hold a monthly transport card, you do not need to pay any extra fee for night tickets. A very convenient change, taking into account the extremely expensive prices of taxis in the city. The down side is that it has killed quite a few opportunities to flirt at night with that stranger who wanted to share a cab or was looking at you with puppy eyes to help him/her to pay the night fee ticket.

14. Do not expect that the passenger sitting close to you who needs you to stand aside to exit will communicate this verbally to you. Listening to a small cough, watching him/her punch the stop button or observing the beginning of his body movement separating the ass from the seat should be enough for you to understand that you need to move. Who said verbal communication is needed inside a bus?

Helsinki public bus

15. If there are teenagers sitting close to you in a bus and they happen to be of the talkative kind, you will hear the word “vittu” at least 3 times every 30 seconds.

16. If the driver forgets to stop in the requested stop or open the door, passengers will patiently wait a few seconds before (maybe) managing the braveness to shout at him for the mistake.

17. When there is a sudden break due to an almost accident on the road, you will notice clearly the dissatisfaction of the other passengers listening only to their grunting.

18. If there is an old lady (mummo in Finnish) just trying to punch the transport card in the system, you will always have to wait 1 more minute than normal to enter the bus until the driver finally takes her out of her misery and punches the transport card for her.

19. School children also use public buses to move around the city under the surveillance of their teachers. This probably would be a nightmarish thought for any other adult passenger. However, they usually behave well and make not much noise or hassle. It must be due to the fact that Finnish children do not usually sing in the bus when going on excursions… They wait until they become teenagers to join a heavy metal band.

20. Some people even shout “thanks” before jumping out of the bus, although is not always required. Be nice and show kindness to the driver. You arrive safely and cheaply to your destination! Until the next bus ride!

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Beauty and the Beast – The true story of Estonian men and women

Written by Gunnar Sorensen

Gunnar Sorensen is a Danish comedian who has been living in Estonia for a couple of years. Here offers exclusively for FREE! Magazine a pick of what you can find in his blog, treating with sense of humor his views on Estonian women and men:

A friend came to visit me in Tallinn and asked very honestly while in a nightclub “Why are there so many prostitutes in here”!!! Before you think we were in a very seedy place, we were not. What he was simply referring to is that Estonian woman are far more attractive than their male counterparts.

So why is it like this? Well for every 100 men in Estonia there are 119 women, rising to almost 130 in the capital city Tallinn, comparing to 1/1 in Sweden. This phenomenon creates a high demand and competition for available men.

So how beautiful are the women? Well Estonia has the highest number of international models per capita than any nation in the world. When walking the streets of Tallinn you will not just notice the beauty of the women, but also the sheer number of beauty salons created to cater to their need.

Estonian Women

So guys, sound like the perfect country? Well it gets better. All those hours you spent in the gym, that funky new haircut, the expensive suit etc…! In Estonia you don’t need that!! Well with the vast surplus of women that classic image of the man chasing the women has been reversed. So you can put on your comfortable sports trousers and that favourite old hooded jumper and still get the girl!!

This lack of effort needed by Estonian men to get a girlfriend is summed up by this pick up line I heard an Estonian man say one evening “Do you like having sex with men?”

Not only is the girl hotter and easier to get with, you know that night out you want to go on with your friends, guess what? She will let you go!!

I know you are asking, before I quit my job and get on the ferry, what’s the catch?
Well did you know that Estonian men live on average just 69 years, the lowest in the whole of the EU! A large part of the reason behind this is typified in the popular joke ¨ That awkward moment when an Estonian man is sober”. Considering all the attractive girls and all the fun you can have, it sounds like a reasonable sacrifice right??? Maybe not….
That idea of the perfect wife, family and home you had in your mind it is not likely to happen in Estonia. Present figures show that in Tallinn alone 80% of high school students are living in single parent families.

Akarusa Yami

Although us men would almost certainly unite in saying having a few drinks with our friends would be preffered to putting up those shelves for the mother in law. It is now clear that our Scandinavian women are just helping us to become better men and healthier, husbands and fathers.

For those who want to know more about me and how I came to this conclusion. I am a Danish citizen who has been living in Tallinn, Estonia for the past 2 years. I work in the Finance sector, but since arriving in Estonia it is the psychological aspect of the people that has most interested me.

I noticed almost instantly the cold and serious nature of Estonians, however what struck me must profoundly was the countries lack of laughter. With no real comedy shows on TV and no internationally known comedian. I found out very quickly that the only people trying to make Estonia laugh were foreigners.

