Let’s talk about Finland some more.

I’m going to start this post by talking about a comment I received on my last one :)

I briefly talked about the Finnish Sauna, and Sartenada (blog) told me that he had made a post about it, and it is very complete, with photos and everything. So, check it out: http://sartenada.wordpress.com/category/sauna/
It’s hard to explain WHY the Finnish Sauna is so amazing, but maybe by looking at these pics, you’ll be able to get an idea. Also, Sartenada is a blog worth checking out, I was just taking a look myself and wow, incredible photography.

Well, now more about my trip :)

First day, as you all know, I went to the beach. It still sounds very odd to be to say that, and yes, it might be silly and i might sound like an ignorant who only knows the cliché things about places, but I really did not know how things worked in Finland when it wasn’t snowing and dark…That was just the idea I had…I could’ve never imagined going to the beach there.
But it was a wonderful experience, after all. Then, later, me and my cousin went to the Mall and a few other places in the downtown are of Helsinki. For those of you who do not know what or where Helsinki is, it’s the capital city of Finland.
Here are a few things I have been reading about it:

Helsinki is among the world’s northernmost capitals and the lengthy winter, from October all the way up to April, is dark and freezing. Winter temperatures average -5°C, but the wind chill makes it feel even colder and the mercury can plunge below -20°C on a particularly cold day. Snow falls only intermittently and often melts into gray slush.

The summer is often pleasant. Temperatures sometimes climb above 25°C. Parks burst into green and sunbathers dot the city’s beaches.

So yeah, there you go…. But it is such a beautiful city, very organized, nice places to go, cool things to do, there are parks, shops, museums etc.

Helsinki Cathedral!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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But where I stayed at was not Helsinki. My cousin was living at this little apartment in a city called…are you ready? KauniainenIt’s a cute little town in the Metropolitan area of Helsinki. Me and Lucas took the bus to Helsinki a lot, and the train to other places. The train leaves every 15 minutes…and it’s like I said about Paris, it’s better if you don’t try to be a smart-ass and ride without paying because someone might come check if you bought the ticket. I need to be honest, as Brazilians, me and my cousin skipped this rules a few times and just hoped for the best. hahaha

The apartment lived at was a place his host family had because where they lived was a bit out of hand from where they worked, so it was too big of a commute. It was a small but very pleasant place to live, close to a nice market, pizza place, a park, the train station was a few blocks away…

Kauniainen apartment.

 

 

One day after I got in Finland, my cousin informed me that we were going to his host family’s lake house. Apparently it’s very common to have a Lake House.

Getting there, after 5+ hours, was a good surprise. It was very peaceful and extremely beautiful. There was the main cabin, where the kitchen was, the porch, the living room and a small bedroom were…Another cabin with two separate rooms. The outhouse. Yes. Outhouse. And the Sauna.
It was at their lake house where I discovered one of the most amazing snacks I have ever had in my life.
It’s this rice pastry thing filled with mashed potatoes, or a rice-pudding-like sort of thing and you’d eat it with butter or butter and tomatoes on top…Just divine! I found a few recipes but I doubt I can find all the right ingredients and prepare it correctly in order to be just as perfect as the real Finnish ones. Here is the recipe of Karelian.

 

THIS IS AMAZING, PLEASE TRY IT.

Another thing about Finnish food is, obviously, SALMON. And if you don’t like fish…well, too bad for you :( but salmon in Finland is even better than the salmon dishes i have tried before.
Lucas’ host dad made this spaghetti with a creamy salmon sauce that was….can I use the word divine just one more time???? Because it was!
A lot of their dishes use salmon. I tried googling ”why is finnish salmon better” but found nothing. I think it might where they fish it from, but I will not say anything dumb, so let’s just stop here with this last comment: EXQUISITE!

There was just ONE thing I did not enjoy eating in Finland and oddly enough, EVERYONE there seemed to love.
Salmiakki. It’s SALTY LIQUORICE. Horrible, huh? But since they all love it so much, I’m going to talk about it…
Liquorice is very common in the US and that’s where I tried it for the first time. I didn’t love it, either. But when my cousin’s host sister offered me this black candy, liquorice did not come to my mind. I just thought ”oh, candy, sure”. Then when I bit the candy, well…it was salty!!!! So weird! But they have a bunch of variations of the Salmiakki thing. I think I remember seeing Salmiakki ice cream at Mc Donalds. Or it was somewhere else, you know…I didn’t buy it so, whatever. But it IS worth trying, since it’s such a normal thing around there. Even if people tell you it’s bad, try it. Just do it!!!!!!

