Snow, where art thou?

Snow, where art thou?

The sun has finally come after many days of rain. It was nice to see more sunlight again, crossing over the very dark winter days. But snow, where art thou? It is rather a strange winter!

Christmas day came with a promise of snow. There is always snow in Christmas morning. But no! However, nature always brings beauty. A walk in the park and in the forest was a much needed break on Christmas day in Kotka, Finland.

New year’s eve came with a promise of snow too. We spent waiting for 2020 in Porvoo, Finland. But snow didn’t come either. However, Porvoo city is always pretty. We enjoyed the beautiful old town and coffee moments at Tee ja Kahvihuone Helmi. Tee ja Kahvihuone Helmi has an enormous selection of cakes which made it a bit difficult to choose just one.

850_4646New Year’s eve dinner was a three course meal at Bistro Gustav. It was an excellent french meal.

And as of today in Helsinki, still no snow! I hope everyone is having a good start of the year.

All photos taken by arivitikainenphotography.com

Back to London

Back to London

I have been to London a few times before. Interestingly, this was my first time to be in London on a non-work related trip. This time, it was purely holiday!

We stayed at a tiny hotel room by the King’s Cross station. As soon as we arrived, we were already out and about. We had an amazing first night. First at the Piccadilly Circus, a lovely Italian dinner, a walk in Chinatown and enjoyed the energetic performance of Thriller Live which I watched for the first time at the same Lyric theatre in 2013.

The next day started with a lovely breakfast at a nice, little French café called Pattisserie Deux Amis. Of course, we had to take photos on the way to the British Museum. After the British Museum, we went to see the Gherkin and had a very filling Japanese dinner. Then we rode the bus back to the hotel which was really fun, watching life on the street at night.

The next morning, we tried something different. We past by a restaurant and saw sandwiches being grilled. We thought, “Why not!” So we ended up sat back to back with construction workers at Frank’s Café. Although, while they were having lunch, we were just having breakfast. But the best bit was watching the old couple cooking the food together and speaking Italian to each other by a framed photo of their younger selves. For awhile there, I thought I was in New York!

Then we went to Tate Modern and went by the Tower Bridge in the evening. This time, dinner was Indian food.

The last full day in London was surprisingly sunny! There was a walk at James Park playing with cute squirrels, a placard with The Wave on it, crossed the Westminster bridge and watched Big Ben being all covered up. I was back to the National Gallery to see Surprised for the third time. And as the magic moment approached, we were on the Tower Bridge. Such a fun and tiring day with Chinese food for dinner.


Then the last morning came. We enjoyed a short walk in Oxford Street before heading to the airport. Happily, I found a great combination of two of my favourite brands, Uniqlo and Marimekko, in a form of a coat. I love this classic design! Marimekko is a famous Finnish brand but there is no Uniqlo in Finland. So no such coat can be found in Finland. So I feel like the lucky one!

And guess what? We totally forgot to eat Fish and Chips!

(All photos taken by Ari Vitikainen at arivitikainenphotography.com.)

Iceland, you’re the one!

Iceland, you’re the one!

Going back to Iceland after two years was quite a sure thing. Who can resist its beauty and the possibility to see the Northern light. However, the Northern light was pale as the moon was shining so bright. But I saw it across the sky and it will forever be remembered.

What was amazing about this trip was being able to drive around Iceland. We stayed in 5 places for 5 nights. It was easy to rent a car at the airport and start driving eastbound. Since we have been to Reykjavik before, we skipped the capital city entirely and went straight in search for the Northern light. As I said earlier, the moon was shining so bright so the Northern light was so pale but I saw it nevertheless.

Passing by the Diamond Beach the next day was so amazing. For me, it was the highlight of the trip. It was so beautiful, something I haven’t seen before. That night the Northern light can be seen better, although the moon was still bright as bright. I also realised that the easiest way to let people out of the guesthouse was to show them the photos of the Northern light directly from the camera. They all left so hurriedly to see the Northern light for themselves that I had the bathroom all to myself.