Although the humour of my blog has encountered some negativity in the Estonian press. It would be hard to find a comedian who has not experienced that at some point. It is our duty to use humour to test the boundaries and bring those avoided or controversial topics in to daily conversation.

For more humour about Estonian men come and visit my blog:

Articles Concerts Interviews Misc Music

Breaking the Surface Tour: Bringing talent together!

Bringing the Surface tour is an interesting project that was surfing by bus for 10 days around the Nordic countries until arriving in Helsinki, the Finnish capital.

On head of this is Danish composer and musician Jonas Andreasen together with Finnish singer Sini Koskelainen and a bunch of talented musicians that belong to their “Near Life Experience” project that headed on this adventure from Aarhus in Denmark through Norway, Sweden and Finland, interacting with other local bands, gathering musical ideas, and offering an exciting show full of music, visual effects and dance, brought by the Finnish dancer Nadja Alve.

Near Life Experience

We met the crew just before their final performance at Gloria Cultural Centre in the heart of Helsinki. After 10 days on the road, they were tired and dreaming of a hot shower, plus it was not the easy end when part of the band got sick with food poisoning. However, they were full of illusion to perform in a city that Andreas recognized loves, having lived and studied in Helsinki. Before the local band Elifentree would warm up the atmosphere with some amazing skills by his drummer, it was time to sit with Andreas and drummer Frej Lesner so they could tell us more about how the tour went:

Thanks for your time! Can you tell us a bit more, Andreas, how the project to go on the road for these 10 days came up and how you met Sini (Koskelainen)?

Jonas: I was studying in Aarhus and Sini came there, we heard each other play, and I had a chance to play with her quarter. We just liked each other’s stuff and energy. I wanted to write music with a bigger group but I had difficulties to find a singer, so when I met Sini, it was a super good connection. That is how it goes started, and then we wrote music together and I arranged everything. We put the band together and we did a project together that was a big success in Aarhus. That is how the band got started. Now she is living in Helsinki and I am living in Berlin and all the musicians are in Aarhus. We received the support of a cultural organization there and we are glad to get any help, because it is difficult to tour with a relatively unknown band.

Did you know the other musicians beforehand?

Jonas: They come from all over Denmark, except of the trombone player who is Swedish. Very talented musicians that I was lucky to be able to handpick. Here is Frej, the drummer, one of the first I asked to join the band. So far we had been playing only in Denmark, so this is a big step for us.

You were in other countries sharing the stage with other bands. How was the experience to meet other musicians?

Frej: It was great, I heard some bands with some great musicians. Also this band in its own, it is great to play with this band, they are all great musicians. There is no hiding when you have to play, you have to take control of the music. And we also get to know new places to play. It is very difficult when you are sitting in Aarhus to know for example where to play in Helsinki. So it is great to expand the network.

Near Life Experience

So how is to be on the road traveling by bus for 10 days? What other activities did you do… did you get much sleep time?

Jonas: We would mostly sleep when the bus was driving, but actually not so much sleep. Everyone has been sick also. But well, this is also part of it, it is something you have to do. But it has been so great musically, we have got so much, a good response from all the audience. When we arrive in a new town, we hang around the city, and then a lot of hours in the venue doing the soundcheck, getting something to eat, doing the show… and then on the road again.

They always say that Finland is different than the other Scandinavian countries. Now that you got the experience to tour around all of them, what is your feeling?

Frej: Well, just the language itself is different. It is kind of a mixture of Russian and Nordic culture, somehow.
Jonas: I have been living in Aarhus and Stockholm and Helsinki. I really love Finland so much, feel close to the Finns and to Helsinki. It has less of the Scandinavian “stiffness” that we have in Denmark and Sweden.

What people can expect from the show tonight? What are the backbone ideas behind the show?

Jonas: I would tell them to open their hearts and ears and eyes. It is a mixture, we try to have a big visual side of what we do musically. That is the idea behind the dancing of Nadja. We have some music that some people say that is hard to listen to, a mix of jazz and modern language with a lot of improvisation. Giving some visual expression really help people to get the music and get into it. A lot of people say that it was great and they had never heard anything like that.

Near Life Experience

So do musicians get a lot of freedom to improvise?

Frej: Well, for me as a drummer, I feel that everything I play is something I have invented myself, but of course always on the frame of what Jonas want.

Jonas: I write a lot, but I write for certain people I know very well. So I know or at least I try to write what people need to play. There are places where people do a lot of free style, but of course I need to bring some overview. To know the direction and why something is happening right now.

What are your future plans after you finish this tour?

