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!










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.



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!!!!!!

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 ! :)

Paris, non, je ne regrette rien. Part DEUX.

Sam, my couch surfer host, told me he wouldn’t go to any touristic places with me. I didn’t find that rude at all, I totally understood.
But we did go to the Eiffel tower. Except, we biked there, and brought books. We didn’t stay in the huge line to go up to the top. And no, I don’t regret it. First because I will go back to Paris and I will have the opportunity to go to the top of the tower. And second, because Sam and I did something i seem to enjoy a lot more. We sat down on the grass in front of the tower and …we read. I was reading Franny & Zooey  by J.D. Salinger, and Sam…well, I have no idea. But it was the best feeling ever. Then we observed the people who were hanging out at the park. We talked. It was amazing.
In July/August (or, summertime…) there is this thing called Paris Plages.  Since there is no beach in Paris, they MADE one. It’s the cutest little thing, by the Seine River. It’s basically a artificial beach. There are beach chairs and beach umbrellas, and people hang out there, as if they really were at the beach. It’s actually quite fun.
Me and Sam spent some time there, too.

Paris Plages, at night.

On my last two days, I was on my own. Sam had to work and I wanted to go sightseeing and I definitely wanted to go to the museums because I love that kind of thing. I really do.
First, I went out to lunch with a friend I met ONLINE. Seriously, I did that. We had been talking for months and that was our opportunity to meet each other. François and I had lunch at this delicious little restaurant. Again, French food is …wow, I have no words to describe it, actually.

THEN, after fearing I’d get lost in the subway, I decided I knew how to get around, at least enough to get to the Louvre.

So I went to the Louvre and spent 4 and a half hours there. Did not see HALF of what’s in there. One more thing to put on my ”things to do when I go back to Paris” list.
But it was great. I took the little map of the Louvre and tried organizing myself to go in the right order of the little numbers, so I could keep track of the things I had seen and what I hadn’t. I did see a lot. And I was in awe, the whole entire time.
I have this….passion for art and ”old” things. All the paintings, the sculptures…the history behind it. It all fascinates me. I could spend a whole day at a museum like the Louvre anytime. I love it love it love it.

If you’re going to Paris, take some time to go to the Louvre. I mean, if that kind of thing interests you. Because if it does, it’s obviously a must-do.
But it’s important to remember that they aren’t open on Tuesdays. I have friends who made that mistake: they went to Paris and when they went to the Louvre, it was closed. And they didn’t have a lot of time in the city, so that was a bummer…
It’s open every day EXCEPT for Tuesdays, from 9 AM to 6PM.
You should also check the website because they have special exhibitions. And on the way out, check the shop. I bought a great book with a lot of the paintings.

When I was ”done” at the Louvre,  I wanted to walk a little. There’s a beautiful garden right on the way out, in the back of the museum, and little restaurants out in the open. I had the most amazing orange flavored Crème brûlée, took a few minutes to admire the scene around me….the whole time thinking ”am I really here???”.
THEN…It was shopping time. Walking a few minutes straight from the Louvre, it’s the famous Champs-Élysées.
I went crazy. I went in almost every store, tried a bunch of shoes, clothes, bought a lot of cute little dresses and makeup and books and CD’s (yes, they still exist) and a French book so i could practice a little everyday, etc etc etc.
It was really just too much, I know i exaggerated but…again…Je ne regrette rien (I don’t regret anything.)
I had to take a cab back to Sam’s house. He was quite impressed with all my shopping. The hard part was making it all fit in my suitcase. But I did it. haha

Tomorrow I will post about my last day in Paris and post a few pics, too. Here are a few tips if you’re planning on going there.

  • Try researching about the city, the city history, weather etc.
  • It won’t hurt you to try to learn at least a few words and expressions in French. It’s not that they won’t treat you well if you speak English, but put yourself in their place: a lot of them DON’T know English. And, they’ll probably appreciate the effort and treat you really well if you say a few words. Even if you try some mime with it. ”Bonjour – ”hello”, merci – ”thank you”, – ”S’il vous plait – thank you” etc etc etc

  • Shop. Really, do. Doesn’t need to be at Champs-Élysées, but do. There are a lot of nice shops around town. And don’t forget to be nice to the people who work in the shops. Say ”bonjour madame, monsieur, mademoiselle”, ”merci”, ”au revoir”….
  • Go to the cafés. There are a LOT of them around Paris. Bring a book, have some coffee, some macaroons, crepes…No hurry. Remember, you’re there to enjoy yourself, the city, the people, the food. Sit down. Relax, drink your cup of coffee in PEACE. Enjoy the moment. Don’t just grab a cup and leave.
  • Take the metro. There are a lot of weird people there haha, but it’s a good way to get around easily, besides de bikes. And don’t forget to KEEP your purple ticket. You might need it, in case the police wants to see it, etc.
  • Go to MUSEUMS. Not just the Louvre. Here is a LIST of all the Museums in the city. http://www.parisnotes.com/museums/parismuseums.html Unfortunately, I only went to two. But there are many options.
  • Ride the bikes.
  • Drink wine.
  • Wake up early to go to a boulangerie, to buy fresh out of the oven Baguettes. It’s like a party in your mouth and tummy.
  • Don’t be picky. Try new things.

And here is the most important tip:
Do not go to Paris with that cliché pre-formed opinion that they’re all going to be rude and treat you badly. I think that the way you should look at it is: Smile at people, they’ll smile back at you. Smile at the WORLD and it will smile back at you. It’s simple. And, yeah, of course, sometimes you’ll run into someone who’s not in a good day and they might not be the nicest to you, but overlook that and be nice to them ANYWAYS. Your politeness and education should NOT depend on theirs.


Très bien, I think that’s all for today!