WELL, BACK TO THE LAKE CABIN…
Besides trying the delicious finnish dishes, that was where I had my first Sauna experience. The Fins take pride in their sauna. A lot like Argentinians and Brazilians, the people from Finland constantly make comments that imply they are a bit better than the Swedish people. So when we talk about Sauna, they make sure you understand it is a FINNISH thing.
But, anyways. When you first enter the sauna, the sensation you get is hard to describe. It’s way hotter than anything i had ever witnessed. As soon as you sit down, you start sweating. Not in a yucky, disgusting way, but in a purifying way. You feel like you’re cleansing. It’s great for your skin, your hair…I think it’s even great for your soul, and I am not even joking!!!!! haha

When I thought it was already pretty hot, the girls kept pouring more water into the steam thing…. And it got hotter and hotter and they didn’t seem to mind or be satisfied.
Then you start getting used to it…and it feels really good.
After the sauna, you jump in the lake!!! The cold lake. And remember, I was there during summer time…they do that in the WINTER, with snow and frozen lakes.
After taking the courage to jump …I finally got in and I think for that moment, I went to a place like Heaven or something like that. It’s so worth it.

For you, girls, a great tip my friends gave me was to leave some conditioner in your head while you’re in the sauna. It makes it soft and shiny! Very good.

So we spent 3 to 4 days at the cabin and it was very good to relax. During the day we’d eat and sunbathe, read some books and play crosswords, talk, take naps….swim…And during the night we basically just talked and ate and it was great.

Relaxing time!

The Lake

 

 

some pics for you to see how great of a time we had at the lake :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the weather was amazing, too.
Close to the cabin (well, an hour away) there was this castle. First real castle I’ve been too, and it was very pretty.
The name is Olavinlinna.

Currently, the castle hosts several small exhibitions, including the Castle Museum which displays artifacts found in the castle or related to it, and the Orthodox Museum which displays icons and other religious artifacts both from Finland and Russia. The castle forms a spectacular stage for the Savonlinna Opera Festival, held annually in the summer since 1912. 

 

Me and Lucas in front of the Olavinlinna castle.

 

 

Me loving the castle!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m going to finish this tomorrow, because I want to chat with my cousin to see if he remembers a few other things that I don’t and to add more cool info about Finland.

 

Good night ! :)

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Let’s talk about Brazil.

Yes, why not?

I do want to talk about the places I have been to, other countries etc, but Brazil is pretty big and, honestly, quite awesome, so why not talk about the places I have visited HERE?

I will first talk about Bahia. Bahia is a state here in Brazil, it is located on the northeastern part of the country and the state is known for several different factors. The word ‘Bahia’ roughly translated means simply ‘Bay’. The state of Bahia is a tropical place with amazing beaches and cool places to visit, a bunch of things to do from Carnaval to snorkling and diving.

Important : Bahia has some extremely dangerous and violent cities but I chose to overlook that in my post. I wanna focus on all the good parts.

One of the best known cities in Bahia is probably Salvador. They have one of the biggest Carnaval celebrations and well known places like o Pelourinho.
Some famous people are from Bahia: Ivete Sangalo, Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso etc. So obviously, Bahia is full of music, dancing and happiness. Bahia is samba, axé (brazilian music-dance style) and capoeira.

They have the greatest and most distinctive African imprint.
Bahia is full of traditions, customs, religions. (Wikipedia: These include the Yoruba-derived religious system of Candomblé, the martial art of capoeira, African-derived music such as samba (especially samba’s Bahian precursor samba-de-roda), afoxé, and axé, and a cuisine with strong links to western Africa.)

But around here, Bahia is mostly known for the way that all the Baianos (people from Bahia) live. They are calm, relaxed, happy. Some people tend to mistake that for LAZINESS, and I think that’s absurd. Once you get to know people there, you see they work hard, sometimes even harder than you might imagine. It’s a bit like the concept Americans have with Mexicans. Some insist on saying they are lazy when in reality, they work extremely hard everyday.
Baianos can bring joy to every place they set their foot in. They are just joyful people like that.
I mean, a place with a warm weather almost all year long, amazing people, traditions, dancing and music, AMAZING food, by the way…how could you NOT be happy?

The thing about Bahia is that it might not be a perfect place, but it helps if you smile. I’ve always thought that was the most amazing trait about all Brazilians. Starting in Bahia, I guess.