Jonas: We have the EP with 3 songs and we are releasing a full album, already recorded, this fall. So many things going on!

For coming back, will you go back by bus or flying?

Both: Flying! Enough bus for a while!

Articles Misc

Top 5 Gambling Locations

Gambling holidays are incredibly popular, with people traveling far and wide to splash some cash and feel the thrill and adrenaline that comes with the roulette wheel. While the option to stay at home and use sites like Gaming Club is there, it doesn’t have the same feel as being there in person.

Rather than just list all the American gambling locations, the list is as international as possible, to offer a whole range of gambling hotspots, some might even surprise you!

5. Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

It’s impossible to think about a gambling holiday without considering Las Vegas; it’s the most famous gambling location in the world. If you’ve never been it’s worth going, with iconic casino’s, miniature world landmarks, 24 hour gambling action, Elvis Presley impersonators, and all the shows you could ever want to see – it really is a testament to human entertainment. It’s not number one on the list because that’s too obvious, I wanted to show what the rest of the world has to offer, rather than just America.

Las Vegas

4. Aruba, Caribbean

While you might be looking for a gambling holiday, you’ll still want other things to do between trips to the casino, and what better way to spend a day than lounging in the Caribbean sun, on one of the finest beaches in the world, with a rum based cocktail in hand? After a day of relaxing you’ll enjoy the adrenalin rush of the casino even more. With some spectacular casinos like Allegro Aruba Beach and Crystal Casino, you’ll never spend long looking for somewhere to spend the night and earn some chips.

3.Sun City, South Africa

South Africa is becoming more and more popular, and while it might not be an obvious choice for a gambling vacation, casinos are quickly spreading throughout South Africa, with Sun City being the number one place for gambling. Luxury hotels and fine restaurants back up the casinos of Sun City, they even have shows that match up to what Vegas has to offer! In some respects Sun City top Vegas, since it is placed next to Pilanesberg Game Reserve, so during the day you can go on safari and see the spectacular wild life and scenery of Africa!

2. Macau Region, China

Macau is separate from Mainland China and has an economy heavily dependent on tourism and because of that casinos became big business in Macau and it is quickly becoming the new hotspot for gambling in the world. Casino owners from Las Vegas have even started opening casinos here, which says a lot about the future of Macau. The largest casino in the world, The Venetian Macau, is in Macau, one of the casinos opened by owners from Las Vegas. So this seems like the new gambling vacation destination!

1. Monte Carlo, Monaco

While Las Vegas has the bright lights, Monte Carlo has the elegance. One of the most beautiful places in the world, its likely that while at a casino here you’ll end up competing against celebrities, royalty, and billionaires. It’s certainly no cheap holiday that’s for sure, but after visiting all the other destinations you should have enough winnings to go and rub shoulders with the elite.

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Finnish Ambassador Nominated for Exporting Finnish Theatre

Pekka Huhtaniemi, the Finnish Ambassador to the UK, has been nominated for the Grassroot Diplomat Initiative Awards for his efforts to export Finnish theatre to the UK. Ambassador Huhtaniemi helped to set up the From-Start-to-Finnish campaign in April 2012. The campaign enables Finnish theatre to gain more exposure to British audiences.

The Grassroot Diplomat Initiative Awards will be celebrating the achievements of politicians, like Pekka Huhtaniemi, who have made a positive impact on society. Grassroot Diplomat, a diplomatic consultancy, aims to bridge the gap between diplomats, politicians and the public. By enabling civil society better communications with high-profile diplomats and politicians, Grassroot Diplomat ensures that an effective and engaging relationship between society, politicians and diplomats is maintained.

Pekka Huhtaniemi

From-Start-to-Finnish is a theatrical exchange programme between the UK based Pleasance Theatre and ACE production in Finland. From-Start-to-Finnish aims to expose UK audiences to Finnish theatre and export British theatre to Finnish audiences. Ambassador Huhtaniemi has stated that the purpose of the From-Start-to-Finnish campaign is to build stronger ties between Finnish and British theatre, and to create a lasting union between Finnish and British theatre.

The campaign has so far been successful in spreading Finnish theatre in the UK. In April 2012 the Ryhmäteatteri independent theatre group performed their adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s The Overcoat. In August 2012 the Edinburgh Fringe Festival also held a showcase of Finnish theatre; another showcase of Finnish theatre will be performed during the 2013 Festival. Nominated under the Social Driver category for the awards, Ambassador Huhtaniemi shows that he is passionate about forging new relationships between the two nations.

