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I feel like HSL is punishing me

February 21, 2017

Helsinki Regional Transport (HSL/HRT), the public transit authority in the Helsinki region, has undergone a huge transformation in the last few years. When I first moved here and was using public transit to get around, the regional transport network only included Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen. If you took the train outside of those municipalities, you travelled in what was Finnish State Rail territory (VR). Several bus companies in surrounding municipalities had their own fee schedules and so on for people travelling to the HSL/HRT region from outlying communities.

That has changed a lot in recent years: expansion of the rail network to Leppävaara (finished long ago!), the development of Kamppi and the mail railway station in Helsinki to accommodate regional bus traffic, the expansion of the rail network to include a direct connection to Lahti, the airport railway network expansion and several municipalities negotiating to join the HSL/HRT network – the most recent of those being Tuusula just a week or so ago.

Of course up to this point I have failed to mention the West Metro (Länsimetro) expansion to Espoo, which should have opened up last August (to much fanfare and massive changes to bus transport in Espoo). The project has had cost overruns and been plagued by safety issues, which have significantly delayed its opening. I won’t spend a lot of time delving into the history of the delays, all you have to do is put “West Metro Espoo” into any search engine and you’ll get a pretty comprehensive look at the issue.

While I can normally get around quite easily in Espoo by bus, I do have an issue with the rearranging of the bus network that I depend on to get from home to work and back again. Once the new schedules come on line (whenever the metro opens), I will have to take two buses to get to and from work (plus a lot walking to get to the right stop), totalling well over two hours spent walking and being on public transit per day. I live and work in Espoo and I feel like I am going to be punished for using public transport. We have been a one-car family for YEARS and we have managed to work things out quite well. That looks set to change.

I already get up at a crazy early hour to get to work and put in a full day, as the Mr. has the car the most of the time. I take the Little Miss to and from her hobbies in the evening and on weekends (with the car – or we get a ride when needed). I have a feeling that our current routine will change a lot next season, she is getting older, so the practice times will change as will the game and tournament schedules… Let’s just say, that with those changes coming, I really can’t afford to spend a lot of time on public transit. I need to make efficient use of my time – and spending 10 hours+ per week on public transit in Espoo (where I remind you, I work and live), is not at all efficient. I hate to say it: I think we need to get a second car.

I didn’t want to do this HSL, but you have practically forced my hand by punishing those who live and work in Espoo and use public transit to get around…

It was time: A Paralympian for Athlete of the Year

January 24, 2017

Last week I scratched something off of my bucket list: to attend the annual Finnish Sports Gala (Urheilugaala) in Helsinki. It’s my understanding that this past gala was the 10th anniversary, which is kind of a cool thing since Finland is celebrating 100 years of independence this year.

A lot of people I talked to were surprised to find out that the sports gala is open to the public and that the tickets were so cheap – only 19,50 a piece – definitely a great deal! We arrived a couple hours ahead of time so that we could check things out at the Hartwall Areena. Since it was a “gala,” we dressed up a little. The main floor was covered with a red carpet and there were lots of booths to stop at and bits of history to look at too. The Little Miss was able to snag some autographs from Ari-Pekka Liukkonen (the giant swimmer who stands at 2.09 m) and Jani Kukkola (a member of Finland’s World Champion salibandy team). It was really nice to meet these gentlemen in person and cool for the Little Miss too. 🙂 I’ll let the photos explain themselves…

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One of the highlights of the night was the Lifetime Achievement Award, which was awarded to 92 year-old Siiri  “Äitee” Rantanen and 96 year-old Lydia Widemen, who were both award winning cross-country skiers in the 1950s and early 1960s. To see both of those women make their way to the stage to accept their award was a great moment.

Leo-Pekka Tähti finally (emphasis definitely needed) won the title he has been so deserving of for many years. The reluctance of Finland’s sporting media establishment to select him as Athlete of the Year in the past just shows how unprepared they are to embrace Paralympic sport as mainstream in this country. (Thankfully Canada crossed that bridge many years ago when Chantal Petitclerc, a multiple-medal winning Paralympian in wheelchair racing, was named as Canada’s Athlete of the Year – being awarded the Lou March Trophy in 2008.)

I was really disappointed with YLE News in English, as they decided to call Tähti the “Sports Personality of the Year,” which to me does nothing more than diminish his achievements as an athlete. I’ve yet to get a confirmation from the crew at Urheilugaala that this is indeed the accepted English translation of “Vuoden urheilija.” Everyone else I have asked has said the correct translation is “Athlete of the Year.” (Update: Apparently this is related to the style of English the media outlets are using. The accepted British English translation is apparently “Sports Personality of the Year,” which is what YLE News adheres to. Fair enough, but I don’t agree with it.)