We drove past the mountains and over the mountains. In one place, the area was covered in snow. It was so beautiful, passing through different seasons, watching the sunrise and the sunset.

The last morning was very windy and the snow came. But later in the day, the sky cleared up and it was just amazingly beautiful. Yes, Iceland, you are the one!

All photos taken by Ari Vitikainen at arivitikainenphotography.com.

I love you, India!

I love you, India!

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I was a bit confused. People who were following our travels were commenting surprisedly that India is actually beautiful. But of course, India is beautiful. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Not only because of its beautiful people, it has a long, fascinating history. And if you like Indian food, well, what more can you ask for!

The India trip started by arriving early in New Delhi. The hotel was not only beautiful, but the staff were very generous to get us into early check-in without the additional charge. At first it felt like a hassle that the flight to Agra the next day was cancelled, but the express train did not only take us to Agra in less than 2 hours, it was surprisingly a pleasant trip.

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It was wonderful to visit Taj Mahal again after almost 10 years. Taj Mahal never ceases to amaze me. The heat didn’t stop me from admiring this historical place.

The next destination was beautiful Jaipur. I was taken back by this fancy hotel. It used to be a palace. In the 1940’s, they built the surrounding buildings. There are lots of quiet spaces in this hotel.

Jaipur, itself, is a fascinating city with historical sights that hold great significance. There is the Hawa Mahal, the City Palace and a visit to the monkeys. They ate lots of peanuts!

In between the Jaipur trip, was a quick visit to Jaisalmer. The Jaisalmer fort has many beautiful, intricate Haveli architecture. Interestingly, people live inside the fort and the daily life goes on as normal.

And of course, the trip will not be complete without visiting Thar Desert. Being able to pull the camel was such a highlight for me with the sunset as the backdrop!

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Upon returning to Jaipur, the flight was cancelled so it was a 12 hours overnight train ride. We survived and was accommodated at a beautiful hotel when we arrived. Our room was facing the Water Palace.

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The last few days were spent in lovely Jaipur, visiting the Amber fort and admiring the Step-well. It was my first time to know that Step-wells ever existed. Fascinating!

Lastly, here is my illustrated travel journal for this trip.

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All photos were taken by Ari Vitikainen at arivitikainenphotography.com

Lenny Kravitz, the greatest concert ever

Lenny Kravitz, the greatest concert ever

IMG_2811Lenny’s show in Helsinki on Saturday was amazing. He was full of energy, yet, so relaxed and so in the moment. He was walking in the stage and connecting sincerely to his audience. There was no rush whatsoever. He even asked the audience, “You are not in a hurry, aren’t you?” His voice was mesmerising. It was the same as listening to his studio recorded songs which means that he has such an authentic voice. His song, Here to love, was so touching with a choir on stage.

I bought seat tickets just to be sure that I can see. Except for Toto’s concert where I was stood in the first row, I struggled with height issue in concerts. I remember being squeezed among the crowd of a Green Day concert. And if not for the generous people infront of me during the Duran Duran and the Mariah Carey’s concert, I will not to able to see a thing, even those were seated tickets.

However during Lenny’s performance of Let love rule, I decided to go down. As luck would have it,  Lenny went down the stage too and kept on saying, “I want to see the people.” I saw the security near me looking all nervous. Lenny went across and up the hall. I knew that he will pass my way since the steps going up the stage was on the side where I was standing. People rushed to my side with phones ready while I decided to place my phone on my back pocket. I held out both my hand as he was coming close. I called softly, “Lenny”. And he reached his hand to me and I held it with both my hands. We were face to face. He was infront of me. He saw me. It was a very in the moment handshake. The people before me didn’t get handshakes while they stuck out one hand and phones on the other. I would not be in the moment and see him up close, if I was busy with my phone. I was the second to the last person who he shook hands with before climbing back the stage. The last person who was the guy next to me was not on his phone either. Well, talking about in the moment!

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