Over 50 high-level government officials have been nominated for the Initiative Awards. Join Pekka Huhtaniemi and other government nominees at the Vincent Rooms, Westminster with an evening performance led by Euro-Vision Song Contest artist, Imaani. For ticket information, please visit: Early Bird Ticket sale ends November 2012.

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Qatar continues to invest in Luxembourg

In spite of the announced departure of Qatar Airways from the Cargolux capital, Qatar continues to invest in Luxembourg. Investors from the emirates are currently having discussions to buy the Luxembourgish real estate website and to evolve it towards a European platform

IMMOTOP.LU launched in early October the european real estate website IMMOTOP.EU – All-in-One solution for the real estate agencies and companies across Europe. Qatari investors have seen this interface as a real opportunity to access the European market of real estate. According to Benjamin de Seille, consultant of GBN who worked on the conclusion of the deal, this aspect will allow buyers to have more pieces of information at disposal for the investments in the real estate of the Old Continent.


A large family from Qatar, who is not related to the royal family but known locally, expressed interest in the project of European expansion of Immotop. The family of investors, who do not wish to disclose their name at the moment, is specialized in industry, real estate and IT (information technology). They said they were also ready to inject capital for the promotion of the website

“The group found in IMMOTOP.EU the possibility of having access to the European market of real estate, combining aspects of IT operations and real estate,” says Benjamin de Seille.

This acquisition would also allow the company not only to strengthen its position in regards to its competitor, the Luxembourgish atHome (REA group), but also would provide more opportunities to develop its services throughout Europe.

Real Estate Media Sàrl
106 route d’Esch
L-1470 Luxembourg

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Kuressaare, An Island Full of Miracles

Written by Elena Paraschiv

Estonia is the country that lies on the eastern shores of Baltic Sea. So over the years, the Estonian culture was influenced by the adjacent areas, such as Finnic, Baltic, Slavic, Germanic peoples, but also from Sweden and Russia who have brought major contributions to cultural development of Estonia. Looking through the geographical location, and the influences received for decades, many Estonians consider themselves a Nordic people rather than Baltic, and they also have arguments to support that choice, such as Estonian language is similar to Finnish language and the Estonians as a ethnic group are a Finnic one. Even Swedish Ambassador Mr. Dag Hartelius who gave a speech on Estonian Independence day, on February 24, 2009 considered Estonia “A Nordic Country”. In terms of music, Saxo Grammaticus, the famous Danish historian,(the author of first full history of Denmark, known also as Saxo cognomine Longus), talks in his book “Gesta Danorum”, about the Estonian warriors who were spending the nights singing while they were waiting for the battle. Same warriors who were also known under the name of Eastern Vikings (Estonian pirates).


Saaremaa, the largest island of Estonia, it was the home of notorious Estonian pirates. “The Livonian Chronicle of Henry”(a document describing historic events in Livonia, today`s inland Estonia, north of Latvia and surrounding areas from 1180 to 1227) talks about a fleet of 16 ships and 500 Osilians ravaging the area that now is southern Sweden, then belonging to Denmark. The island name`s means “isle`s land”. In old Scandinavian sagas, Saaremaa is called “Eysysla” and in Icelandic sagas “Eysýsla”. Saaremaa forms the main barrier between the Gulf of Riga and the Baltic Sea. To the south of it is the main passage out of the gulf, the Irbe Strait, next to Sõrve Peninsula, the southernmost portion of the island. In Medieval times islanders were crossing the strait to form fishing villages on Livonian coast, in particular Pitrags village. The capital of Saaremaa is Kuressaare.

Kuressaare is situated on the coast of of Gulf of Riga and its first name was Arensburg. The names was changed in 1918(after Estonia has declared its independence from Bolshevist Russia) in Kuressaare. It first appeared on maps around 1154. The town breathes history in every way possible. In Kuressaare was born the famous romantic painter Eugen Dücker (1841–1916) who was the teacher of a great Norwegian landscape painter Adelsteen Normann, (who studied with Dücker from 1869 to 1872). In Saaremma, the visitors can also find Kaali, a small group of meteorite craters, from which they started many legends, all collected by Lennart Meri in his book “Hõbevalge”. The largest of the craters measures 110 metres in diameter and contains a small lake known as “Kaali järv” (Lake Kaali). Kuressaare is also the host of Saaremaa Opera Days, that takes place in the medieval Episcopal Castle of Kuressaare, this year during 16th and 22nd of July. The first documentation about the castle has been found in Latin texts written in 1381 and 1422. Today, the castle houses the Saaremaa Regional Museum, besides the festival. Some sources say that the castle was built in wood between 1338 and 1380, although others claim a fortress was built in Kuressaare in early 1260.