So, last year, I went to a place called Praia do Forte. It is located about 50 km from Salvador. You should Google it if you want more info about it, because the address I linked it to, is Portuguese only.

Praia do Forte is just amazing. There are little shops you can buy things from. It goes from ceramics and hand made things to 100% cotton made dresses and expensive clothes. A lot to choose from.
They have natural pools. Gorgeous beaches. And a lot of good hotels to stay at.
Besides, you can just lay back and relax, drink some caipirinhas and eat some acarajé.

The ladies who cook the typical foods in Bahia, wear this very specific set of clothing.

Baianas

I enjoyed my stay at Praia do Forte quite a lot. It was only a bit over a week but i felt oh-so relaxed, that i decided I would not stay away from Bahia too long.

So THIS year, I went to Itacaré.
Itacaré is a city about 1 and a half hours from Ilhéus.

When I thought that Praia do Forte was the best thing ever, I went to Itacaré. And don’t take me wrong, Praia do Forte is BEAUTIFUL, but I think I have to admit that I liked Itacaré that much more.

I stayed at a Eco Resort (Itacaré Eco Resort site). It was such a pleasant stay. When we (me and my mom, who I love traveling with, btw…) got there, we were welcomed with two coconut waters served in the coconut, as it is very common here.

The people who worked there were so well trained to attend all the guests needs, they were so nice, so talkative, happy, fun. Since day one, we felt at home. I am not exaggerating.

In Itacaré, there are a whole lot of things to do. There was this big surfing championship. There a lot of different beaches, and one is more beautiful than the next.
In one of the beaches we went to, we did this thing called Arvorismo, which I believe is called Adventure park, in English.

Anyways, at the end of it, there was a zip-line that passes right above the beach of Ribeira. It is the best feeling in the World, I think.
Unfortunately, I did not take my camera with me, so I had to look up a video on Youtube. So here it is:

This is NOT my video.

Anyways. The adventure park thing had 27 steps and it was very exhausting but so much fun at the same time. And having that zip line at the end of it all, it just makes it that much more worth the effort.

Then, there was this beach called Tiririca. That was probably my favorite beach because there was a skate ramp, a bunch of surfers, hostels, and kids (and adults, too) playing on a slack line. It was an amazing atmosphere. The water was warm, and calm. Everyone was just chilling on the sand, watching surfers, doing their thing… I think I would probably live there. I’m serious. I wanna raise a kid there. hahaha.

Praia da Tiririca 1 - The skate ramp and the beach behind. AMAZING!!!!! <3

At the hotel I stayed at, there was also this private beach. I surfed there. But with a longboard, whatever… It was fun though. They have waiters who bring you food on the beach, they have activities like yoga classes, surf lessons etc.

The downtown of Itacaré was very fun. They had a lot of little shops with local products, clothing, necklaces, ceramics. Good restaurants and bars. Happy people. Of course, happy people.

Itacaré is best known for Cocoa. So, they have everything made of cocoa, from chocolate, to jam and coffee.

There is so much more I can say about Itacaré, but I will just leave you with some pictures, and tell you to VISIT this beautiful place if you ever come to Brazil. It is SO worth it and you will not regret it.

The private beach at Itacaré Eco Resort

me and the surf teacher from the hotelIndio pataxó -

Pineapple cocktail and a sort of ''small' crab meat dish. (Casquinha de Siri) by the pool. PARADISE.

Cocoa! Delicious!!!!!

Aside

Camping in Cali

In 2010 me and my ex went camping at Big Sur. I don’t usually camp here in Brazil although I enjoy camping very much. We had a week off and decided to go do something different. Well, different for me, anyways. Big Sur is a region on the California’s central coast and much like the rest of the state, it is a beautiful place to visit. There are a lot of campsites, beaches, lodges, restaurants, scenic views, hiking trails…

Camping was a lot of fun, especially because it was new to me… I had fun asking my ex for help to wash my hair while was lied down on a picnic table; a raccoon went through part of our food while we were sleeping; there was this beach with a bunch of rocks instead of sand, and that was weird–in Brazil we have nice white, fluffy sand…but that was one of my favorite beaches, not sure why.

There are a lot of places to camp there, so here is a couple good websites  I found, with info about all the campgrounds etc. CAMPGROUND & INFO 1
CAMPGROUND & INFO  2

 

 

Later I will post about our other camping trip, as for now, I’ll leave you with some pictures and a video I think it’s pretty good to show how amazing Big Sur really is.

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Big Sur

 

Our campsite

 

rocks!!!!