That being said, this year’s Athlete of the Year in Finland was definitely the right choice. Congratulations Leo-Pekka Tähti, your time to shine is finally here!

The daily Helsingin Sanomat had a full page spread on Tähti the following day

The daily Helsingin Sanomat had a full page spread on Tähti the following day

And I didn’t have to eat my hat… 🙂

Picture of the Day

December 30, 2016

I saw an ad for this the other day in the paper and nearly lost my sh*t.

Rough translation: NEW, peeled whole onions, from Holland. Ready peeled onions speed up cooking, clean and easy: Rinse, cut and cook! Suitable for all cooking, especially for sauces and casseroles.

Extreme civilization has arrived in Finland: We’re suddenly too busy, too lazy and too adverse to getting dirty that we need ready-peeled and packaged onions (that aren’t even Finnish – AKA local) in order to simplify our lives. I don’t even want to know what the carbon footprint of this is.

I expressed my disdain to the retail chain in question…

I really hope that consumers in this country will not fall for this kind of crap. Peel your own onions and make sure they’re LOCAL! It’s not going to kill you.

<rant over>

Picture of the Day

December 29, 2016

The Christmas holiday was short this year, but it was good. We had a good time up in Savo – where there is SNOW! The Mr. has established a routine for us (dependent on the weather) and when we’re up visiting his parents, we take the day and go skiing at Tahko (or Kasurila).

Tahko had 10/24 slopes open on Boxing Day (December 26) and it snowed while we were there, so the conditions were really great. I am not much a downhill skier (and never will be), but it is always fun to do something a little different!

Both ski centres are great for kids, so keep that in mind if you’re skiing with little people.

Last run down Tahko Special!

Last run down Tahko Special!

Merry Christmas! Hyvää Joulua!

December 24, 2016

Dear friends and followers of Life in Finland, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for following this blog over the years.

It is that time of the year again. Today is the big day in Finland – it is Christmas and Santa Claus will be paying us a visit later today. 🙂

Be safe, don’t drink and drive and arrive alive!

See you on the flip side of Christmas!



A belated 99th birthday to Finland!

December 22, 2016

Whoa! How did I miss that?

I will blame my life at the arena for that. I was coaching ringette all day on December 6, Finland’s Independence Day, and 99th birthday. At the end of November I told you about a little giveaway I was having for the reader’s of my blog. I’d like to thank the people who took the time to e-mail me their stories. I hope to use bits of them at some point. Some of the stories were pretty funny! 😀

The winner of the Finland swag draw is Sophie B. Congratulations! She has already been contacted and her package will be in the mail soon. Sophie actually lived in Tampere for a few years and shared some really great memories of her time here with her family.


Helsinki doesn’t need Guggenheim

December 1, 2016

Yesterday Helsinki City council voted against the construction of a Guggenheim museum in the city by a vote of 53–32.

This was the right decision and I honestly hope that this is the end of it.

I have loosely followed the issue since it became headline news a few years back. I have always been against the idea of building a Guggenheim museum in Helsinki, for several reasons.

Helsinki already has really fabulous museums that deserve our support: Atenium, the National Museum, Kiasma (not so fabulous, but anyways… modern art is not really my thing), the Finnish Nature Museum (Luomus) and many others. I think the museums we already have in the capital should be a priority. We should be supporting the Finnish art, culture and historical scene. We do not need imported culture in Helsinki. That is what travelling exhibitions are for.

Money: Let’s face it, and excuse my language, the Finnish economy is shit right now and why on earth would Helsinki city officials allow the expenditure of taxpayer money for something as exclusive as Guggenheim? We are facing budget cuts of BILLIONS of euros from the education budget, so how can we possibly pour desperately needed taxpayer money into a foreign venture? As much as the proponents of Guggenheim Helsinki tried to say it would be funded by private money — I say bollocks. The taxpayer would have been paying for it in the end.

Guggenheim is exclusive. With the outrageous costs surrounding the architectural competitions, initial studies, building of the museum and future licencing fees (which no doubt would have come from the pockets of the taxpayer, in spite of what Guggenheim supporters said), who would be able to afford to go to such a place? On the surface Guggenheim is a brand and business, which means money, competition and profit, not community and collaboration.

In fact, I agree with everything that Pedro Aibéo wrote in this article.

I really hope that this will be done and buried now. The farce has gone on long enough.

I apologize for the profanity, but this sums up the feelings of many people who are opposed to Guggenheim establishing a museum in HKI.

I apologize for the profanity, but this sums up the feelings of many people who are opposed to Guggenheim establishing a museum in Helsinki.