Saaremaa Opera Festival is the first opera festival in Estonia and it was held for the first time in 1999. During the years, the festival became one of the major opera festivals from Europe, having more than 1,000 people coming from near and far to enjoy the extraordinary music. Festival owes its existence to Ludmilla Toon, a music teacher and choir conductor. This year`s edition will be a true spectacle of beautiful voices and world-class singers. The schedule includes Monica Groop (a Finnish operatic mezzo-soprano who made her operatic debut in 1987 at the Finnish National Opera; she has sung leading roles as a guest artist with important theatres such as: the Los Angeles Opera, the Palais Garnier, the Royal Opera London and many others), Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky’s “Borris Godunov” performed by one of the most famous and interesting theatres in the world, Moscow Helikon-Opera (the artistic diresctor and founder of the theatre Dimitri Bertman has already staged more than 90 performances in Russia, and abroad, including Spain, Austria, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, New Zeeland and Denamark), Koit Soasepp (Estonia/Finland), “The Barber of Seville” and “Rasputin”(Moscow Helikon-Opera), Domenico Gaetano Maria Donizetti’s “Maria Sturda” performes by Vanemuine Theatre and many other surprises.


During the festival, Kuressaare is no longer a simple town, it becomes a dream.This is exactly is the feeling you will experience. Each spectacle is unique in style, performance, emotion and energy, and everything takes place in a wonderful setting that we find it only in fairy tales. In a corner of paradise left in a world that has forgotten to dream. During the festival the world stops, the nature takes a break from development, all the windmills on the island are participating in the festival and capturing people’s emotions and feelings, all under a divine sign, turn the island into a fairy festival. While listening to the music, you can see the leaves crying beauty and the sun going dawn kissing the sea spreading an explosion of orange light that make you feel like the sky is burning.

There is something even more beautiful on this island if God: the old and unwavering lighthouse. The majestic lighthouse that guards the island and that`s waiting for you at the end of a sandy path that separates the sea in two. While you`re heading to the lighthouse you`ll hear the waves breaking at your feet slightly shy. The small beach and the sea breeze fill the landscape with the bluest sky you`ve ever saw. And when you finally get there, you`ll see it. The eternal unlit candle designed to ensure the island forever.

You will be surprised by the emotion and the beautiful peace caused by the inside and the outside together. Everything is a dream waiting for a miracle.

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Strong Finnish Women

Article written by Sasha Raduntceva

“The perfect woman’s task is to be a mother, and a lover, and a warrior. Then we can say that a Princess became a Queen” – Bernard Werber wrote in his book “The Empire of the Angels.” And it is hard to disagree with it. Especially when we have the obvious case – the life of legendary women.

First of all, probably the best-known Finn-woman of all the times is Tove Jansson, the creator of the cutest creatures – The Moomins. The world fame has come to Tove after the publishing of the first part of Moomin’s epopee. She has drawn also the pictures and has adopted the novels into the theatre plays. But the fact is that Tove herself has always told that first of all she is an artist, and hasn’t taken her literary activity seriously. Among the works of Jansson as an artist best known are: The canteen at the Strömberg factory at Pitäjänmäki, Helsinki, The Aurora Children’s Hospital in Helsinki, The Kaupunginkellari restaurant of Helsinki Town Hall and so on. Also she has made the absolutely adorable comics about Moomin for American newspaper “Evening News” published by powerful Associated Press. Originally Jansson has personally drawn each page of comics, but soon she got bored with this job and she gave it to her brother, Lars.

Armi Kuusela

And that wasn’t a great surprise – Tove and her brothers (Per Olov and Lars) grew up with dad-sculptor Viktor Jansson and mum-graphic designer Signe Hammarsten-Jansson. But Tove had a twofold sense for the fallen on her popularity. On the one hand, she irritated the excessive commercialization of her work, on the other hand, that was a huge income from all kinds of products with a Moomin theme allowed her to rent and then buy Klovharu-island in the Gulf of Finland, where she was able to hide from journalists and fans. All in all the copyrights for Tove’s novels belong now to Lars’s daughter Sofia, because unfortunately she had no children. When Tove died, that was a national mourning day, while her contribution to Finnish literature and art is truly inestimable.

On the other side of The Finnish National Theatre, in Kaisaniemi Park, there is a monument. That is an original abstract sculpture represented the Curtain. That is dedicated to another great example of, speaking like Beyonce, “single lady”, Finnish actress Ida Aalberg. When she was first 23 years old, Ida has already performed not only in native country, but also in Hungary, Germany and Russia, and a little bit later she has got her winner-ticket – the role of Nora in the good-known play “Doll House” by Henrik Johan Ibsen. Since then Ida was gradually strengthened over the status of the national treasure. A lot of actors say that the role of their dream is Hamlet. Well, Ida, in some respect, was one of the luckiest – she was Ophelia, the lover of Hamlet. After the death of her first husband, Ida married Alexander Johann Uexküll-Gyllenband and moved to Russian Empire. Had she fears to go to the foreign country? Maybe, but there Ida had anyway a good career. But in 1906, after the death of Kaarli Bergbom, she has taken the lead in the Finnish National Theatre. The art of Aalberg, one of the best Finnish actresses, distinguished by great dramatic force. She has created images of love and suffering, of a women with deep feelings, integrity and passion.

On June 17 1952 in Long Beach, California the first Miss Universe contest has taken place. There were thirty contestants participated and one of them – 17-old Armi Kuusela from Finland. And exactly she has taken a crown.

Tove Jansson

Of course that was incredible, deafening success. When she was back to home country, it was immediately decided to create a movie dedicated to Armi – Maailman kaunein tyttö (World’s most beautiful girl), where she played herself. Afterwards Armi has chosen the way of actress. She was starring also in musicals with her husband, Filipino businessman, Virgilio Hilario, whom she had met during her first journey round the world.

Of course nowadays is Armi one of the examples of “how to be a great Woman”, but that wouldn’t be full without knowing that she had 5 children. And no one of those daughters and sons live in the same country now: Arne Hilario (lives in Chile), Anna-Lisa De Gari (lives in Spain), Jussi Hilario (lives in Canada), Eva-Maria Hess (lives in United States) and Mikko Hilario (lives in the Philippines).

No matter that people say that politics isn’t ladies business, still there are instances of such women. For example, Finnish president Tarja Halonen. In her youth Tarja has radical leftist views, she took also part in the pacifist movement, was a fan of Che Guevara. Tarja has even left the Lutheran church after women were denied ordination. In 1980-1981 she was a chairman of SETA (Fin. Seksuaalinen Tasavertaisuus ry -”Sexual Equality”), an organization that protects the rights of sexual minorities.

Of course that’s possible to talk about this great woman never-ending, but still there was a specific US-joke – on of the American talk show hosts Conan O’Brien compares to Tarja a lot. After joking about this for several months, he travelled to Finland, where appeared on TV and met President herself.

And now let’s move to the hero of our days. It seems that a lot of people know exactly who Leena Peisa is. Well she is one of the member of freaky band “Lordi” that had won Eurovision song contest in 2006. Actually in “Lordi” she has a specific nickname – Awa that means “Be Aware”. Also she takes on the persona of an unearthly Vampire Countess in her “home band”. Of course there was a real hysteria around how all the members look in there normal life. But still no one knows (probably only the nearest and dearest). But anyway there was a precedent, when Daily Mail credited a photo of a woman (without make-up) as being Awa. But she disclaim that information.

Despite the small size of Finland, almost anyone can become a “dream woman” in this country. What is that – the legendary Nordic hardening or Protestant morality? Answer is difficult, but thanks to the Finnish emancipation (in the best sense of the word), ladies have taken the leading position in the world.

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Drama Reloaded: Yerma. Interview with director Katariina Numminen

The Baltic Circle Theatre Festival brought to the Finnish capital a wide array of perfomances, Finnish and international, for all tastes.

One highlight was the introduction of Drama Reloaded: Yerma, a work that revisits the classic play by Spanish writer Federico García Lorca confronting the themes of drama and reality while in the perfomances were added comments from interviews with 12 people childless for different reasons.

The director of the play, the Finnish Katariina Numminen, kindly answered the questions of FREE! Magazine to explain more about this and some other of her current and future projects.

Drama Reloaded: Yerma

Hello Katariina and thanks for answering our questions. From where came the idea to adapt and revisit the classic “Yerma”? Were you very familiar with the original Lorca´s work?

I was impressed how very modern Yerma was, what it comes to characters emotions, and to their relationships with each others. I read the play years ago, and I went back to it now, when I wanted to this project about infertility etc. I have of course read Lorca’s work before, but this was the first time I directed his work to the stage.

“Yerma” dates back to 1934, a period in Spain when it was quite common that the roles of wife and husband were defined, with the man working and the woman as housekeeper. Do you think that it continues being a modern topic, even when young couples nowadays usually both work and often they do not even have time for raising or having children, though being fertile?

As I said at some point during the reherseals: I find that Lorca’s spanish village with all the strict rules and demands and honour and such, is not that different from the demands and set of expectations and rules each one of us carries in our heads. So, Lorca’s wiew is not valid what it comes to society, but somehow, strangely, it is very true psychologically. We tend to have terrible demands for ourselves.

In Drama Reloaded: Yerma, the drama basically faces reality and gets analyzed and dissected while taking place. But does the art do not lose in a way the “magic” touch to play with the mind and imagination of the audience when you confront it with reality?

Only if one is looking for an illusion sort of art, a coherent fiction to which to dive and escape from reality. I think fiction and reality do tend to “contaminate” each other on stage. Both change when contrasted. But this is exactly what I find interesting.

Disco Coconut

During an act of the play, I noticed that the actors basically represented the original text of Lorca in Spanish language. Was very challenging for them to learn the lines? Did they have previous knowledge of Spanish language? Why you decided to mix Finnish and Spanish languages in the play?

No, they are not Spanish speakers, so it was hard work for them to learn the lines. But we had a wonderful Spanish coach, who read the lines with us. I wanted to have a scene in Spanish, in a language strange to most of audience and to the actors, because I found that a crisis or a emotional shock can bring us to as state in which we don’t anymore know the language, the words we are speaking ourselves.

If I am not mistaken, you also had a project in Kiasma that is closing just this week, called “Coconut Disco”. What can you tell us about it?

Coconut Disco – Afrikan ääniä was shown last spring as a part of Ars 11 exhibition. It was a live radio play and live performance at the same time. Collaborating with me were musician Rodrigues Jose and sound desingner Kimmo Modig. It was about sounds. A try-out to make space African sounds and voices. The question was: do two people ever hear or see the world the same way.

You collaborate with the Vyborg Artistic Theatre in Russia. Do you spend long periods abroad, or do you live all the time in between Helsinki and Vyborg?

I live in Helsinki.Viipurin taiteellinen teatteri is a project which started in 2002, as a project where we, 6 Finnish Artists, disguised as Russian Viborg Artistic Theatre and made a performance called The Dybbuk. So we acted Russian actors acting that performance. We have made 5 performances since that.
We have a premiere coming, “Viipurin taiteellisen teatterin viimeinen esitys” (Vyborg Artistic Theatre: Last Performance) in Teatteri Takomo in Helsinki this New year’s Eve, and performances during January 2012.

What future plans do you have for the next months? Will Drama Reloaded: Yerma be played around in other theatres in Finland?

Drama Reloaded: Yerma is perhaps having more performances next March.

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Sexhibition: Helsinki´s sex party

Autumm is here. Helsinki is dark, getting colder and colder every day and people start to feel moody and cranky because they know that they will have to wait for a long time until spring is back. The summer parties and casual romances are over… So what to do? Easy, to assist to Sexhibition to feed the erotic flame that the citizens of the Finnish capital have deep (or not so deep) inside.

Sexhibition, the Helsinki Erotic Festival, is organized twice a year in Jäähalli, very near the city centre. For 2 days the assistants can enjoy top performers from all over the world, do shopping and assist to spontaneous displays of affection on the upper stage where the amateurs play an important role.


Actually, if you have never assisted to Sexhibition and you are expecting the venue to be full of old pervs hungry to take a look at some naked flesh, the reality is far from it. I had assisted for last time in 2007 while researching for material for a big cover story about sex business in Finland, so it was refreshing to be back there. The audience is mostly quite young, groups of boys and girls (many of them dressed in quite sexy outfits) who are warming up drinking, looking at the shows, shopping and having a good fun for continuing later the party in some nightclub or at the after party of the festival that was taking place at Millionaire´s Club. There were also many young couples who enjoy the exhibition together.

What I noticed is that maybe the tone of the festival in general is a bit more “softcore” than in previous years, and it is indeed greatly aimed at attracting a female audience, with more performers to delight the ladies like Satisfaction Show and Julio Gonzalez. Not so much explicit sex on the main stage, but more “artistic” perfomances. The queen of the current edition was undoubtedly Tali De ´Mar. You can notice her experience on stage, how comfortable she feels and how she connects with the audience with her erotic-burlesque show.

Charlie Sheen doll

If one can put a “but”, is that most of the shows turn to be quite short, lasting only a few minutes. Also the peep show cabins were a bit dissappointing, paying 2e for just a few seconds of a show, although if you follow the yellow press, you have an extra motivation to hang around to see Saana Parviainen working as a host there (her husband Jussi Parviainen was also present there, I wonder if he wanted to take a closer look at her to check if she would perform live sex with Mr. Lothat on stage or not, like it happened in the previous edition of the festival…).

For making up the pauses between shows, once again the female audience has the better part of the cake when wandering around, with many products on sale for them: lingerie, outfits, all kind of sex toys like an amazing array of dildos, vibrators, etc. No wonder that around 50% of the assistants were women, a number that is probably much more higher than in other Erotic Festivals around Europe, like for example the ones held in my native country Spain.

But also the male audience had many possibilities for doing some good shopping around: quality leather belts for just 10 euro, 2 pack of nice boxers also for 10e, leather jackets with great discounts… Clothes, sex toys and complements to fullfill everybody´s requirements!


If you wanted some more explicit action, at the upper floor there was another small stage where Finnish professional stripper and porn actor Mr. Lothar was hosting the show. There amateurs were welcome to show their erotic and sexual skills to the masses, although in the end it was Mr. Lothar who was stealing the show; One has to recognize that he is a charismatic showman, able to perform live sex in front of hundreds of eyes while cracking jokes, and always followed by a good haren of sexy female fans and collaborators. Among the activities shown there, you could see the semi-finals for the Finnish National Championship of giving blowjobs and licking pussy. I wonder why they never write about those competitions at the tourist office when they comment others in Finland like throwing mobile phones or carrying wives…

All in all, Sexhibition is quite a fun event to visit with friends, a couple, or of course alone if you have the curiosity to see what is going on there. The next edition will change location, being organized at Kaapelitehdas in 2012, so let´s see how the change of the venue affects the general atmosphere of the event. Meanwhile folks, make love, not war!

Photos: Saara Suominen

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Vincent Chase vs. Hank Moody

Well, obviously in the last couple of years, TV series have gained a lot of quality, popularity and budget (thanks in great part to the appearance of HBO channel). While when I was a child, the humor on the TV series was more related to theatrical situations, nowadays it is raw, sexy and closer to a Hollywood movie than any other thing.

Relationships and sex have a key role in some of the most successful series of the last years. Is there any young woman who does not list Sex and the City among her favorite TV series in any social network lately? Women and series for women have gained more and more space in the schedule of the big major channels, with the major companies wisely realizing that they are probably the most powerful sector at home (who controls the remote controller, controls the world indoors).

Adrian Grenier

However, because I cannot deny I am a man, I prefer to watch more “masculine” series (not meaning that those series are just for men and women, but certainly they have different target audiences in the producer’s minds). The ones that lately have caught my attention are Californication and Entourage.
I am not going to explain here the plot of every one of those, if you don´t know them, because you can easily check them out in Internet. But among other things, both series share a couple of features: they are full of beautiful women, and they both have characters that seem to get more pussy than George Clooney and Brad Pitt together: Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) and Hank Moody (David Duchovny).

Honestly, although I do not complain about the abundant beautiful female presence in both series, it is not one of the main reasons I like them (although obviously I neither complain). I like series with good script, humor and a lot of winks and references to music and cinema; some things that the scriptwriters there had been able to create wonderfully, apart from choosing a great cast. Some of the secondary actors in Entourage like Kevin Dillon or Jeremy Piven are just awesome.

However, although both main characters, Chase and Moody, are always surrounded by beautiful women, there are quite a few differences between both of them. I feel like Moody could be like an older brother or a young cousin that you know it will be fun to go out with to a crazy trip, party or holiday. Even if he naturally attracts women, he is intelligent enough to make everybody have a good time, and apart from the good looks, he always has a witty comment and sarcasm. He does not need to get laid, but basically that makes him get laid.

David Duchovny

However, Chase is the typical pretty boy who has not read more than 10 books in his life, but has been favored by the gods having great looks and a puppy gaze that uses to “seduce”. Well, he basically does not need to seduce, women just throw themselves at him, and he just needs not to fuck the situation up keeping quiet. It is true that he is caring with his friends and not always shelfish, but he has those strange changes of moods proper of stars that sometimes do not live in the real world. While Moody would become a great experienced partner to hang around, Chase would be the typical case of the “pretty boy” of the gang of friends who would end up making out in the back door with the girl you had been dreaming about all night. But he is so charming that you would forgive him next morning.

Which one do you prefer as a comrade, partner in crime or potential lover, Moody or Chase?